More Sa xon Sh ore W ay

Only now it is getting difficult because it isn’t running conveniently from station to station – so we are having to break it down into circular walks which take in bits of it, and look wistfully as the Shoreway runs off into the distance, as we turn the corner and head back to the car the long way round.
We did this walk and it was beautiful, just strenuous enough, and interesting enough – and we got lost once – which means that I just HAVE to buy this.
We set off from Brockhill Country park – which lurks off the road so that you sail past it in the car and have to drive several miles before you can turn around and go back, then have to keep braking as you think that every driveway leads to the park.
After parking in the country park we crossed the road nearby and allmost straight away we joined the Saxon shoreway up this lovely path through woodland. We found these shaggy ink cap mushrooms – although I thought that mushrooms didn’t sprout(or whatever mushrooms do) until the autumn.
The path went on over the motorway and Eurostar track – luckily on two foot bridges!

The path then went steeply up hill – we were both hungry by then so stopped halfway up and had lunch in a field of barley (no – don’t break into song) It was quite windy and the barley looked like silk rippling in the wind – tried both to photograph and video it – but I couldn’t capture it.
At the top of the hill you could see the sea – fantastic view.
We met this little chap with his earrings, and then back into woodland.
We were onto Ministry of Defence land now – but luckily didn’t find any unexploded bombs – only this rather fine bivouac.
Here is an arty farty picture which made Jill say ‘Oh, Mum’ -look – she is cleverly reflected in a blind spot mirror. Give me a camera and I will photograph anything.
Down the hill – one of us ran.
The other sedately followed.
A little further on and the Saxon shoreway went on through this railway arch
-doesn’t it look inviting – but we turned and followed the much less trampled Elham Valley Way.
We were still on MOD land – look at the warning sign with these rather cuddly looking soldiers!
This used to be the railway between Fplkestone and Canterbury – lovely now but sad that it has gone.
The next part felt as if we were fighting our way through jungle – reeds and brambles up to our necks – but we managed to get through to the gate where a soldier would obviously be needed to stop anyone getting through if it had been left open.
Shortly after this we got lost – I know not how – but after climbing a gate and crawling under a fence Jill’s superb mapreading skills got us back on course.
After skirting this hill
it was almost a straight run parallel to the motorway to get us back to the bridge across into the woods leading back to the car park.
One last tree.

There is a cliff, whose high and bending head looks fearfully on the confined deep

Jill and I carried on with the Saxon Shoreway today – going from Dover to Folkestone. We left the car in Folkestone, caught the train to Dover then set off up to the western Heights – through this kissing gate – although the last time it ‘kissed’ must have been some time ago!
It was a very steep path up to the fort at Western Heights –
not very clear where you had to go once you got there! We walked through this tunnel, which to begin with you could walk quite comfortably, but gradually the height got lower and lower, until the last few feet you had to crouch!
It came out above the port – the views were spectacular,
We had to go back through the tunnel to find the path again – the tunnel had only been unlocked as part of an open day at the fort. As we passed a the entrance we heard a man complaining that he had not been able to get through the tunnel – possibly because he was the size of a small elephant. The path went past the ruins of a Knights Templar church, which helpfully had the sign translated into braille – why?

We got wet feet as we went through the underpass under the main road,
and then the path rose steeply again up the other side onto the cliffs.
It was very, very high up – but when the path was close to the edge there was a wall so although my fear of heights is legendary I didn’t fall into disco legs syndrome!It was a beautiful walk across the cliff tops –
we stopped for lunch overlooking the road to Roundhill tunnel – but it was so high up that you could hardly hear the traffic.We came to the Battle of Britain museum on the cliff top – didn’t think much of the statue of the airman – which was a shame –
it was a beautiful spot and the idea of a pilot sat looking out over the sea was wonderful – but the reality didn’t live up to the expectation. We saw my Uncle Stanley’s name on the memorial.
Shortly afterwards the path went down into Folkestone, where we blundered around trying to find the car – no signs for the station and we didn’t have a map.
One last spectacular sight though!

