When we awoke on the second day of our England adventure, the only member of the household there to greet us was floppy, the bunny. As I mentioned in our previous post, both my brother and his wife work long hours and had left the house a couple of hours before Dorothy and I even stirred. We had a typically English breakfast consisting of toast, jam and tea (myself) and coffee for Dorothy. Around 10:30, we made a leisurely departure from South Woodham Ferrers and headed towards Royal Tunbridge Wells and certain adventure 😉
For the second, but not even nearly the last time, we were soon stuck in the morass of traffic that seems to have a death grip around London on the M25. Although many modern cities have traffic congestion, I question whether many of them have quite as much as London for as many hours of the day! Fortunately, we did not have to stay on it for too long but still had to negotiate the Dartford Crossing (over the river Thames). Even though one can use a transponder and avoid the worst of the traffic back-up at the toll booths, remarkably few of the stoic British seem to do so. It is almost as if the long-suffering commuters are actually taking some perverse communal glee in sitting in the glaring heat inching forward to pay their dues at one of the myriad toll booths manned by other glum Brits.
Once again, we are putting our faith in the GPS to find our way. Dorothy has checked various sources and selected a site called High Rocks as our interim destination before picking up our daughter, Christa and her husband Mik, as they arrive at Gatwick en route from Strasbourg. Even though these devices are far from infallible, it is hard to remember just how difficult it used to be navigating the countryside without them.
Our real adventures did not begin until we approached our destination. When we were within a mile or so, we missed a turning and took a wrong one instead. Upon back-tracking, we discovered that the GPS was leading us down a somewhat suspect lane. Dorothy thought that maybe it was the beginning of a walking path to High Rocks since there were a number of vehicles parked willy-nilly at the sides of the road. Unconvinced, I coaxed our trusty Meriva down the garden path. The lane curved and twisted, widened and narrowed for a while and then, all of a sudden, our GPS chirped: “You have reached your destination!”. Only, we obviously had not…. All we could see was fields and more fields. Nary a rock to be seen, high or not. Behind was a possible walking path. Ahead, the lane appeared to degrade into a cart track which promised to lead us away from our destination.
Dorothy was in favour of turning around and following the ‘footpath’. I managed to convince her that we should venture ahead for at least a little, however unpromising it might appear. At first, it seemed like our worst fears were to be realised as the road became less and less promising. Suddenly, out of nowhere, a cluster of buildings appeared with cars parked left and right. Obviously not High Rocks but at least some semblance of civilisation. We drove past and soon were back into unrelenting countryside. We gave up on finding High Rocks but decided to head back to the agglomeration of buildings and perhaps ultimately to the ‘footpath’. As we neared said civilisation cluster, we saw an entrance to what appeared to be a public parking lot. There was no sign to this effect that we could see but the main gate was open and beckoning to us.
As we pulled into the parking lot, it became apparent that this was something that could be or have been popular, since there was space for 100+ cars in the main lot and another lot just out of sight. However, at this time, there was little sign of life with fewer than a handful of cars dotted about. We decided to park and explore a little, since we had pretty much given up of finding the elusive High Rocks. So, we set out across the main lot to the track that lead to the second overflow lot. From this second lot, we saw an unmarked but obvious walking path and decided to follow it. We wandered around aimlessly trhough farmers fields, forests and meadows for half an hour before coming across a couple of workers chopping trees. Upon further investigation, we discovered some kind of park with some kind of fence around it and somehow, we managed to be on the inside of it. After a little more poking around, we found and explored some interesting rock formations. It slowly dawned upon us that perhaps we had stumbled across the elusive High Rocks.
We made ourselves at home for a while and wandered around. Finally, we found what appeared to be an official entry/exit gate and found that it brought us out in the middle of the cluster of buildings that we had seen just before the parking lot. The main building turned out to be a pub: The High Rocks, no less. Entry to the grounds that we had stumbled upon was £3 to be paid in the pub. At this point, neither Dorothy nor I was inclined to fork over said sum under the particular circumstances. We made up for it by going into the pub and having some lunch! You can read about our Pub Lunch experience here on our sister blog – JustRW -Home of the Un-Chef.