Dates for your Diary
Saturday 20 June St Bartholomew’s Church Fair
2 pm Castle House
Sunday 7 June Civic Service
10 am St Bartholomew’s Church
Thursday 15 October Otford Society Autumn Meeting
8pm Otford Village Memorial Hall
In the Steps of Samuel Palmer cont
Another attractive walk to a pub is from the top of Otford Mount. It involves walking down
Row Dow for about 100 yards and then turning left, over a stile on to a path alongside the
grandly named Row Dow Reservoir. In spring you walk through waves of bluebells. The
path takes you across the side of the hill above Otford, with good views, to the drive of what
is now called Otford Manor, a Christian retreat which also runs foreign holidays. Locals used
– perhaps still do – know it as Treacle Towers, the former home of Mr Lyle, the sugar mag-
The drive was once home to a flock of long-tailed tits. A short walk down the drive and you
will find a stile and path going left above the manor, across a filed, through a wood, to the
road at Cotman’s Ash and the Rising Sun. An alternative is to continue on the path on the
side of the hill and under the manor before turning sharply left to join another path. Some 40
years ago, the Rising Sun was a tiny pub – the size of a modest dining room, with a parrot
talking away in the corner. Since then it has been added to substantially. It is a lovely place
to have a drink outside on a sunny day.
One year I made the mistake of walking there when there were several inches of snow on
the ground, dreaming of the roaring fire and beer I was going to enjoy. It was closed. The
publican, quite reasonably, had decided no one was going to come in such bad weather.
I must also mention Underriver. As comparatively recent research has shown, Palmer and
Linnell painted and drew here too. I imagine it is still possible, by using lanes and paths, to
reach Styants Wood across the A25 and pick up a path alongside a series of fish ponds, the
history of which is vague, to reach Ightham Mote. A simpler way of exploring the ridge is to
take a car to One Tree Hill and walk in the opposite direction to Rooks Hill, Shingle Hill and
Wilmot Hill, picking up the Greensand Way to just below the Mote entrance.
The ridge gives you fine views to the Weald and, perhaps on a fine day, the South Downs.
Shoreham is in Palmer’s Valley of Vision. The Underriver area he painted has been called
his Golden Valley.
You will find it well worth treading in the footsteps of Palmer, though perhaps not at night or
after visiting the Pig and Whistle! Last year (2008) the Shoreham Society held a light-
hearted ‘re-opening’ of the pub, carrying their own barrel of beer to the site to enliven pro-
ceedings. But it was for one night only.
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