Walk completed August 16, 2014

Monday, July 28, 2014

July 28, 2014 -- Day 43, Wateringbury, 14 miles

Today was another perfect day for walking through the countryside. Overcast skies and a cool breeze from the north had me starting out wearing a long sleeve shirt, but it didn’t take many hills before the long sleeves came off. The sun broke through the clouds around noon, but much of the walk was in shade, so things couldn’t be much better. Actually things were better, because I had booked two nights in Wateringbury. Having left most of the weight in my room, I hiked with a light pack today.

The guidebook shows a loop walk from Yalding, a nearby village. I had to enlarge the loop to connect from my hotel, and then enlarged it again for personal reasons. I wanted to check up on the foal I saw yesterday, so I retraced my steps to Tutsham Hall.

When I arrived at the field where the foal was lying down yesterday, I spotted him standing next to a handler who was bridling another horse. The handler said the colt was fine, and that it’s common for young ones to spend a lot of time lying down, especially on hot days. Relieved that I hadn’t witnessed his dying throes, I then joined the guidebook’s loop walk.

Healthy colt

Not long after, I met Roy, a local, out for his morning walk. I asked him about the “Oast houses” I’ve been seeing. He explained that Kent used to be a major source of hop farming. Many years ago, Londoners used to come to Kent to spend family holidays picking hops. They got free room and board and a little pay, but mainly spent time outside of the city working and playing in the country. The harvested hops were placed in an “oast” where a small fire provided heat for the drying process. The conical roof of the oast is topped with a half-cone, which works like both a chimney and a weather vane. A rudder affixed to the cone directs the solid side of the weather vane towards the wind (and rain) and the open side away, so the smoke dissipates. There were many, many oasts in Kent when hops were a major crop. Nowadays, imported hops are cheaper, so hops aren’t a major crop in Kent. Many, if not most, of the former oasts have been transformed into houses, in keeping with England’s tradition of preserving the past.


Oast Houses

Oast Houses

As the day wore on, I passed through more orchards and fields. Outside of Hunton I met Jo and her beagle, Emily. Interestingly enough, Jo has spent some time in California, and now lives in an oast house in Kent.

Apple Orchard

Jo and Emily

At Yalding, I re-joined the River Medway and followed it back to Wateringbury. There is a lock at Yalding that allows boaters to continue navigating upriver. I may be passing more locks as I follow the river to Tonbridge tomorrow.

Raising the bridge over Yalding lock

© 2014 Ken Klug


  1. Gone for a few days and back to catch up with you. Still out there making tracks and friends! Those oasts houses are something else, looks like bee hives.
    Seems like the weather has been nice to you, have fun!

  2. Oast houses, how unique and interesting. Jennifer just returned from a quick visit to London, and agrees that the weather has been hot hot hot. I admire your perseverance. Air conditioning is rare and feeble if there is any. I remember sweltering evenings in my room. Those are among the reasons any sensible hiker starts out in February (http://mylongwalk.com)!

  3. What a relief the foal is ok.