Day 009: Oare to Herne Bay
Distance: 20.58 miles
Ascent: 743 feet
Accommodation: Wild camp Herne Bay
Well I was up fairly early, having slept well in the beer garden. It had rained in the night so the tent outer was wet. I therefore packed the inner in the main rucksack and put the outer in the tent bag and strapped it on the outside. I will develop a way to hang the outer onto the backpack so that it dries better on sunny days like today.
The first part of the days walk was a slightly annoying, though beautiful, 3.5 mile loop around Ham Marshes. Right at the beginning of this loop there was a sign next to the footpath gate saying ‘Bull in Field’. I was a bit perplexed by this, as this was a public footpath, and therefore has to be accessible. I decided to continue anyway, and in fact did not see any bull or cows at all. The cynical side of me thinks the farmer just put the sign up to reduce how many people crossed his land.
At the end of the loop I came to Faversham, it had a great selection of beautiful historic buildings and appeared a nice town. I was wondering why almost every pub was a Sheperd Neame pub, and should really have guessed the reason, but it became very clear when I passed the brewery. In fact the oldest brewery in the country, having been at this location since 1698. I grabbed breakfast and supplies in Tesco before starting to head out of Faversham. Just before leaving Faversham there was a beautiful collection of old/quay buildings (Standard Quay) that had been turned into little craft shops, cafes etc. and the effect was really nice. I hate shopping, but would have liked a little more time here.
Then it was back up Faversham Creek and following the seawall to Seasalter. The beach huts here were not attractive in my opinion, they all had different shapes, designs and various stages of degradation. They actually made this part of the coast seem quite unappealing to me. This was also the case in Herne Bay, where at times the beach huts were four deep.
A short distance later I came to Whitstable. I have never been before and I really liked it. Most of the old buildings had been sympathetically restored, and were back in use as cafes, houses, holiday lets. You could see some of the oyster fields not far from the shore, and there were several places serving them right on the beach (unfortunately I don’t like them.) There was also enough of the traditional seaside crafts still being carried out, including a small fishing fleet. Essentially someone has got it right in turns of planning, regeneration etc. of Whitstable.
Unfortunately, only 1km later you come to Herne Bay, and the same can not be said. I felt the whole place seemed completely run down. Most of the coastal building were in a bad state of repair. The pier if you could call it that was tacky (and not in the good coastal tacky way) and looked like some garden sheds wedged one beside the other. The benches, bins everything just seemed run down. I have a feeling I will pass a lot of coastal towns like this
Whilst in Herne Bay, I had been intrigued by a platform a long way out to sea which appeared to have a fairly ornate building on it. It was only this evening that I found out that was the original end of the pier, so once upon a time it must have been a very impressive structure, 10 or 20 times as long as it is now.
From Herne Bay, I headed up onto the cliffs, found a nice place to pitch, and was treated to a lovely sunset.
A day of wall to wall sunshine, almost no wind and clear paths, made for a nice day. My right ankle/heel area is still a little painful but no worse, maybe slightly better than yesterday. So I will just be careful with it.
Plus I have definitely now made it to the coast proper!