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The Joys of Walking!

The Joys of Walking!

Postby Dave » 15 Oct 2019 16:00

Today's circular walk linked a previous route near Bethersden, which is to the south-west of Ashford, with walks to the south when I was doing the Royal Military Canal and Saxon Shore Way near Romney Marsh.

I parked in Hamstreet and followed the Greensand Way for a couple of miles through very muddy woods and fields before using roads and byways to visit Bromley Green, Shadoxhurst, Woodchurch and Kenardington - none of which I'd seen before.

As walks go, this one was okay. Things got off to an irritating start when I got stuck in a terrible traffic jam in Ashford where it took me 20 minutes to get from one side of a roundabout to the other! The weather wasn't as good as I'd hoped it would be and some of the roads after Woodchurch were too busy for my liking. Having said that, the first few miles were excellent and I enjoyed sploshing through the mud, and the villages I saw were all really nice. I didn't chance returning through Ashford, instead I went via Hythe which made for a long but pleasant drive home.

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I didn't know that the large wood outside Hamstreet is a National Nature Reserve...

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I was wearing my brand new trousers for the first time and they were soon covered in mud, which is a good thing! My almost new Salomon GTX shoes had a good workout too and they coped perfectly. :)

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Most of the Greensand Way is much clearer than this...

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This is an unrestricted byway I walked along some time later; it looks as though some people have had fun in their 4x4s...

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The rain prevented me from taking many more photos, but I always like to bag churches. This is the cute little church in Shadoxhurst...

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...and this is the big impressive church in Woodchurch.

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That was the first walk of my fourth year exploring Kent on foot. :)
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The Joys of Walking!

Postby Gillzajoker » 16 Oct 2019 09:36

Like the photos of the churches, but would hate all that mud - ugh! :D
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Postby Dave » 31 Oct 2019 17:25

I recently entered my fourth year of trying to walk everywhere in Kent without once setting foot in the Medway towns of Rochester, Chatham, Gillingham and Rainham. The big hole in my walks map needed filling, so that was today's challenge.

For those unfamiliar with Kent, the Medway towns form a conurbation with a unitary authority independent from Kent County Council, but, whether I like it or not, it's still a part of Kent and it had to be walked!

My plan was to link a previous walk that had just touched Rainham in the east with my walk along the North Downs Way that crossed the M2 Medway Bridge to the west. I decided to park at Riverside Country Park so that I could follow the Saxon Shore Way from there to the Medway Bridge, then come back through the towns along urban streets and the busy A2 beyond Rainham before heading up to the river and back to the car. The outbound section was surprisingly interesting - the return less so!

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The Saxon Shore Way passes through the country park and I was on the path in minutes. The last place on the signpost is Horrid Hill, but I don't remember passing it. The tide was out as I set off but all of the marsh was completely submerged when I got back:

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I can see buildings in the distance!

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The Medway towns have a long naval and military history and there are signs of it everywhere. This is the Royal Engineers Museum...

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...and this is a statue of Lord Kitchener:

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I think that the most attractive and interesting part of Medway is Rochester. This is Eastgate House on the High Street, which dates from the 16th century and apparently features in at least two Dickens' novels:

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This is Rochester Cathedral - the second oldest cathedral in England:

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And this is the magnificent Rochester Castle:

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The biggest second-hand bookshop in England. It's an amazing place - more like a book-filled maze than a shop!

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Walking alongside the River Medway towards the big bridge in the distance. I suppose it's only a matter of time before the opposite bank is developed...

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I followed a rough path to the underside of the bridge hoping to find the North Downs Way which I remembered being somewhere around here. I found it!

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The long and quite tedious trek to Rainham had nothing worth photographing, with the exception of Foord Almshouses near Borstal. Very posh!

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The walk was 18 miles, with the first half being surprisingly interesting - a really nice waterside walk and lots of impressive buildings. The return through residential streets and several miles along the straight and busy A2 (a Roman road) was just exercise! :)
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Remaining land-based holidays 2019: July - Peak District, August - Harris and Highlands, October - Brecon Beacons
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Re: The Joys of Walking!

Postby rdw123 » 01 Nov 2019 08:22

Dave. What wonderful pictures. You certainly brought back memories as Borstal was where I lived. I had forgotten all about the alms houses, they were always very posh. So were the houses in the road, when we first got married they were fetching £10,000. A figure you could only dream of having, hate to think what they are now. Plus several noughts I should think! Is Dickens summer house still in the garden of Eastgate House? It was for years but I have an idea it was moved to the Dickens Museum. The flats to the left of the river, with the bridge in the distance, used to be Cav Lucas factory where I worked for a time. Further along was the Shorts seaplane factory. Thanks for the memories. You brightened up a very dull day.
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The Joys of Walking!

Postby Dave » 01 Nov 2019 09:08

Hi Ruth. As I walked through Borstal I remembered you saying that you used to live there. It's a really nice part of Medway - easily the best I saw - and some of the houses looked very impressive. I was surprised by how hilly the area is, but perhaps I shouldn't have been because I guess it's part of the North Downs. Excellent views too.
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The Joys of Walking!

