Posted by: natsevs | December 14, 2010

Minster to Cliftonville

I ended up having a half decent sleep in the end despite the lumpy ground but I did have to add a silk liner and several layers in the night when I woke up freezing. I ate my scone and Mars Bar breakfast still in my sleeping bag then braved the cold as I packed everything down. My tent was really wet with condensation but I got it packed away ok and started walking along the roads again. There was a bloke out with his son in the field to my left and as I passed the son shot a pheasant with his sling shot with perfect aim and walked over to ring its neck like a pro. I kept to the road right to Warden Point where a young guy asked if I’d seen any kittens up the road because he had lost his and seemed pretty upset about it, I told him I had seen what could have been a kitten a little earlier. Let’s hope they didn’t run into the catapult kid. There was a brief spell off the road going through a caravan site but then I was road walking through Warden. Between Warden and Leysdown-on-sea I was able to walk along the front then carried on mostly on path, passing a nudist beach as a few people were arriving onto it with their wind breaks and beach stuff. It looked like they were starting to use the beach how it was intended so I moved on very quickly not wanting an eyeful.

The path continued to Shellness but hit a dead end and I realised I should have turned right a bit earlier so retreated to where I could get along unhindered. There was a proper path along the sea wall from there passing through a nature reserve and along to Harty. Coming to Harty I had to come in onto the road to go through the hamlet then there was supposed to be a path out the other side past some farm buildings. The barns had been converted into houses and whoever had done that was obviously not keen on having a footpath going alongside them and had fenced large parts off. A bridleway along a dirt track on the inland side still existed though so I got past the houses that way then down the hill beyond them. As with by the houses there were more “private, no access” signs at the bottom in the direction I needed to go but there was no physical boundary so I made my way through the fields to join the sea wall once more. When I got to where the map showed a path coming out there wasn’t any signs but there was at least a track which I was now able to follow and none of the gates were locked even with the odd sign implying that maybe I shouldn’t be there still. The track took me through Elmley Marshes where a mini digger drove past me and the guy gave me a bit of a look.

Out from there I had to work my way through a big herd of cows crowded around the gate before a 4×4 drove past and also gave me a ‘what are you doing here’ kind of look. I soon came to an actual path with definite public access though which was part of an RSPB reserve and that plus a road took me to a car park. From the car park I had a long road walk to meet the main road then another long stretch along there back to the bridge. Once over I was back on the Saxon Shore Way but a sign told me that part of it was closed near Sittingbourne. The original plan was that I would get through Sittingbourne and camp but that was looking very unlikely so I decided to ring a few B&Bs to check the situation. I found a cheap one and booked it as the path took me past all sorts of industrial places each with their own horrible smell. The highlights were a sewage treatment works and some sort of wood pulping place which reeked just as badly. When I hit the construction works blocking off the next section of path I was able to get onto another footpath coming in to Kemsley. The estate there is rather strange in that it has been built and surrounded by a levee on almost all sides so it looks like a sunken town. I walked through that and onto the road into Sittingbourne where I stopped of at ASDA and was given a 25p off voucher as a ‘good will gesture’ as the employee “knows it can be hard when you’re bumming around”. I thought this was quite funny and have kept the unused voucher as a keepsake. I got to the B&B to find that I had been booked into their sister house out in the sticks, but thankfully the owners son lived at this B&B and drove me out there. The place I ended up staying in was really nice and in Doddington.

In the morning I was tired because I had ended up watching TV until 1am again but I had a good breakfast when I got up and chatted to the owner. When I had finished breakfast not only did he offer to drive me back to Sittingbourne but also didn’t charge me for the stay at all which I was really grateful for and felt guilty for being hassle. I was dropped off at the train station as the rain that had been going all night started to let off slightly. After briefly rejoining the Saxon Shore way on the roads it was blocked off on this side of the creek as well so I got onto other paths. These were through industry at first then into what was basically a wasteland, with shells of caravans, dumped bricks and a goat and horse tied up in the middle of it all. I got along to the coast though and onto the sea wall to another creek with the sun fighting through. Conyer, sitting on this creek, was a posh little marina village where I encountered some snobby blokes on bikes unfortunately. Back on the sea wall I was heading towards Faversham where I was due to meet up with my mum, dad, Jon and Jade. They were meeting up in Whitstable first though so that there was a car at the finish meaning that when I got to Faversham at 1.45pm I had a half hour wait outside Morrisons. When they all finally arrived we grabbed some sandwiches then started walking out along Faversham creek back to the coast and another sea wall. A very dark cloud was looming inland slightly and coming our way as we progressed and soon enough it was tipping it down with rain leaving me and Jon with soaked legs without waterproof trousers. As we neared Whitstable there started to be a few more people around and odd beach houses popped up to be replaced by some massive fancy places. Going through there I saw my first ever 2-storey beach hut and the people around were very well spoken. Whitstable was a bit like a toy tow with a mix match of different houses and buildings all over but was pretty for it. The sunset was also pretty as we got to the car ready to head back to Faversham. Once we had picked up Jon and Jades car we made our way to Ramsgate where mum and dad had booked a house for us to stay in. It was quite an impressive little place, 1 room wide, 2 deep and 4 floors high but the dog struggled with the stairs.

A few beers in the night meant that I had a sound sleep but was still up before the others. Despite raining most of the night it was a sunny morning as we headed off to Reculver first. After dropping Jon’s car off there we all drove back to Whitstable to start walking. The day started off on road for a bit but then we had promenade all along to Herne Bay with more beach huts as company. In the middle of the sea was a weird structure which was confusing us all until I worked out it might be the old pier head just before we came to a map saying it was the old pier head. Herne Bay was full of people out for a Sunday walk but definitely wasn’t as posh as Whitstable. As it was sunny we got some ice creams from a parlour there and continued on along the promenade below a sloping cliff. We came up at the end to come to a dip straight away where we had to head inland and back out to get round it, to find that we could have stayed on the bottom for a bit longer and come up at a later point. There was a path along the cliff top which was really busy again, going all the way to Reculver. On reaching Reculver, Jon and Jade drove dad back to his car so he could take it onwards to Margate before they made their way home. Me and mum continued walking out of there as it looked like it would take them a while and we planned to meet them in Birchington. The wind had picked up so it was quite cold as we made our way along a flat cycle path on the sea front. The tide was right in and the sea was really rough with the wind throwing the water about.

It took about an hour to get to Birchington and as we approached there was a sea front car park but the others weren’t there. I rang them to work out where they actually were and things didn’t get any clearer. In the end they were about half an hour further on practically at Westgate on Sea. Jon and Jade drove off and the three of us carried on along the Cliff tops towards Margate, dropping down to the lower promenade after a while because the sea had calmed down a bit. There was a proper old school bathing pool on the beach before Margate which is being done up in places but other areas have been left to go into decay a bit. When we got to the car, I walked on a little bit further to Cliftonville then was picked up just as the rain started to come down.

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