Travelling by road you can be sure of one thing - you will hurtle past places of interest and outstanding beauty. Follow some of my walks and you will take yourself to places often missed or hidden from view.
But I can be booked to lead a fundraising walk - within Kent - for your organisation or for a group of friends on holiday, or for a special occasion.
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No walks planned at present
Updated 19 Feb 2017
About Geoff Rambler
Printed books sold out but you can still purchase a PDF copy.
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Sika Stags ‘Communicating'
All the clips below were recorded on walks in Knole Park, Sevenoaks
BOTH BOOKS SOLD OUT
But a PDF file could be provided for a donation to the Air Ambulance for ‘Rambles & Ramblings’ and to the British Legion for ‘If Walks Could Talk’. email me for more info firstname.lastname@example.org
20 March 2016 - 10am & 7 Miles
Doddington - A walk that takes us to St Margaret Manor and pass what remains of the ‘open air’ hospital opened in 1908 by Dr. Josiah Oldfield, a Fruitarian and friend of Mahatma Gandi.
A nice mixture of woodland and open view walking.
Park on the street in Doddington. Meet at the Chequers Inn, The Street, Doddington (TQ935 572, ME9 0BG).
The establishment of the hospital led to St Margaret Manor (which was effectively derelict before Oldfield moved there) becoming known as the Fruitarian Village.
Otterden Park provided a base for a Royal Tank Brigade in WW2, and the Manor may have been where, for the first time, electricity was conducted along a ‘wire’ of silk thread.
Remains of the ‘open air’ hospital of
Dr Josiah Oldfield.
Kits Coty Morris
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Bluebell Hiill Maidstone
1 May 2016, 5am & 4 Miles
Celebrate sunrise on May Day with a dawn a walk to Kits Coty. We will watch the Kits Coty Morris celebrate the sun rising before we continue on our walk.
Meet and park in the car park of Mickey’s Diner – off Chatham bound carriageway of A229 on Bluebell Hill. (ME20 7EZ / TQ747608.)
After watching the Morris we will descend to Eccles via Little Kits Coty, before making our way back up Bluebell Hill - at a gentle pace - and returning to Mickey’s for a ‘buy-your-own’ breakfast or perhaps just a cup of tea.
View from One Tree Hill
Weather forecast Sevenoaks
It is hoped that we will see Bluebells but they are very this year.
Our walk takes out and back through the 1000 acre ancient deer park of Knole on a circular route to One Tree Hill - a Site of Special Scientific Interest as a home to rare species of plants, insects and molluscs. If the weather is good we will rewarded with a fine view across the Weald when we take our mid-walk break.
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Sevenoaks to One Tree Hill, 6.5 Miles
8 May 2016, 10 am.
Meet in the front of Sevenoaks’ Library
TQ533 545 / TN13 1LQ.
There is a public car park here - currently free on Sundays.
This walk can be strenous in places, for short disances - particularly if wet.
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Circular walk from Old Bexley
24 July 2016, 10am. 5.5 miles
A surprisingly pleasant and varied walk in the London Brough of Bexley.
Meet in the car park of Bexley Railway Station. Parking fee £1 for the day.
DA5 1AQ / TQ494 735.
From Old Bexley we head out to pick up the River Cray before heading away for higher land and Joyden’s Wood. Joyden’s Wood is mixed woodland, managed by the Woodland Trust, that was extensively farmed during the Iron Age. In the woods we will ‘cross’ what remains of a defensive ditch, ‘’, that dates back to Saxon times.
Five Arch Bridge, Foots Cray Meadow.
let’s hope this has dried up by July!
Photo taken 14 Feb’ 16
Watch this spaceEndFragment
075 2516 1766
I am available for ‘hire’ to lead day walks within Kent. You can determine the walks you would like me to lead or you can specify the distance / time you would like to walk and I will put an appropriate walk together.
I do not charge but will take donation for an agreed charity / good cause.
Through my walks I have raised for the restoration of Charles Dickens Swiss Chalet and in partnership with Shepherd Neame Brewery fund for the military charities - Combat Stress and the Royal British Legion. And with support from the H R P Boorman Family Foundation, Kent Air Ambulance - to name a few
A retired, married, life-long walker with extensive knowledge of paths and routes in Kent.
Retired local government officer having had a full career as a social worker and social services manager.
Previously I trained in the biological sciences and consequentially am able to offer biological and ecological interpretations on walks.
I have led over 1000 miles of walks for the Medway Group of the Ramblers Association, a number of walks for the Kent Messenger and walked many, many more on my own.
11:30: Wall-exploring - a walk along the outside wall of the house / garden looking for plants and creatures who may have set up home on or in the wall. EndFragment
Monday 25 July 2016 - Knole Park, Sevenoaks
Geoff Rambler’s Family Walks
2:30: We seek-out the deer. On this walk you will hear about the life of the deer in the park, to handle antlers, hear a recording of the male’s mating call, and see a video of how the deer help the jackdaws create a cosy nest for their young. (If we’re lucky and quiet, we may see this year’s fawns - but no promises!)EndFragment
1:30: I Spy Park Bingo - we go on an explorer-walk spying and ticking-off some of the many things that have made their home in the park. EndFragment
For the past 2 years I have led walks that include something that youngsters enjoy - and while they are engaged in their ‘activity’ I tell the oldsters something about the life and history of the park. This makes sure walks that interest children, are far from childish.
