Well it’s been quite awhile since I last updated my blog, October 2020 in fact! I have been busy though, with a range of gardening and DIY projects all completed through our recent lockdown. I have managed a few local walks over the Winter, but nothing too strenuous, thus my apprehension about starting my coastal walk up again.
My plan was continue where I left off in Dymchurch in Kent and continue walking westwards over two days. To break me gently back into the routine, I had planned a couple of easy days with an overnight stay, well that was the plan!
I made a very early start from Shropshire to avoid the morning traffic on the M25. I parked up in Rye railway station car park, at £2.90 a day , it was a reasonable charge compared to other council run car parks. I then had to get to the start of my walk at Dymchurch. The Traveline website gave me a route which involved three changes of buses, but curiously all with the same bus service number – 102. Only as I was about to alight at Lydd, did I find out that the same bus ran the whole way to Dymchurch – it turned out to be an expensive fare for me! At Dymchurch after getting off the bus I walked the short distance to the sea wall along a path I had trodden some 7 months ago.
The weather was cloudy with the odd shower around. I could still just about make out the French coastline and the whole coastline back towards Folkestone. I passed by two Martello Towers as I left Dymchurch behind me. My view southwards along the coast was drawn to the large square buildings of Dungeness Power station in the far distance. I continued along the sea wall past the small villages of St Marys and Littlestone-on-Sea. As I entered Greatstone-on-Sea not only did the sea wall end, but the first of many frequent showers hit me. I soon transferred down onto the wide open beach where the compacted sand made for easy and rapid walking.
I transferred back onto the Dungeness access road just before the Pilot pub, one of two pubs on the weird and wonderful headland that is Dungeness. I was now heading towards the newer of the two lighthouse, although this was in fact the sixth lighthouse to be built on the shifting shingle. A collection of small cabins, shacks and cottages soon appeared, each with a different appearance and were scattered over the landscape which is also home to a collection of flora and fauna unique to this part of the UK. All of this though was overshadowed by the twin power stations of Dungeness A and B. While Dungeness A ceased generating back in the ’80s, B has a new 10 year licence to begin generating again this year after a string of earlier safety concerns.
I was now heading westwards past the Power Station towards the MOD Lydd Firing Range. The rat-a-tat of heavy machine gun fire and red flying flags confirmed my worst suspicions – the range was closed to walkers! I had checked the firing times for the range on the gov.uk website and could see the only firing was the day AFTER my walk. As I write this the website still says no firing on the 19th May. I walked to the control tower spoke to someone to query why the website was saying one thing. A chap said he would pass my complaint onto the office…. yea … yea. I had intended to walk along the coast towards Jurys Gap, but this now meant an additional 2 miles inland detour via Lydd. I followed the firing range boundary perimeter into and out of Lydd.
The road from Lydd out to Jury’s Gap also followed the Lydd Firing range, fortunately there was a good footpath set back from the road. Soon after leaving Lydd I heard my first Cuckoo of the year and spotted the little fella on a branch about 50 metres away. With the sea wall now in sight I passed from Kent into East Sussex. I had been walking in Kent since February last year, so it was good to see some progress. I eventually arrived at Jury’s Gap and climbed up onto the sea wall. The rain showers had begun to get increasingly more intense and as I walked through Camber I got a severe drenching. I headed along a footpath heading towards Rye, which ran alongside the golf course. I soon heard the unmistakable sound of thunder coming from a particularly dark patch of sky about a mile away. As I passed the club house I heard a siren go off which I presumed was a warning to the golfers out on the course. There was no shelter nearby so I waited a short while close to some shrubs. I caught sight of some lightening strikes about an half mile away. As I waited I was relieved to see that the thunderstorm was heading away from me and out to sea. I could still hear rumblings from other dark clouds some distance away. As I crossed over the River Rother into the ancient Cinque port of Rye the sun was well out and it became very warm. I climbed up into the town and through the old Landgate and down to the railway station.
It had been a tough days walk and much longer than I had originally intended. All that remained for me to do now was to drive down the road to Camber and check into my room for the night at Pontins Holiday camp! The chalet was quite cheap and had lots of space, although I stood out like a sore thumb from the young families who were enjoying their holiday.
PS. It has become a right pain in the back-side trying to use WordPress now. So many changes, I may think about changing even if it means paying!
Distance today = 23 miles
Total distance = 6,395 miles