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The Joys of Walking!

The Joys of Walking!

Postby Gillzajoker » 30 Jan 2020 15:02

Wonderful array of photos there, Dave - and I'm always amazed that you can make it seem
as if you are the only person in the world! :D
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The Joys of Walking!

Postby Dave » 08 Feb 2020 16:15

We needed to take my wife's car to a garage in Canterbury this morning, so we did our weekend walk together from there. :)

The garage is right at the eastern end of the city so I planned a short walk to Westbere Marshes, which form part of a large area of wetlands about 4 miles E-W by 1 mile N-S. Canterbury's river, the Great Stour, winds its way through the marshes and between ponds and lakes and is navigable as far as Fordwich, about 2 miles from the city centre.

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We took paths alongside a railway line for about 3 miles before detouring into Westbere Village then crossing the line and heading into the very wet wetlands. We reached the river and followed it to Fordwich, then made our way along roads back to the garage. It was a rather grey morning but we still took a few photos...

Westbere is a delightful little village with some beautiful old houses:

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This photo is looking back to Westbere in the distance on the far side of the lake:

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A lot of the path through the marshes was as soggy as this...

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Drier land at last!

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Picturesque Fordwich, England's smallest town. The river is beyond the grass - some boats can just be made out:

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We are extremely lucky to have such an amazing variety of places to walk in our part of the country. Within walking distance from home, there are coastal marshes, Ancient woodlands, beaches and cliffs, orchards and farms, idyllic villages, and wetland nature reserves - wonderful! :)
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Re: The Joys of Walking!

Postby rdw123 » 08 Feb 2020 16:26

Lovely little villages. There must have been a lot of rain in that area. Certainly is a lovely part of the country.
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Re: The Joys of Walking!

Postby Camela » 08 Feb 2020 22:31

You really sell your little part of England Dave and it ought to be on my list for a weekend away, though I've passed through to Dover for channel crossings.
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The Joys of Walking!

Postby Gillzajoker » 12 Feb 2020 13:52

Love the photos of the wonderful houses and the lake :D
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The Joys of Walking!

Postby Dave » 17 Feb 2020 15:50

For today's walk I decided to do one of my favourite local routes - one that includes a three-mile stretch alongside the Great Stour river between the village of Chartham and the city of Canterbury. I knew there was a flood warning for this stretch of the Great Stour and so it was an opportunity to see the river at an unusually high level.

I walked through woods and across farmland to Chartham, followed the river along the Great Stour Way path (which is also a stretch of the Stour Valley Walk) into Canterbury, then headed up through the grounds of the University of Kent (where in the distant past I spent a happy three years mostly playing pinball) to rejoin the path home. The walk was 19.1 miles and took 4 hours 36 minutes.

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(Map courtesy of Google Earth)

The river was high but the path was mostly okay for the first couple of miles, with only the occasional big puddle to splash through. The final riverside mile was a different story. At this point, I had no option but to wade through freezing cold water that went well over the tops of my shoes. I could have avoided more wading by crossing the bridge to the right, but I thought this bit would likely be the worst of it, so I went straight on...

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...and tried to take photos of my feet, without much success. For those who might like to know these things, the shoes are Salomon Sandford GTX - very lightweight, grippy, and totally unhappy at being submerged!

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It wasn't long before I realised the path was getting worse instead of better. But with feet as wet and cold as they would get, it seemed best to continue. By the way, this area is known as Hambrook Marshes and the area to the left is wet most of the year anyway.

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Another couple of hundred yards further on, the path wasn't just flooded - the river had overflowed and now my trousers were getting soaked to the knees. Funnily enough, about 30 minutes earlier when I'd just started along the river, I passed someone whose trousers were soaked to the knees and I wondered how that had happened...

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After another hundred yards or so of sploshing, I finally reached dry ground. I was soon in Canterbury where some flood defences were in place - thankfully I didn't see any serious breaches.

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The river by Canterbury's Westgate Towers, where in more suitable times punts can be hired...

