TAKE A WALK WITH ME THROUGH: LANGDON HILLS COUNTRY PARK
Whilst there are a number of extensive trails that one can follow around Langdon Hills Country Park, I will be focusing on the areas of One Tree Hill, Northlands Wood and Martinhole Wood in particular.
Let’s begin at One Tree Hill car park; you’ve arrived and stepped out of your car. Now, which way to go? There may be a couple of things that catch your eye. The first, a small closed off looking building – these are the toilet facilities with a notice board centred on the middle of the building. Useful to know, especially if you’ve just had a long journey to the park! On the left of that is an eco-friendly hub. The walls have been crafted out of old cans and some more information about the park and sustainability can be read about within the structure. Just like that, you’re a step in the right direction to begin your hike! I really do mean it when I say hike by the way! Brace yourselves for some hills to climb, views to gaze at and to go off the beaten track!
Ready? Let’s go! Up the stairs and carry on until you feel the ground beneath you level off a little bit. The hilly incline will lead you to a ridge displaying panoramic views over the A13 and the Thames Estuary. Fancy a little break to soak in the scenery? There are plenty of benches dotted around this part of the park with open grassland, perfect for picnics, letting the dogs loose or a game of frisbee, catch or other preferred sports activity. If you’re like me and would prefer to explore first and rest later, follow me as we head into Northlands Woods. At this point, I should probably mention that the best time of year to venture into the woods is between spring and autumn. Basically, the drier the weather, the better, as the forged paths within can become extremely slippery during the wetter seasons and no one wants to be sliding around through leafy sludge, right?! It probably goes without saying, wear appropriate footwear if you do decide to venture in anyway! Once in the woods, there are going to be many crossroads where you can head off in different directions. My advice is, that once you’ve conquered the next hill, keep straight and left – this should lead you in a circle, to one of the lower car parks along One Tree Hill. As you walk through the woods, you’re likely to spot some squirrels and hopefully pass by the purposefully built conservation area where you can often find birds feeding as you peak in through the gaps. Langdon Hills Country Park is surrounded by farm land, so be on the lookout for horses, cows, other critters and crops as you walk around.
Exiting the woods, continue along the bridle way, past the lower car park and across the road, you will enter the third and final part of the park I will be sharing with you; Martinhole Woods. They say to save the best for last after all! A short way along the bridle path will be an opening into the woods itself. This part of the park boasts ancient woodlands and from researching a little more about this area in particular, some interesting stories! Wondering through this neck of the woods, is like stepping back in time, just with the hum of cars whizzing by in the distance. Now, for the real gem that’s hidden on the outskirts of the woods. Vange Well No. 5. A domed building of a former mineral well. The structure resembles that of a Grecian temple, with the well dug into the centre of the building on a concrete base. It has stood in this spot since the early 1900’s and is now a composition of architectural ruins. Unfortunately, I cannot recall the exact route within the woods to get to this spot, so I’ll leave it with your adventurous spirit to find it!
GOOD TO KNOW
Location: One Tree Hill, SS17 9NH
Facilities: Toilets with disabled access, Picnic areas
Approximate trail time: 2 hours
Best time of year to visit: Spring – Autumn
Accessibility: Steep hills and stiles to access different parts of the country park, Use bridle ways/cycle tracks in wetter conditions