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Adventure on the North Downs.

Current thoughts on my mule: bbhdsfwerjeot[g ADORABLE. I love him so much I can't talk about him coherently. He's awesome. He's put his nose into the halter two days in a row, now, when I go to catch him. And when I take his halter off at the end of our session, he stays with me. :)

Anyway. Today I mostly had a day off, so Ben and I went adventuring in the North Downs. We started at St Martha-on-the-hill, a 12th century church, and transcribed a circuitous route down in the weald and back up again (today's educational insight: 'weald' is related to 'wald', the German word for forest. At the time of the Saxon invasion the entire valley would have been thickly forested, and a pretty dangerous place to be). Along the way we explored the ruins of the Gunpowder Mill, which was seriously awesome - I'm fascinated by the idea of buildings returning to nature, and it was really cool to see it up close.

View from the North Downs

The view from St Martha's churchyard. We live on the horizon line somewhere! None of my photos of the church itself are worth reproducing, but luckily Google comes to the rescue.

St. Martha's graveyard

We took the route less traveled down into the woods, which was nice as it meant there were hardly any people about and we got to enjoy the bluebells all by ourselves.

Bluebell path

Bluebell path

Bluebell wood

Action glenatron!

Action Ben

Ben very rarely smiles in photos. I'm not sure why. It's nice when he does. :)

I found a handsome guy!

A wild Ben appears...

A wild Ben appears

Counting the age of one of the (many) fallen trees; a relic from those awful gales we had earlier this year.

Reading the age of a tree

The Tillingbourne, which was used to power the Gunpowder Mill. Fast fact: 'bourne' is from an Old English word, brunna, meaning stream.

The Tillingbourne

There was a fallen tree across it that I naturally had to climb on.

The Tillingbourne

I found a place

Another action Ben!

Action Ben

Part of the Gunpowder Mill. Can you see it? There was an explosion here in 1901, killing 6 people. It was the worst explosion in the history of gunpowder mills. Considering it only fell out of service a hundred years or so ago, I think it's incredible how much the vegetation has taken hold.

Gunpowder Mill ruins

I don't think the photos convey the scale of the place very well, but - what remained of it - was massive.

Gunpowder Mill ruins

Looking down into one of the rooms.

Gunpowder Mill ruins

I then very nearly fell down the stairs in my hurry to join Ben and explore, but luckily I saved myself by slamming my hand into the wall. Unfortunately I used the same hand that was holding my camera. :| Luckily, it seems to be unscathed...

Gunpowder Mill ruins

Gunpowder Mill ruins

Gunpowder Mill ruins

Looking up to try and give you an idea of the scale.

Gunpowder Mill ruins

The original swingbridge of the tramway; the rails needed to move, as the stream was used by punts to ferry various items around the site.


More ruins.

Gunpowder Mill ruins

Then we made our way back to the church, via the bluebell studded woods.

Bluebell wood

A white bluebell! A whitebell?

White bluebell

And these are some deer that I disturbed during a solo walk later in the day.

Roe deer

We had lunch at a pub on the halfway point, which turned out to be South African themed - I ate springbok, which was delicious! My quest to eat various animals continues admirably. 