All walks last around 30 minutes but the last walk of the day - the deer walk can take up to 45 minutes depending on how far we need to go to find the deer.
Between the walks there are the deer to enjoy and oddles of space to explore.
12:30: A trip round the new bug-logs to see if any mini-beasts – or indeed larger beasts - have moved in. EndFragment
The Walks are Free - Just Turn Up and Join in.
Park in Old Chatham Road, near junction with Chatham Rd., North of Kits Coty Brasserie. Approach from Lower Bell (PH) junction. Take immediate right turn – do not follow Chatham Rd; Park at end of the road where it meets with the Chatham Rd.EndFragment
Out via Kits Coty, Great Cossington and Pratling St., to reach Aylesford where we will take a break by the river. We head back towards Eccles, crossing extensive vineyards to reach the Kits Coty community. There is a gentle climb up part of Bluebell Hill – but we don’t go to the top, and there’s no stiles!A walk with fine views and ancient & modern contrasts; woodland, pastures, lakes and river; megaliths, quarrying & viticulture. A walk that demonstrates the many impacts man has had on this area – over the millennia - and how nature retakes what she lost.
Bluebell Hiill Maidstone
14 Aug 2016, 10am. 6 Miles
Lower Bell PH
Trees & Plants
This page provides links to various documents, pictures and videos that provide information about things that can be found or done in Knole Park - Click on the button that ‘interests' you.
Tree-trolls - faces and animals that with some imagination can be found amongst the leaves and brances of tree or in their bark
Insects & Bugs
Art & Culture - in and from the park
Video of the route - showing some Tree Trolls
Geoff Rambler’s Walks - Knole’s Tree Trolls
Beatles come to Knole
The ‘stone arch’ through which teh Beatles ride in Penny Lane can still be seen in the grounds of the Birdhouse. The tree used in Strawberry Fields is long gone although what looks like the stump can still be found
Geoff Rambler’s Walks -
The Pre-Raphaelite’s Trip to the Forest
Two members of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood used Knole Park as a setting for two of their paintings
In the autumn of 1850 Holman Hunt and Dante Gabriel Rossetti came to Knole referring to their visit as the ‘trip to the forest’.
Holman Hunt painted the background to his painting ‘Valentine Rescuing Silva from Proteus’; he added the figures back in the studio. Elizabeth Siddal who modelled for this painting went on to become a recognised artist in her own right. Some of her work can be seen at the Red House in Bexley.
Dante Rossetti painted the background for his ‘The Bower Garden’ at Knole.
We cannot be sure where the artist positioned themselves. The house does not appear in their paintings and the landscape would have changed - but the attached pictures offer a ‘starter for 10’ - what do you think?
Geoff Rambler’s Walks - Plant Life
This Digger Wasp was spotted leaving one of her burrows on the Greensand Way that passes to the south of Knole in Knole Park, Sevenoaks.
If you spot a wasp flying low to the ground - that may be peppered with small holes - sit and wait, and you may see it dive into one of the holes. Don’t worry about being stung - these wasps only use their sting to paralyse their prey.
Digger Wasps are solitary insects though two females may cooperate in digging / burrowing a nest.
The burrow can be 30cm deep and is dug on open unshaded ground - so it can warm up during the day. At the bottom the burrow branches into several tunnels. In each the female will place some food on which she will lay an egg. Once laid she will cover the burrow. When the eggs hatch the larvae will feed on the stored food.
The digger wasps can have more that one burrow and can be seen flying between them.
The hard work involved in digging a burrow is rewarded by the protection that is offers her young. If her eggs were laid in the open where they could be easily found by predators, she would have to lay many more eggs to ensure at least some of her young will reach adulthood.
Geoff Rambler’s Walks - Insects & Bugs
Hart is a term reserved for a male aged 5+ years. It was believed that the white hart had magical powers – hence perhaps so many pubs being called the White Hart? It is mainly associated with the Red Deer.
When the males have lost (cast) their antlers – they are said to be a Pollard.
When the antlers are growing they are said to be in Velvet due to the velvet looking covering. Around mid / end of September, as day length shortens, the males hormone levels start to change. The blood supply to the antlers is cut off and the velvety skin is shed and the bone hardens in time for the Rut.
Rut – the mating season for deer - occuring around October.
Ruminants – all deer are ruminants. Deer like sheep and cows who graze on grass and vegetation which is difficult to digest, they have four-chambered stomachs that manage a type of fermentation process. After they’ve a good feed you will see the deer ‘ruminating’ or chewing the cud. The process of re-chewing food helps with its digestion.
