Sunday, August 05, 2007

This is the view from the escarpment of the North Downs looking down across the valley where I live. It`s a lovely view, but not really the sort of place to be walking the dog on what promises to be the hottest day of the year here in deepest Kent. So, this morning, Henry our Golden Retriever and I looked behind us from this spectacular vantage point....and this is what we saw:-

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......a shady walk beckoning through the nearby woods of Holly Hill. Henry loved it - new sniffs, a change of scenery and the cool overhang of the trees. Holly Hill is a bit remote - and all the better for it. It was given to the former Malling Rural District Council in, I think, 1943 by the bequest of one Mr. F. Cripps-Day and is now in the charge of Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, who have the duty of maintaining it as a public open space.

Fortunately, the Council`s enlightened attitude towards the maintenance of Holly Hill has not extended to tidying it up too much or trying to `formalise` it in any way. It is still in the semi-wild state its location demands, but there have been one or two `enhancements.` Perhaps the most valuable is the provision of a plaque on the top of the hill which gives a potted history of the nearby triangulation beacon but also gives a photographic pointer to the places that can be seen from Holly Hill. These include Canary Wharf, the QE bridge across the Thames at Dartford, Littlebrook Power Station and even Gravesend. The only thing is that you can really only see these wonders during the winter months, when the foliage has gone from the trees.

We enjoyed our ramble this morning - away from the shimmering heat of high summer - and what struck me most was the quiet, which was absolute on this still morning.

(click to enlarge)

The whole experience was reminiscent of my visit to the obscure village of Fawley, high on the downs of Oxfordshire, where Thomas Hardy set his Marygreen and from where Jude would look out across the scene pictured above towards the dreaming spires of Oxford.

All I had this morning was a hazy glimpse of the nightmare spire of Canary Wharf, but I wondered how much its inhabitants would prefer to be with Henry and me on this peerless day.


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