Walks around Leaveland

A quiet Kentish Lane, turning past the hedgerow to a country pub with a fire burning in the grate – this is Leaveland, a hamlet at the fringe of the North Downs in the north of Kent, simultaneously in the middle of everything and in the middle of nowhere.

The village is not on the North Downs Way – that loops away from here to the south, but has its own network of lanes.  It has not great sights, though it is not farm from the manicured estate at Belmont, and wilder woods.  Having enjoyed the company of the Red Lion, you may take any direction of the compass and more to continue your journey on footpaths.  It even takes a footpath to reach the village’s own church, separated in ‘Leaveland Court’.  There is no obvious long-distance route, which just means that your journey is not prescribed by regulations and directives.

The path from Leaveland to Bethel Row

I love the places hereabouts, with names like Throwley Forstal, Tong Green, Molash and Snoadstreet.  These too must just get on with life as they will, unbothered by the things that seem to get urban types wound up in knots.

Where better on a spring afternoon (yes, its still a chilly spring, but what does it matter with the wonder of creation laid out before you?)

I think west over the common from the pub, then south down the bridleway to Molash and then up the hill into the King’s Wood – a place to be lost in.  Or anywhere really.  That is a thing about Leaveland – it is a village to enjoy within, but eventually there is more to be seen by opening your horizons – I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills – and, well, leaving.


Rendezvous at Danger Island

The yacht slips in across the reef under a light breeze, all hands readied, tense. Silence aboard is not mirrored ashore – over the soft beat of the surf on the white sand is the sound of inhuman screaming.

A turtle swims past with what the imagination might call a knowing look on its age-old face.

Seagrass bed by Danger Island
A seagrass bed by Danger Island

The sea is alive now, shimmering with fish, and diving to meet them the birds of the isle. A bright, white pair of boobies jostles for a squid. The yacht stands off – the tide is dragging it to the razor-sharp coral.

This is Danger Island, in the British Indian Ocean Territory; a hazard and a beauty. It is a preserve of wildlife which few will ever see, and one of the many wonders those islands afford.  There is no walking here, no wind-scoured moorland, no remote vistas over forbidding fell-country – it is in everything the opposite of all the Further Wild should be to a Wildþing, and indeed man may not set foot here by law, but it is a paradise of nature, preserved for all mankind.