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Sussex Scrapbook ~ Nature walks throughout the year
Green Man
Saturday 14th February 2009
Walland Marsh
Brookland - Little Cheyne Court - East Guldeford - Brookland
13 miles

Even though there has been a vast amount of rain lately (a whole month's worth in one day, last week) we thought it was about time we went for another wander around Walland Marsh (previously known as Romney Marsh). Unfortunately this required us to leave our fair county for the second time in a week (we really are becoming jet setters) as the marsh straddles the Kent/East Sussex border. The boundary here is marked by the Kent Ditch, which in parts is just like a canal and in other parts is literally just a small ditch. Kent is famous in our house for not being even the slightest bit walker friendly. There are no sign posts at all on the wide, watery expanses of the marsh and as a consequence the footpaths themselves are barely visible (a phenomenon surely aided by repeated flooding). This lack of guidance over some of the most treacherous conditions in the south-east of England must lead to people being regularly lost out there, perhaps for ever! We saw only two other walkers in the area all day and they were on the Royal Military Canal footpath just by the main road. So, if you really want to get away from it all, are well prepared, and can read a map and use a compass, then come and have a go at this one. If on the other hand you have no navigation skills whatsoever and want to end it all, then come on down to Walland Marsh!
Yes it's wet out there, yes it's bleak and windswept and yes the whole area is now dominated by a ghastly wind farm, but there still is a lot to recommend it for. As already mentioned there are no people (and/or dogs) out there. Peace, quiet and solitude reign, broken only by the happy squeals of Lapwings. The views across the many reed beds, brooks and canals are gorgeous and even the 24 Nelson's Column-sized wind turbines around Little Cheyne Court don't offend the eye too much after a while. Of course the main recommendation for nature lovers is the wildlife and right now the place is teeming with it. Everywhere you look there is something going on and we were lucky enough to tick off one of our target birds early on in the walk; two female Marsh Harriers, one flying around giving us a great show and another perched on a grassy tussock. Just an hour or so later we saw a female Merlin hurtling around some reed beds and just before dusk a ringtail Hen Harrier came past us 20 feet above the ground on it's way home to roost. In between those events we also witnessed: a Fox galloping after Lapwings, Brown Hares nibbling grass near the turbines, a Kingfisher brightly illuminated by the sun as it tore down a reedy sewer, and many plopping sounds from small water channels that could have been Water Voles.
The only thing that stopped today being perfect was the extremely low temperatures we had to face on the bike. On the way there in the morning the roads around Rye and in Kent were very icy and we passed a serious accident on the road from Rye to Brookland. On the way back, its safe to say, we both nearly got hypothermia. Was it worth it, you bet!

We arrived unscathed after an icy journey at the unique St. Augustine's of Brookland with it's separate octagonal bell tower,
 box pews and a weights & measures museum.

The famous 12thC lead font showing the signs of the zodiac.
Thought to have been stolen from the French during the Hundred Years War.


Nothing is safe out here!

Kent Ditch, it does what it says on the tin!

There were some ploughed fields of incredibly sticky mud, which made the walking far harder

These things are huge.....really huge!

We also touched on this long distance foot path, The Saxon Shore Way.

As usual the last 2 miles were done after dark.