lunedì 8 settembre 2014

Cranbrook, Bedgebury National Pinetum and Scotney Castle ride

From the end of July, I start to load up my bike on the train, to reach further destinations and find enjoying rides there.  Here I am this 2nd of August outside Headcorn, a village between Ashford and Tonbridge, with its essential station. I pass the River Beult, whose valley is full of Mills. I soon find a nice one in Cranbrook, called Union Mill.

Cranbrook - the smallest town in Kent - is built between two hills: one is dominated by the Union Mill, the other by the well-known schools and St Dunstan. Inside the church there are two  wodden roundels with strange and quite scaring images: I've never seen something similar into a church before. The illustrative panel says they date back to the end of the Middle Age!

I follow a big road (A229, not so busy luckily), until I meet the National Cycle Network n. 18, wich I take on the right. I pass a farm with a lot of different coloured llamas, or something similar: here in Kent it'is easy to find farmers breeding this exotic animals.

Finally I enter in Bedgebury Forest, and the track of the Cycle Network 18 becomes gravelled. But the best is yet to come, 'cause I see some quite interesting signals of mountain bike rides, marked difficoult. I put my wheels headlong trought the red ride, and I've got more than two hours of glory. Lots of english mbkers get off of the bike at every hill, it's a shame! Probably they're not used to hills in their country...

My heavy bike must really love me, thinking about the way I ride down the paths putting a strain on its suspensions (Tesco suspensions). The gear does not make good noises, but I go on and complete the whole circuit, always sorrounded by the beautiful forest. There is also a lovely lake, and the pines reflecting into the water gives a touch of Alps to the scenery.

I find again the Cycle Network and follow it for a few miles, to reach the National Pinetum. Here I let the bike locked to a fence, and enjoy without rush this beautiful, unique place. Here you can find the highest number of different species of pines all together in Europe. Some of the trees have informative panels, where you can read of their history and curiosities.

Lakes full of water lilies and big plants are the final romantic note of this massive garden: very kentish in the way the man has modified and given a charachter to the landscape.

I'm not satisfied yet: I know there is something worth to see without moving too far away from Bedgebury. On my map there aren't footpaths, but as usual I try to use my intuition, just following the direction that seems to be right; and as usual, I'm lucky; after a long hill, a bridleway appears: it's a long, exiting downhill straightfoward to the Scotney Castle Gardens. In the middle of wide fields, with shy sheep, the suddenly you see the old castle surrounded by a little lake.

Another footpath, the last one for today, allows me to go out from the gardens area, near Lambehurst. Then, following country road -I need some asphalt at least - in the very heart of the Kent countryside, I come back to Headcorn: a cool apple cider is waiting for me as an award!

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