I'm not sure who kindly waved a magic wand last Friday, but by some unheard of miracle, my husband managed to unshackle himself from his office long enough to take me and Polly out for an afternoon walk in the sunshine.
Never one to miss an opportunity, I did a quick Google hunt to find a pretty route, printed off directions and bundled us all into my car, before the office had a chance to steal him back!
I spotted several 'circular walks' on the National Trust website for Ightham Mote and as it's only a half hour drive from home, fancied trying the four mile route from the Manor House to Wilmott Hill because it promised beautiful countryside views ...
Give a boy a map and directions to follow, then watch his inner boy scout emerge - Stuart soon forgot the office (almost!) and was in his element guiding me 'n Polly through woodland and along country lanes. He is now talking about buying a compass for future excursions!
It was so peaceful trundling along! Idyllic English countryside, picture perfect cottages, farmhouses, unspoiled woodland and gorgeous Spring sunshine ... who could ask anything more of a Friday afternoon?
Polly absolutely loved her walk, trotting long beside us with a big soppy grin on her face. Every now and then, after a quick risk assessment for potential countryside problems such as tractors/farm animals and so on, I slipped off her harness to allow her the opportunity to explore ...
As you can see, Polly loves to explore!
There was a time when I would have talked myself out of letting Polly off lead in new surroundings for fear of losing her, but now I'm confident she doesn't want to lose me, any more than I want to lose her, so I trust her not to go too far and to come back to me when I call - even if it isn't always the split second I shout 'come' (apparently really interesting rabbit holes sometimes require a few seconds more exploration!) I'm happy to say, thanks to Kevin's obedience training sessions, most times nowadays Polly dashes straight back to me with a crazy happy grin on her face and ears flapping wildly in the breeze.
This circular walk was a real treat, especially on a stolen weekday afternoon! We hardly saw another soul as we tromped through the most idyllic Kentish countryside and woodland.
You do need to be reasonably fit to cope with the fairly steep inclines, but if you allow yourself plenty of time and just absorb the wonderful views as you climb steadily, you'll probably hardly notice the exertion. For my own peace of mind, I kept Polly on her lead for the ascent because some of the pathways up the side of the hill were not only steep, they were also quite narrow.
We used the 'Endomondo' GPS ap on my Iphone to see how far we travelled. It calculated just over three and a half miles in an hour and five minutes for this lovely walk - I also thought the ap might come in handy if we got lost along the way, but fortunately with Scouting Stuart at the helm and the National Trust directions to hand, that didn't happen!
Me and Stuart both gave this beautiful walk a big thumbs up as we completed the circle back to the car park .
Our mud splattered, somewhat algae-faced Polly Dog (nose in rabbit holes!) gave Ightham Mote to Wilmott Hill a cheesy grin, waggy tail and paws up too!
Here's to going round in circles again soon!