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Return to Thanet, part 2 - Return to Devil’s Dyke

Updated: Jul 14, 2023

I assumed that time was going to be limited. I fully expected to be told that the funeral was going to take place in a week or so. With that in mind, I planned out a route that would take us back to Thanet in just about half a dozen stops.

Kithurst Hill was going to be the first stop. However, the little lane that led up to the summit is very narrow. The truck was coping fine until we turned a sharp 90° bend, from which the lane ascended sharply. It didn’t take long before the incline was simply too steep. Not for the first time, I had to reverse back down, fortunately finding a good point to turn around. Back at the main road, I decided to head straight for the next stop, Devil’s Dyke.

I decided that it would be a lot easier and quicker to take the main A27 south coast road. The climb from the dual carriageway is short and minimal. On arrival, I was surprised to find that the common parking has been reduced by about half, which meant that getting out again was going to be a bit of a mission. I was going to have to wait for a convenient moment to turn around in order to be able to get out. Still, no rush. I settled in. I opened the front door to discover Armageddon. I spend most of the time on country roads, often uneven and potholed, yet usually, don’t have to do much more than reset a few jars in the cupboards when setting up. After travelling along a fast dual carriageway which one appears to float over, I was surprised to find that just about everything had moved. It took a while to clear the debris. The worst was the fact that the Monkey Puzzle branch had fallen. Fortunately, there was no other damage.

I have written about Devil’s Dyke previously, as part of the ‘chapter’, On the road again - 11 - The South Downs. However, as I still haven’t got around to publishing it yet, I can’t refer you back to it. It is an amazing place. John Constable, the famous Romance landscape painter, was a frequent visitor and declared the view atop Devil’s Dyke ‘The grandest view in the world’.

Whenever I am here, I am reminded of the W. H. Davies poem, Leisure.

‘What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.’

Looking out over the vista, I was able to trace my journey from the point where I ‘came into view’ at Ashdown Forest,*

on to West Hoathly,*

Pease Pottage,*

St. Leonard’s Forest*

and Black Down,*

a journey of nearly eight weeks.

One morning, there was an aggressive knock at the door with an equally aggressive, “Are you in!”

Keeping my cool, I pulled the curtain to one side. I was then accused of throwing ‘food’ out, which the aggressive man’s dogs had apparently eaten. I sternly pointed out that he had no business accusing me of anything that he had no evidence of. I pointed out the numerous visitors who invariably had picnics with them. I also made it clear that I cannot afford to throw food away and that, as far as rubbish in general is concerned, I am acutely aware of finger pointing, just as he had, so therefore, often picked up rubbish whenever I arrived at a pitch. The angry man backed down and offered a half-hearted apology.

I went for a little walk along the ridge of the escarpment. It was lovely and peaceful. There were loads of butterflies and insects in general. There are apparently as many as 40 species of flowers per sq.yd. on the Downs.

One day, a number of radio hams turned up. They had an array of antennas, listening and talking to people from all over. It was quite interesting talking to one or two of them about their hobby. I also had a lovely chat with a young couple, Colin and Alice, if I remember correctly. All in all, I was very pleasant.

The evening before I headed on, I had to wait until about midnight before I could turn around. The car park, understandably, gets incredibly busy. I had to reverse to a point where I could physically turn the whole combo around in one move. I then reversed back into the corner. The next day, I unhitched the trailer, then ran down to a village called Fulking, where there is a spring. Unfortunately, right in the middle of the village, a delivery van had slipped off of the driveway to a property. The driver had apparently managed to drive up it, but couldn’t reverse back for some reason. There was a recovery van there with cables attached to the stranded van holding it upright. They were waiting for a second recovery vehicle to help with the recovery. Rather than turn around to find an alternative route, I simply walked the few yards to the spring.

By the time I arrived back at Devil’s Dyke, the car park was packed. Though I was able to park by my caravan, I had to wait for the traffic to clear before I could re-hitch. In the meantime, I relaxed and watched the numerous paragliders.

*see respective entries

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