High Rocks near Tunbridge Wells

I hate that feeling of needing a vacation from a vacation, but that’s how it always feels like when I come back from a holiday trip.  Since we wanted the kids to enjoy a normal holiday, we went out of town for a few days.  It was nice to come back and find out that my registration for a license has been approved.  I still have to complete an identity check, but in the meantime, I can scout around for a job.  We also have some landlord issues that need resolving and hopefully that can be accomplished before our lease runs out.  Anyhow, for the next few posts, I hope to get some pictures of some of the things we enjoyed recently.[ad#ad-1]

I’ll start by talking about High Rocks in the Tunbridge Wells area.  They are located in the Rusthall Commons area.  At one time, the commons were just open areas of land that were used for grazing, but over the years, houses have sprung up and many areas have become overgrown with vegetation.  However, there are some natural rock formations that have survived.  But, in order to keep them in good order, it is now run by a trust, and admission is charged.  Yet, it appears that the gate is not always manned, so some people might be able to sneak in.  We have never been ones to take those kinds of risk.

There are walking paths around the rock formations, as well as stairs and bridges to get to the top and across from rock to rock.  Various groups of rock climbers were taking advantage of the nice weather on the day we visited.  Apparently, there are rock climbing guides and High Rocks was included, with hints on how to climb the rocks.  These are not huge rocks and some of the climbers only used their hands and feet to get to the top; but there are some that are higher, requiring some ropes.  The kids imagined themselves as climbers and went up some of the smaller rocks.

There were several inscriptions on some of the rocks, dating back to the 1800s.  Of course, many visitors marked their names on the rocks as well.  But, we were on the look-out for an inscription from the 1700s.  We never found it, but we believe we located the right rock.  It was called “Bell Rock” because legend has it that if you threw a stone into it, it would make a sound like a bell ringing.  However, it is believed that it no longer makes that sound because of moss, damp and various other natural processes.  The inscription was left by a visitor, whose dog fell down the rock and died.

There was a rock called “Toad Rock” because it supposedly resembles a toad – you really have to use your imagination.  The other rocks used to be given other names as well, with respect to objects they resembled.  We’ll need to get some sort of guide book from the library.  In times past, there were huts set up between the rocks for hikers and climbers, but most of them are now lying in ruins.  There was even a tea shop set up in one of the huts, but it is gone.  A rhododendron maze attached to the rocks area is now overrun.  Despite all this, the area does serve as a very nice backdrop for a picnic.  There was even a wedding reception taking place while we were visiting.[ad#ad-1]

Which brings us to the pub.  It appears that the reception was being catered from the High Rocks Inn, which is also where you need to go for tickets into the rocks.  Thankfully, there was a large public car park for visitors and it was free.  The inn is located across the street from the rocks and it has a beautiful garden.  And while you’re up there, you can see the Spa Valley steam railway making trips up and down from Tunbridge Wells to Eridge.

We have yet to explore the historic parts of Tunbridge Wells, such as the chalybeate springs and the Pantilles.  That will be for another day.

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