A Circular Ride Round Chilham: Over the Hills!
The enthusiasm to write the blog seems to be waning. The clamour of keen volunteers has given way to cries of "it must be your turn to do it" and my excuse of a lack of literary talent, while no less relevant now, is not considered a good reason to decline.
Our last Ragstone Ride was over a week ago, and not much has changed weather-wise since. It was cold and icy then, as it is now, so you blog followers can imagine the scene as Peter, John, Ruth and Judith left Chilham car park to cycle to The Rose & Crown in Perry's Wood for lunch. The sun was shining to start with, and it was bright and crisp as we started our climb out of the river valley towards Shottenden. Another perfect Ragstone day, or so we thought, until we hit a layer of freezing fog which stayed for the rest of the ride and chilled us right through. Not even the hill-climbs could keep us warm, and there were plenty of those.
Shottenden to Charing Bowl to Eastling; somewhere along these roads (probably near Shottenden) we startled pheasants that flew from the hedgerows. They had been hiding from huntsmen who were enjoying a day's sport and looking to put meat on their tables. The sound of shotguns through the mist was eerie and sad.
We came upon the grand entrance to Belmont House which, according to the website, is an elegant 18th century house, designed by Samuel Wyatt, set in beautiful gardens and parkland commanding stunning views over the surrounding Estate and the rolling Kentish North Downs.
We didn't see the house, though we could vouch for the rolling Kentish North Downs, but we all agreed we would like a return trip to visit the house in the Spring. Had we known there is tea-room open all the year round we would have gone in to find it, for we were all cold, and the women in the group were both getting tired.
Onward to Sheldwich; and what an elusive place that is. The signposts said four miles to go, then three, then two, then four again! We reached Sheldwich at last - but the pub was closed until noon so no chance of a hot coffee there.
From Sheldwich to Hogbens Hill (careful of the ice on the road), then Selling, then into Perry Wood and the welcome sight of the Rose & Crown, with good food and a roaring fire for John to warm his gloves and helmet.
Perry Wood is the site of ancient earthworks where strange things happen on midsummer's eve, but that will be the subject of a future Ragstone Blog - perhaps next June .....