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 20th, 2014 12:49 am (UTC)
You live in and around such amazing, beautiful places! Thanks for sharing!
Apr. 20th, 2014 09:59 pm (UTC)
I've only been in the area for a couple of years, nearly, so I'm still awed by how pretty the landscape is. I love me some hills and forests!
Apr. 21st, 2014 03:19 pm (UTC)
I think it would take a very, very, VERY long time to tire of such a place if it was even possible!
Apr. 20th, 2014 01:38 am (UTC)
what a gorgeous place. are bluebells a noxious weed?
Apr. 20th, 2014 10:07 am (UTC)
Unusually for flowers one sees carpeting the ground, they are actually a much loved native plant. They grow on the floor of woodlands and flower at this time of year because it is just before the trees come into full leaf, so they need to get most of their work out of the way before the light is taken up by the canopy. Typically I would say they mark the mid-point of English spring.
Apr. 20th, 2014 01:59 am (UTC)
It's gorgeous there!
Apr. 20th, 2014 10:00 pm (UTC)
I feel very fortunate to be able to enjoy it! :)
Apr. 20th, 2014 05:09 am (UTC)
do you know, when I see one of your rambler adventure posts I run off, get a cup of tea and sit here ABSORBING it all :D You guys are so disgustingly lucky. And such a beautiful part of the country too. Right, I am SO going back. DAMN why does it have to be so expensive!!!!!
Apr. 20th, 2014 10:02 pm (UTC)
:D That is a lovely thing to hear! I'm glad you enjoy these tl:dr posts, haha.

If you do come back you DEFINITELY have to visit us, oki? It's the law. You're not allowed back into the country otherwise. Maybe by then I'll have a riding mule for you to try!
Apr. 21st, 2014 08:54 am (UTC)
oh hellz to the yes!
Apr. 20th, 2014 07:35 am (UTC)
Such amazing pictures! I am insanely jealous of where you live. ;)
Apr. 20th, 2014 10:02 pm (UTC)
I love this area a lot! :)
Apr. 20th, 2014 08:27 am (UTC)
So beautiful! :) I love the sight of old buildings being taken over by nature too, they almost feel magical. Glad things are going well with Marty the mule too!
Apr. 20th, 2014 10:03 pm (UTC)
Yeh, there's something strangely satisfying about seeing man-made structures return to nature; also something quite humbling.
Apr. 20th, 2014 11:52 am (UTC)
I usually call the white ones snowdrops. I have no idea what they're really called. I have way too many bluebells in my garden and back yard. Now I'm tempted to secretly plant them at a nearby city trail.

This whole adventure looks amazingly beautiful and fun.
Apr. 20th, 2014 10:06 pm (UTC)
Snowdrops and bluebells are different plants, here; we tend to get snowdrops very early on in the year, like February time. This one was definitely a white bluebell, apparently you can sometimes find them in the wild (although I think they're more common as a special garden variety).

Oh you totally should plant some in secret! That would be an awesome thing to do.
Apr. 20th, 2014 05:54 pm (UTC)
The moss covered building is stunning. I used to ride on some state land that had buildings (communication look outs or something) from WWI. Very cool, and near and dear to my heart.

I like Action Ben! ;)
Apr. 20th, 2014 10:10 pm (UTC)
That must have been a fun area to ride through! There were a lot of bridleways here - and some went past the gunpowder mill - but we'd have to box our horses over in order to ride there. Still, maybe one day. :)
Apr. 21st, 2014 02:05 pm (UTC)
It was a blast. My friend and I spent all of our summers exploring the area. We'd pack a lunch and make a day of it. It would be fun to ride through! Especially if there were more buildings to explore!
Apr. 21st, 2014 08:45 am (UTC)
That post just killed me! ♥ I definitely have to get out of London the next time I'm in the UK.
In a way, it reminds me a lot of the forests we have here, although we don't have enough of them for my taste (let alone any decent explorable ruins). There's only one "Wald" in my immediate area and I've done all those small and bigger trails to death. Especially in spring, the forest is my favorite place to be.
Apr. 21st, 2014 11:57 pm (UTC)
You live in such a beautiful area, we're both lucky to live around the Downs I think. Both North and South are equally perfect <3
May. 2nd, 2014 04:39 am (UTC)
Hello New Friend! When do I get to see pictures of this mule? I need a mule fix.
May. 2nd, 2014 09:21 pm (UTC)
I think this link will show you all the entries with the mule photos :) http://herecirm.livejournal.com/tag/photos%3A%20martin
May. 3rd, 2014 03:10 am (UTC)
Oh my goodness! So cute! I miss my mules.
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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