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Saturday, 18 January 2020

Saturday Walk Two Cinque Port Towns and Wassailing an Orchard

SWC Walk 113:  Tenterden to Rye (In reverse) – Varied Landscape between Two Cinque Port Towns ending in Tenterden with optional Orchard Wassail t=swc.113

Distance:  13.4 Miles or 21.5 km for those more metrically minded (with options to shorten by catching a bus en route – see walk notes for ideas)

Difficulty:  5 out of 10

Train:  Take the 9:34 AM Southeastern train to Ashford International (changing to Eastbourne train arrive 10:11; depart 10:25), arriving Rye at 10:46. The return requires a bus from Tenterden to either Headcorn or Ashford. All buses depart from near the Vine Inn: for a shorter bus journey (20ish minutes -- but more limited options), take bus number 12 towards Maidstone at 16:26; 17:39 or 22:15 – these connect reasonably well with trains back to London at Headcorn; for a longer bus journey (30-35ish minutes) with a few more options, take bus number 2 or 2a to Ashford – bus 2 leaves at 17:41, 18:46; 20: 55 and bus 2a leaves at 17:05; 17:52 or 19:55 – these connect (more or less) with trains back to London from Ashford. Buy a day return to Rye. 

We had a request for a walk that involves wassailing (the orchard variety). A bit of internet research revealed that this is the weekend for it!  Apparently, traditionally performed on the “old 12th night” according to Julian Calendar – 17 January-ish….to waken and bless the orchard trees….for a bountiful crop…Some further research revealed that a well-organised looking event takes place within striking distance of one of our walks….the one hitch being that you will need to do the walk backwards….to finish in Tenterden….The event takes place at Gibbet Oak Farm and involves torches, singing, dancing and general merriment. It is a ticketed event 5.25 pounds which includes a short shuttle service from the Vine Inn to the farm. If interested in the wassailing – do book ahead HERE to avoid disappointment. If anyone does go to this event, it would be interesting to know if it is worth keeping in mind for future years….

In addition to potential wassailing, this walk covers varied ground from near the coast at Rye to the low hills in the eastern High Weald, largely following the High Weald Landscape Trail.  On the way, you pass by Smallhythe Place, originally the harbormaster’s house when Small Hythe was a major port town before the River Rother changed course. You also pass the Chapel Down winery that offers generous samples of its tasty wines.  You can find more information about the walk and download the walk instructions here. Since you will be doing the walk in reverse, it is recommended to bring a print-out of the map and/or the gpx….
The original lunch spot for this walk, the Oxney Gourmet Pie and Burger Bar in Wittersham still appears to be closed. However, doing the walk in reverse, you could have an early lunch at the Cock Inn (01797 230 281) in Peasmarsh (4 miles/6 km into the walk).  The Vine Inn on the High Street in Tenterden seems to be the center of activity – for buses and for the shuttle to the Wassailng event – so probably makes a good spot for post walk refreshies…
Enjoy the walk!


Thomas G said...

Train calls Stratford I'nal 09.41.

Anonymous said...

£28 return, as far as I can see.

Thomas G said...

This was always a guaranteed muddy walk, what with the route leading (after a quick tourist sojourn through lovely Rye) through the low-lying marshes of the Tillingham valley, later through plenty of woods, then across the Rother Levels and along the bottoms of beautiful shallow valleys (not forgetting the cattle and sheep churned areas around field gates and otherwise muddy fenced paths and tracks, and all this in the High Weald, famous for winter mud), yet with some fine-tuned routing around the worst bits, it was very enjoyable despite that: the beauty of the scenery and the very fine views from the many (modest) heights more than compensated for the extra effort needed to negotiate the course today.
Walking in reverse and starting in Rye has the benefit of everyone being happy to look at the attractions there with a bit more enthusiasm, so for the first time (in my Rye history) we actually went into the church (a very fine example) and then also on to the lookout in Gun Gardens. With the only pub, The Cock Inn, coming after just 6 km, I had feared me might get there too early for them to be open, but - fear ye not - the sightseeing and the mud delays saw us arriving way after noon. A pleasant pub (although clearly a 'locals' pub, seeing how everyone stared at us upon arrival), with faultless food. After more than an hour, we moved on (the 1 picnicker had joined us lunchers for a tea).
We walked map-and-compass led of course, while reverse-reading the pdf directions, so - combined with the walk author's trademark scarcity of bearings - this led us astray one-and-a-half times (thankfully without major consequences, the 'alternative' fields weren't any muddier than the route we should have taken and the route itself not much longer).
Midway through the distance it was becoming clear that one or other walker not used to mudfests were flagging a bit, so they and their friends dropped out in Wittersham, where conveniently the next (and last) bus back to Rye was due in 12 minutes (we hope it turned up). Us remaining 4 eventually reached Tenterden (lastly through a brand-new housing estate) in the dusk (in reality it was dark to the east but still with some residual light in the far distant west), and with plenty of stars out, at 17.35.
3 went straight into the first pub on the left (I forgot its name), 1 checked the bus times (they were indeed as per the walk post). 2, having just bought a drink, then changed their minds and hastily gulped it down to catch the 17.52, while the other two enjoyed the extra 54 minutes to the next bus in the busy but cosy pub, and then had a pretty decent connection to the HS train at Ashford.
n=8 off the mega-busy train (Southern, go sort yourself out, crowded trains even in deep winter!!!! what's it going to be like in summer?) w=notionally-cold-but-very-sunny-and-no-wind

Oh, the wassailing: 2 had indeed booked up for the experience, but they were amongst the 4 that bailed out in Wittersham, so nothing to report...

teapot said...

Wonderful scenic walk on a beautiful sunny day. The mud made it tougher and it must have slowed us down because it was quite dark for the last half hour or more. But that gave us the benefit of seeing the bright planet Venus, helpfully identified by one of the remaining four, and then lots more stars come out. Thanks for the help through the muddy darkness, and apologies for leaving abruptly for the bus at the end after the nice companionship....