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I noted the time when the wading stopped in order to see how long things would take to dry. My trusty nylon Mountain Warehouse trousers took just ten minutes - amazing! Not surprisingly, my shoes and socks were still very wet when I got home, but my feet stopped feeling freezing - and therefore I stopped thinking about them - before about half-an-hour had passed. Worth knowing for future reference... :)
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The Joys of Walking!

Postby judgegeoff » 17 Feb 2020 16:54

A very interesting walk (wade?) Dave, next time I would suggest you take a snorkel! Still beautiful country though.
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Re: The Joys of Walking!

Postby rdw123 » 17 Feb 2020 17:14

You’re a glutton for punishment. Rather you than me. Lovely photos and it looks very boggy.
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The Joys of Walking!

Postby Gillzajoker » 18 Feb 2020 10:44

Loved all the photos, Dave - viewed from my warm and dry position. All I can say, (with respect) is,
you are a masochist! :D
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The Joys of Walking!

Postby Dave » 21 Feb 2020 17:33

The problem with winter is that I tend to stick to local walks, but with the days getting longer I need to get back into exploring further afield. Dover's only about 30 miles away and I thought that a walk from nearby Samphire Hoe would get me back into the swing of things!

I worked out a 16 mile route in the area between Dover and Folkestone of which half would be new to me. The new bit would be inland, while the familiar bit would be along the high clifftop overlooking the sea. I've tilted the map to show Samphire Hoe and the cliffs more clearly...

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I've mentioned Samphire Hoe before, but to recap: it's a nature reserve at the foot of 400ft chalk cliffs that was created using the 'diggings' from the Channel Tunnel. There's an information centre, a cafe and all-day car parking for only £2 - which is the main reason I've started lots of walks from there!

Samphire Hoe is reached by means of a single lane tunnel through the cliff - the tunnel is just visible on the right of the photo. The Channel Tunnel runs directly under the site.

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The Dover area is very hilly and today's walk was made tougher than usual because of the strong westerly wind. I'd expected the return to be easy with a following wind, but it was so strong that it was more of a hindrance. The mud didn't help either!

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The weather was cloudy and dull so it wasn't a great day for photos. I took this to show a lane that was typical of the countryside here...

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I said the area is hilly and that can be seen from my 'glamping' photos...

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I spotted my first flowering primrose of the year! :)

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I also came across a small slow worm on the path. I moved it to a safer spot (not that anyone else was out walking today!).

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The path along the clifftop is part of the North Downs Way, and this is easily one of the best sections. A view of Folkestone from a trig point...

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Further along and down below is a wooded area called The Warren - it's a fascinating place; the paths in and out are very steep so it's rare to see anyone there, and it has its own microclimate and feels like a jungle.

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Just after I took the last photo, the wind changed gear as if a huge fan had been switched on. Suddenly, it was difficult to walk, although coming up the cliff and from behind at least the wind wasn't a danger, just a pain!

Every so often, the path went through a thick mass of undergrowth that provided welcome shelter...

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...although the sheltered bits came with their own challenges - mud! This was the kind of mud that's too slippery to walk through, while trying to walk on one side of it means that you slip down to the middle, so it becomes a matter of straddling the path with one foot on either side - and the wider the path, the more silly you look!

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The England Coast Path offers two choices here: inland to the left, or what is one of my very favourite paths - straight on along the cliff edge. There's a handrail for safety and today I had to hang onto it to stay upright in the wind.

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A sound mirror high up on the cliff..

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I had planned to follow the cliff-edge path back to Samphire Hoe, but the wind became too strong and I couldn't prevent my walk turning into a run, so I went a short way inland to follow a cycle track back.

The tunnel down to Samphire Hoe:

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Despite the less than desirable conditions, I thoroughly enjoyed this walk. Actually, I suppose a little adversity adds to the fun, and it's always good when there's no one else about. The walk was a fraction over 16 miles and it took 4 hrs 9 mins, slower than usual but not bad considering the conditions. :)
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