Postby Dave » 05 Nov 2019 18:18

For today's walk, I explored the area around Sittingbourne. I'm not sure how to describe Sittingbourne's location - it's sort of near the North Kent coast by the Swale, which is a strip of sea separating mainland Kent from the Isle of Sheppey. The Swale is shallow, muddy and marshy, and is visited by huge numbers of birds but not by many people. Despite being close to the large town of Sittingbourne, the creeks and marshes to the north can feel like a desolate wilderness.

I have to admit that I've never liked Sittingbourne, which is why it's taken me so long to do a walk there. I've driven through it on the A2 many times and I've visited the shopping areas occasionally, and I've always thought it to be a scruffy, industrial, grotty place. I didn't change my mind about the town centre or the industrial northern part today, but I discovered that the area to the south of the A2 is really nice and the villages just outside the town, such as Borden, Tunstall and the wonderfully named Hearts Delight are extremely pleasant. And the section of my walk between Sittingbourne and the Sheppey bridges along Milton Creek and the Swale was quite fascinating.

I parked in the centre of town and headed north, following Milton Creek to the Swale and on to (and under) the old and new Isle of Sheppey bridges. Then I made my way to the village of Iwade and out into quite empty countryside following quiet lanes to Chestnut Street. From there I walked through Borden, Hearts Delight and Tunstall and back into Sittingbourne from the south. The distance was 16.25 miles.

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The first challenge was to find the path out of the industrial area to the creek. I was relieved when I spotted it...

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The path led to Milton Creek. Looking back I could see a sign down by the creek showing 'The Mouth' and 'The Head'...

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I went towards the mouth... :)

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The path followed the creek and the Swale for about 6 miles and there were nearly always high industrial fences to my left. I passed sewerage works, power stations, cement works and the like, but no people. The path was clearly very rarely used so I was surprised to come across a picnic table. It was a nice spot, but at least 3 miles from civilisation!

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I thought this was worth a photo - it's a power station that burns rubbish, and it looks good too!

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Further on I passed another power station (it's in the distance here). This one had big piles of what looked like scrap wood nearby, so I guess it's also a rubbish-burner:

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The path took me inland for a while along an embankment where cattle had churned the path to mud very recently. I was happy to see them some way off to the side of the path!

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I passed a derelict railway track. The new Sheppey bridge is in the distance...

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This is a narrow part of the Swale with Sheppey across the water. That part of the island is Elmley Marshes, the site of one of the largest nature reserves in England and (I think) the biggest privately-owned one.

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Looking towards the Sheppey bridges - the old lift bridge (closest) is still in use.

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I took most of today's photos during the wilderness part of the walk, so there are only a few of the last two-thirds. This is typical of the lanes I walked between Iwade and Borden:

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The church and a pub at Borden:

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An oast house and thatched cottages at Tunstall:

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The thing I really liked about this walk was that it changed my mind about Sittingbourne. Okay, lots of the area is pretty grotty, but I like desolate marshes and discovering charming old villages. And Sittingbourne itself has some extremely nice parts too. :)
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The Joys of Walking!

Postby judgegeoff » 05 Nov 2019 22:11

A very interesting and well illustrated post Dave, thanks for posting it. It is not an area I am familiar, although my wife Chris was born not very far away, at Queenborough on the Isle of Sheppey.
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Re: The Joys of Walking!

Postby rdw123 » 06 Nov 2019 08:16

Lovely photos Dave. Sittingbourne itself always was grotty so nothing much has changed there. As you say the surrounding areas are nice.
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Postby Dave » 09 Nov 2019 15:59

The aim of today's Weekend Walk With my Wife was to see some wild animals. :)

The OS map shows a public footpath going straight through Howletts Wild Animal Park near Canterbury. A bit of research found that Howletts had tried to have the footpath closed some time ago, but without success. This was definitely worth investigating...

I worked out a circular route starting at a park and ride on the Dover Road outside Canterbury. Most of the walk was across farmland and through farmyards and we went through the lovely village of Patrixbourne on the way back.

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The long lane leading to Woolton Farm passed through apple and cherry orchards. As we neared the farm, there were redcurrants to our left and strawberries to our right:

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Autumnal trees...

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We found the path and almost immediately saw elephants in the distance.

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It seemed that we were much closer to the elephants than those who'd paid to see them!

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There were two footbridges along the path that made excellent viewpoints - one near the elephants and the other overlooking an enclosure for Red River Hogs (I googled them!)...

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Although we didn't see other animals today, we thought the free visit to Howletts was a tremendous success! Heading off across the fields we passed the ruins of a chapel:

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I've walked through Patrixbourne many times (it's on the North Downs Way), but I hadn't arrived from today's direction before. We added alpacas to the animals spotted list...

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A bit of Patrixbourne:

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This was actually our second 'free visit' to a wildlife park this year. In the summer we explored footpaths going through Port Lympne - a large animal reserve near Hythe. We saw giraffes and other animals a fair way off, but we got close to Eland and Hyenas. :)
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The Joys of Walking!

Postby judgegeoff » 09 Nov 2019 16:45

An interesting safari Dave, many thanks for sharing it with us. :thumbup:
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