“If you have young children, you’ll know how difficult it can be to get them out of their virtual worlds of computers and into the real world of fresh air and sunshine.
One weekend last summer, when my wife had the car for work, I decided to do just this. So I trawled the internet for cheap car rental for the day and found myself a pretty good deal on a small hatchback.
Being North Londoners, we often do walks on Hampstead Heath, but I felt it was time we ventured a little further afield so we headed off for the ‘Garden of England’ otherwise known as Kent and made for the village of Pluckley.
Why Pluckley? Well, many years ago a few friends of mine formed a small bus tour company that operated at the weekend, touring areas that had associations with ghosts and psychic phenomena. Needless to say, this friend was something of an expert on the subject. The trips took paying customers to places like Borley Rectory, Stonehenge, Avebury and, of course, Pluckley, which I seem to remember being extremely pretty.
So with the hire car filled to the brim with rucksacks, a well stocked cool box, walking boots, waterproofs and other paraphernalia, the kids and yours truly, set off towards the A20, through Ashford and Maidstone. Maidstone is one of those places that has grown so much in the last 15 years that I barely recognise the place.
The road out of Maidstone soon becomes countrified, and in just over two hours we finally arrived at Pluckley, which thankfully is as pretty as I had remembered it.
The walk I had found on the internet was a 6.8 mile route and would take us around three and a half hours to complete. It’s a perfect location for walkers with children as it’s very easy walking with no challenging slopes. So it would also be ideal for cycling if you have a roof rack for the bikes.
This little piece of England is quintessentially English with its eccentric oast houses; small farms; orchards in full bloom; the occasional wafts of apple blossom; and old oaks with knobbly limbs. This is where the author, H E Bates whose house can still be seen in the charming hamlet of Little Chart Forstal, penned his classic, The Darling Buds of May. And in fact, the television adaptation that was made not so many years ago, was filmed here in the village of Pluckley. Come here and you’ll see why.
The views over the Low Weald are fabulous. If you head for Greensand ridge you’ll enjoy perhaps the best view to be had in this part of the world. I imagine the views over the Weald here are similar to those that so inspired Churchill at his beloved Chartwell House.
Besides the scenery, there is also Pluckley’s reputation for ghosts, of which it proudly boasts twelve. Pop into the Black Horse pub for some refreshment and you might be lucky enough to spot its resident poltergeist who apparently picks on teetotallers. Sadly, we didn’t see any spirits other than the bottled variety that sat behind the bar at The Black Horse.”
With thanks to www.carhiremarket.com and Alex Pearle for this guest post, who is a freelance copywriter and author of Sleeping with the Blackbirds. His royalty goes directly to Centrepoint, the national charity for homeless kids. Alex also writes this blog: http://rhubarbrabbit.blogspot.com.