Setting the Pace

We went further along the Saxon shore way today – Jake decided to come with us and drove us down to Faversham where we were planning to get the train to Sittingbourne and walk back. Because of engineering works there were no trains – only a substitute bus service – so we got on the bus and drove out through the back streets of Faversham. It was more interesting ( and much slower!) on the bus – but as we were going along the A2 the bus suddenly stopped in the middle of nowhere and didn’t start again. Eventually we were all asked to get off – which – seeing as the episode of Casualty we had watched the evening before had featured a horrific crash in which passengers of a broken down bus had been mowed down by an out of control car – we did with extreme care and got on to the support bus behind.
We eventually got to Sittingbourne and set off down the picturesque ring road and through the architecturally significant industrial estate. Eventually we came to this church –which was so out of place – and beautiful. Shame it was all boarded up and neglected.
Then we came to the cut through to the river, and walked along the banks through the usual warehouse, and industrial fringe that we had found in every town so far . We passed many dangers – including barking dogs and the danger of electrocution.
It was at this point that Jill started to vanish into the distance – and for the rest of the walk Jake and I puffed and panted in her wake. She graciously allowed us to catch her up on occasion, but even then we were not allowed to rest, as we were forced into even more physical exercise.
Although just occasion we were allowed a five minute rest.
We passed the remains of an old ferry – it is hard to imagine how busy the river must have been when it is so deserted now.
At one point we left the shoreway as it went up a creek – there were some very desirable residences including the most deluxe house boat I have ever seen.
Although it was beautiful along the river it was good to have some variation.

Then it was back to the river for the final stretch up Faversham creek. Note by this time that Jill was completely out of sight and only the slight smell of scorching left by her rapid passing was left in her wake.

Saxon shore way – day three

Maybe we should look at the walk like a string of beads – we are doing the bright shiny bits and leaving out the string. And, today – we went straight for the clasp at the end, as we walked from Rye to Hastings, which is the end of the walk. This was my idea as I wanted to see bluebells. and I could guarantee bluebells on the cliffs at Hastings. Also it was May bank holiday weekend – and that is when you go to Hastings. You should also paint yourself green so as to fit in – but we forgot that bit.
We drove down and parked on a hill quite a way out of the town centre – and walked down to catch a train to Rye. I was tempted to stay and see the dancing and merriment that is Hastings on May Day – but we were just in time for a train so went straight to the station.
It took us about 15 minutes on the train – and about six hours to walk back – if I had had my way it would have taken a lot longer – but Jill is a good pace setter.

We soon discovered that Kent County Council – for all it’s faults – is much better at marking footpaths than Sussex. We blundered our way out of Rye, at one point only Jill’s excellent – and it must be said – stubborn – reading of the map found the correct course of the footpath which had been, to all intents and purpose, erased by the landowner.

Once we had gone through their garden (!) the path went alongside the river Tilling (Go out NOW and buy ‘Mapp and Lucia’ to read- I promise you will enjoy) and through the water meadows. As we left the first section of the walk – we went slightly wrong. There was no sign at all that we could see, and somehow turned down the wrong road. We found out when we reached the sea! So instead of taking a diagonal path across the meadows by a canal – we did the two sides of a square – one along a dusty road and the other along the sea front.
It was very, very hot. I was flagging – but Jill was striding along with me puffing along behind her. We stopped for a drink at the Saxon Chief, before heading for the cliffs. There we caught our first bluebells of the walk.
We stopped for a break once we got to the top of the first cliff, and Jill had some fruit salad – the label showed it contained fat. How? Was it from the sweat of the slave labour peeling the fruit? I had forgotten quite how steep the hills were – and was lagging behind even more than at the beginning.

We were rewarded by more bluebells,
and then, as we started to descend into Hastings, this fantastic view.
On the way down the steps into the town we saw this seagull – he reminded me of the long lost and lamented White Cliffs Experience in Dover.Hastings was packed – a mixture of bikers, folkies and drunks. It was not pleasant!
We were worn out by then, and the car seemed a long, long way away. Up another steep hill!

Next year we really must paint ourselves green.