Pronking – also pronging and stotting – is a running style of some deer in which they spring into the air, lifting all four feet off the ground simultaneously. Perhaps best described as a bounce. This gait usually happens when the deer is startled.
Velvet – the soft skin coving the antlers while they’re growing.
Geoff Rambler’s Walks - Deer of the Park
Some Deer Terms
Horns or Antlers?
Antlers are made of bone and are shed each year unlike the horns of goats and sheep that are made of keratin (like our finger nails) and continue to grow throughout the life of the animal.Size of antler can only be taken as a rough indicator of age, as genetic differences - at an individual level - can have an effect. After a certain age, a deer’s antlers start becoming smaller each year; this is called “going back”.
Children enjoy handling a real antler (borrow one from the Education Room) - and parents taking a picture of them with the antler. Draw parallels with loosing milk teeth. You can use the hardness and sharpness of the antlers to stress another reason not to feed the deer. If a deer were to shake its head because a fly is irritating it, the antler could inflict a lot of damage - accidentally.EndFragment
There are about 450 deer in the park, of which about 80% are fallow deer. On the whole, if you see a group of deer they are most likely to be fallow deer. Sika deer are more likely to be alone, pestering people for food around the front of the house. They are otherwise rather more wary of humans than fallows, and are only occasionally seen elsewhere. The Japanese Sika Deer were introduced into the park in 1860s when it was ‘fashionable’ for stately homes to have these ornamental deer. They interbreed with red deer, but not with fallows.
Mating: The male Bucks will compete for the high ground of Echo Mount in the Rutting season. Middle late October. Two males will only fight if they both think they can win. During the summer they have spent time in bachelor grounds during which time a pecking order will have been established. Once a male has secured his stand he will create scrapes – hollows in the ground using his hoof and antlers. During the Rut there is a gland between his toes that produces a scent and his urine also contains a pheromone. The mixture created in the scrapes serves to warn other males off and to attract the females. Similarly the load belching-type noise made by the males warns other males off and attracts the females. As the season progresses the males ‘adam’s apple’ becomes more prominent. Around Echo Mount and at other places in the park, the scrapes of other males can be found as they try to attract some females to them. (The Sika stag does not establish a stand but mixes within the female herd during the Rut.
During the Rut which can last about 3 weeks the male eats little and can loose up to a 1/3rdof their body weight. As their hormones subside the males reestablish themselves into bachelor groups.The males shed their antlers around April. Why don’t we find them? Perhaps foxes and other scavengers get there first. They are a rich source of calcium. It is not beloved the deer eat them as there teeth are more suited to grazing.
Gestation is between 8 & 8.5 months. Fawns are born in early July; they are hidden in the bracken until they are strong enough to outrun foxes and are visited several times a day by their mother to be fed. They avoid detection by predators by having very little scent and becoming ‘bradycardic’ – heart beat and breathing fall to an imperceptible level. The young males stay with the female herd until they are 2 or 3 and then leave to join a bachelor group.
Don’t feed the deer! It makes them tame and a nuisance for picnickers. Being to close also carries the risk of being hit in the face/eye by a point (tine) of an antler, and they maybe carrying ticks that can carry some unpleasant diseases.It can also make them ill as they have an unusual digestive system designed to digest leaves, grass and bark.
The winter coat of the Fallow Deer makes an ideal lining for the ‘sticky’ nest of the jackdaw.
Note how the birds have created a round doorway using mud. The nest wil be made of pieces of bark and dried leaves. Some line the hollow with One scene shows a parent removing waste from the nest to keep it hygienic.
Jackdaw is distinguished from crows by the silvery sheen to the back of its head.They are often seen foraging amongst the ant hill / tearing up turf looking for bugs. They also pluck the coat out of moulting deer - see video opposite. Jackdaws nest in holes - plenty of those in the house and park. Their nest are a roungh tangle of sticks - which you can see tehm collecting around April - lined with deer fur.
Get close enough and you wil see they have piercing blue eye that are believed to scare off other birds that may wish to move into the hollow in which they’ve build their nest.
Geoff Rambler’s Walks - Bird Life
What is the difference between a crow and rook? From a distance they look similar but there is a saying “if there’s more than one crow, they're rooks.” A crow’s feathers cover the face and top of beak, a rook has a bare face.
Ring-necked parakeet – probably all in the wild have descended from escaped pets. They nest in the many holes in trees that can be seen in many trees of the park. They are probably going to be first notices by their rather unpleasant squawk.
Treecreepers – can be spotted running up trees searching for insects. They nest in the crevices of trees. Treecreepers can only run up trees so you may see them flying down to start a fresh ascent.EndFragment
Nuthatches are about the size of a Great Tit and nests in holes - teh entrance to which they restrict with mud. They eat nuts and seeds.
They nest late April / May. If you spot one at this time wait patiently – they are never far from their nest.
Unlike the Tree Creeper they can un up and down trees.EndFragment
Green Woodpecker – often spotted flying away. Very distinctive undulating flight. Often seen on the ground feeding on ants. The nest is holes in trees. Also known as a ‘Yaffle’ because of their call.