Day 005: Rochester to Lower Halstow

Distance: 12.16 miles

Ascent: 458 feet

Weather: mainly Sunny but cold

Accommodation: green farmhouse, lower halstow (Kindly complimentary)


I was off early this morning not long after 7 whilst it was still dark. This was mainly because I did not have the best pitch location and it was a bit public so thought best just to get up and go.

The first part of the walk was just trying to get out of the Rochester/Gillingham area, and unfortunately this involved following a busy main road for 2km. But at the Strand Leisure Park, I was able to rejoin the coast and the Saxon Shore Way again. This was a promenade to start with before coming more of a dirt track

I soon reached Horrid Hill, a little outcrop from the mainland, and I did a loop of it. It is a strange name as it is neither horrid or at only 8m above sea a hill. As for the origin of the name I do not know if this is true but apparently in the distant past prisoners were kept in giant hulks on the Medway in terrible conditions, if they tried but failed to escape they were bought to this ‘hill’ and hanged, to set an example to the other prisoners.

The Saxon Shore way then goes partially up the next two peninsulas, the ends of which are private and so inaccessible to walkers. On the second peninsula I went through Upchurch, a lovely little village with a really interesting church. It had a bizarre shaped turret, consisting of an octagonal pyramid sort of balanced on top of a square pyramid (see photo below as it is hard to describe.) Inside the church the organist was practicing and she told me it was called a ‘candle snuffer’ steeple. She was unsure what the reason for it was, but believed that it was so the church looked different and could be used as a navigational aid from the Medway (even google is unsure and gives the same possible reason.)

The final part of the day heading to Lower Halstow on the earth sea bank defences was lovely, at one point it started to get a bit muddy, but for a significant distance wood chippings had been used to make the path more firm and it had worked. They must have literally used tonnes and tonnes of wood chippings but I reckon, though only a couple of km stretch, it would probably have taken at least 20 minutes longer if it was really muddy as per some of the other banks. Also on this part I saw a rustic wedding venue which I am sure would be lovely in Summer but at this time of year just looked so forlorn.

Lower Halstow itself has a nice church, nice looking pub (The Three Tuns) and lovely old barge (The Edith May) in its little dock.

I am very lucky this evening as Chris and Carol the owners of the Green Farmhouse in Lower Halstow have given me a complimentary room for the night. It is a lovely old building, beautifully and sympathetically restored in the last couple of years. My room is absolutely great, with lots of lovely charming details, and having a bath was really nice but has made writing this hard as I have gone really sleepy. (I am not just saying the above because they gave me a free room, it is genuinely really nice.)

A short, sharp day, which had originally been planned as a 16 mile route but due to extension yesterday was only 12 miles. There were no issues and as the day was short I have caught up on some admin issues this afternoon.

charles compton