Over 100 years ago, she crossed the river by paddle steamer, paid her three pennies and walked up the steps beneath the towering Jubilee Arch, into the Eastham Ferry Pleasure Gardens.
There she saw entertainers on an open air stage, acrobats performing daring feats in the circus ring and listened to music by the bandstand, surrounded by the beautiful fountains and plants of the gardens.
(Copyright Eastham Country Park Sculpture Trail)
Today it is a ‘just’ a lovely wood that provides the perfect surrounding for an afternoon stroll and is loved by dog owners, families and walkers alike. But when I heard that there are the remnants of an old bear pit (though nothing much else) they certainly had my attention.
There is something very satisfying about an autumn afternoon stroll in the woods. The trees show themselves in their best colours, the air has this particular leafy smell that reminds me of jumping into heaps of leaves as a child, squirrels running around to gather their winter supplies, the light is muted and golden and if you’re lucky you can gather some brambles or sweet chestnuts.
I enjoyed all that, that is after I finally found the entrance. It must be one of the worst signposted parks I’ve been to recently, down to a lack of signs after a certain junction. I basically approached it three times from three different directions and just gave up too soon because I thought it couldn’t be right. You could tell the ‘newbies’ apart from the locals by their slow driving, having a confused and somehow lost look on their face. But I made it and it sure was worth it, so that’s all that counts.