Its 6 AM. and time to take my dogs for a walk. I open my front door and immediately smell the beautiful red and pink roses growing in my front gsrden. They are in full bloom together the giant orange poppies that have been in the gsrden ever since I moved in and long before.

I turn on to the main road Hempstead Valley Drive and walk the short walk to Hempstead Road passing the freshly cut grass along the side of the road and down the bank. Turning right into Hempstead Road towards Rainham, I walk past the many houses and bungalows with their manicured lawns and floral gardens. Most of the residents are still in bed but the odd car is beginning to pass me with the drivers on their way to work.
 The dogs are getting excited here because this is where I cross over Star Lane, opposite the entrance to Spekes Raod and turn left into the woods at the bottom of The Darland Banks I can let them off their leads here. Following the path through the woods I can smell the scent of nettles and other woodland plants I gradually climb to the top of the banks.

I am now at the top of the banks walking West towards Chatham. I have the top woods to my right and, on my left, the steep banks where as a kid I used to either roll down or slide down to Star Lane running along the bottom.

 Carrying along the path, I come to a clearing with a seat where I can sit and take in the view. To the West I can see Chatham and beyond, to the South I can see Bluebell hill and looking back I can see Hempstead. I can see yellow Rape fields and green Wheat fields and trees for miles and miles. I can hear all kinds of woodland birds, Jays and Magpies with their strange cackling sound, I can hear the drum of a Green Woodpecker and then suddenly its wierd screech, I think Kentish People call these Yaffle birds because of the sound that they make. I hear the flutter of Wood pigeons scuffling in the trees, Oak, Elm, Sycamore and several more. I see Crows doing their aerobatics and diving into the grassy banks. Suddenly a Fox breaks cover and runs down the banks and disappears into the Bean field at the bottom. Rabbits scurry to their burrows. There are hundreds of rabbits here as it is a nature reserve now and they are protected but years ago I used to come here with a friend who had Ferrets and we used to go home with loads of Rabbits .

It occurs to me that people such as Normans, Saxons, Romans Etc must have taken this same route to Rochester and London and looked across the same hills. Maybe more forest then but basically the same.

I carry on walking passing some fellow early morning dog walkers and come to the a break in the banks where Star Lane cuts through. If I crossed Star Lane I can enter into the second part of the Darlands leading me to Ash Tree Lane. However, I turn left into Star Lane. There are no vehicles allowed in this part, just the odd bicycle.( When I was young the Star Lane was open to cars all the way from Hempstead Road to where it reaches the A2 at Gillingham)

Walking down Star Lane towards Hempstead I pass through a tunnels of trees and chalky banks . I reach the beautiful old Oast House on my left, what tales this place could tell you. I have known it have several owners and indeed a few years ago it was a restaurant where I would often go to eat. It is now a private residence though and the owner recently had it refurbished.

I carry on past the two white cottages on my right. These cottages belong to the surrounding farm. The farm used to be owned by Mrs Bachelor who died a couple of years ago. A friend of mine who lived in one of these cottages told me that it was the lowest point of Hempstead. The traffic is allowed from Hempstead to this point so the dogs are put back on their leads.

 I carry on along the road passing open fields at the bottom of the the Darlands the farmer has planted beans this year but he rotates his crop yearly sometimes Wheat saometimes Rape. If I look to my left, I can see the banks stretching all the way from Hempstead to Chatham.

Finally I come to the end of Star Lane where it reaches Hempstead Road. I turn right here and re trace my steps back to my house in Hickory Dell.

The journey has taken me about an hour and I suppose I have walked three miles or so.

Many people ask me why I came back to England from Australia, perhaps here lies the answer

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