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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What to do When the Forcast Says 90% Chance of Rain? Go on a Walk in the British Countryside!

On Wednesday Oct 7th our group got on a train and went into the English countryside to take a nice little 9 mile hike. Now for those of you that know me you might find yourselves a little surprised that I would go on such a hike but alas it was required for two of my classes! Even thought it was rainy and cold I was really glad I went and saw the countryside in a new way. We walked mostly in the Darent Valley Path. The landscape was really beautiful and I think the rain and clouds actually made it more beautiful. We went with Brother Chittock and his two brothers. Br. Chittock is in the presidency for the Wandsworth Stake and mind you he is I am guessing in his 70s and one of his brothers I swear was in his 80s and yet they were hiking like a bunch of young men! It really was amazing and Br. Chittock said he has been doing this hike for the last 20 years or so. And I am not going to lie to you but all three of the brothers were in way better shape hiking around than I was! It was also cool because we saw and Anderson Shelter. This was a shelter that was built during WWII that people would get into for a little bit of protection during the nightly bombings. They were very cold and wet, but were a little bit of protection from shelling.
Along our walk we saw hop fields and saw how they were harvested. We even stopped at a little shop by the hop farm- they had a few drinks and snacks- a few of the group purchased a bottle of ginger beer. To the amusement of the ones around them they found that it was not as good as they thought and looked quite funny drinking it! Of course I had to try it and it did have a little kick to it! It was not until after everyone had tried some that we saw it had a small percentage of alcohol (not even enough to be a problem) but it was funny to see everyone freak out!
Anyway we also walked through Lullingstone Country Park. This park is maintained by the Kent County Council. In this park there are footpaths throughout the land that are open to the public at all times. Along this path we saw the Lullingstone Castle. We did not stop in, but it was nice to get a few photos of it.
We stopped at another castle ruin for lunch and climbed around the grounds (some of us climbing a little more than others) . Around these ruins are other houses that people live in and I was thinking how wonderful it would be to have a view of an old castle looking out into my backyard.
After lunch a few of us headed back to the centre, but suprise suprise I stuck with hike and finished the whole 9 miles. Of course, this is when it started pouring and we really had to start hiking. There were some touch and go moments going down this really steep slippery part. Our guides took us a different way and instead of a nice rainy path we got a steep uncleared forest to make our way down in the rain! Needless to say I fell multiple times! But at the bottom of this death trap the end was in site and we all made it back to the train station in one piece- if not just a little bit soaked. The worst part was sitting on the train for a good hour in our soaking clothes.
But I am really glad that I went on the hike and stuck with it till the end, it was nice to get out of the city! This is what the uncleared path looked like!

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- Alex