I had that sinking feeling in my stomach as we set off from my friend’s home – where we are cat and flat sitting – to head off into the Kent countryside. I’d left my trusty Nikon at home and only had my very old iPhone 4 to snap a pic or two and could tell I was going to be filled with regret in the not too distant future.
A few weeks ago when last visiting, we headed to Whitstable for the day and enjoyed fresh oysters and a walk along the coast. This time, however, we were after something greener.
Our first stop was going to be Royal Tunbridge Wells – but as we got there we realised that it wasn’t what we were looking for, even as a breakfast stop, so continued on to the nearest National Trust property only 11 miles away: Scotney Castle.
After a false-start, when Google Maps took us down a very private road towards goodness only knows where, we turned around and found our way to our chosen destination…and goodness me what a destination it is!
The main house gives away nothing of the fairytale magic that awaits visitors along the path. We did the obligatory wandering around with the laminated info – enjoyed the house – and then sat in the sun at the cafe delaying the absolute gratification that was yet to come.
It wasn’t our fault – we just didn’t know.
Eventually, we set off down the path and literally stopped in our tracks. There it was – the castle. A Medieval ruin so magical that it could literally have been designed as the film set for the latest Beauty & The Beast. I almost expected Emma Watson to come singing out of the door as Kevin Kline unhitched his wagon and set off into the distance.
The wisteria and jasmine covered building is just perfect in all of its decay. The empty window frames welcomed in a view of the bluest sky I have ever seen and the creaking warped wooden staircase sang of whispered secrets, in tones only audible to the electric blue darting dragonflies hovering all around.
To get to the castle, a moat has to be breeched and it certainly does delay your progress. You cannot help but stop and wonder at the fairytale scene unfolding before you. The water is covered in blooming lily pads and waterlilies with red-finned silver fish swimming joyfully in the dappled sunlight.
Usually, faced with such untold beauty, I would have the viewfinder of my camera attached to my eye and would be capturing every stunning view. Today, however, with a heavy heart I fumbled in my handbag for my ‘phone and begrudgingly started taking pictures.
Let me confess right here, right now: I have never managed to take a good photo on my ‘phone. Hand me a camera and I just get it. A ‘phone; no.
We started oohing and ahhing as we wandered around the grounds, taking in the castle from every conceivable angle and then all of a sudden, as we meandered down a shady path, we happened upon what I originally decided was Snow White’s House – the one she shared with the Seven Dwarves. You can see why.
As we followed the path around, we could see from amidst the leaves and trees the perfect magical abode from the front. It was actually a boathouse, seated on the edge of the water with no sign of any Disney characters in the vicinty.
Perhaps Belle was having a tea party?
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