Day 004: Grain to Rochester
Distance: 18.75 miles
Ascent: 790 feet
Weather: showers morning, sunny afternoon
Accommodation: Wild camp rochester
There is no public access along the coast in front of the new power station or container terminal on Grain, so my day started walking on the only road out of Grain. After 2.5km of heavy industry and lorries whizzing by I very happily reached the turn of for my path.
I really enjoyed this path following the grassy sea defence embankments, with all the little lagoons, hulls of old wooden boats, birdlife and just general beauty/solitude. As forecast it started to rain about 10am, light at first but then heavy for about 20 minutes, which was not too bad and far better than the 2 to 3 hours of heavy rain that had been forecast. During this rain I passed Stoke Airfield, which was a glider club, but obviously no one going up with conditions like today.
After that there was another power station (Kingsnorth), so another short inland diversion. But by now the sun had come out and it was a glorious day, I even passed a field of artichokes and some even seemed to have artichokes already on them which seems strange at this time of year.
Just after rejoining the coast, I heard a ping but had no clue what it was. Eventually I found the source and my belt buckle had snapped. It’s not a big issue as the trousers are fairly tight without it, but will get decathlon to send me another one at my next base. I must be eating to much on this walk!
What happened next took me completely by surprise. A lady was walking the other way and as we approached each other we said hi, and she asked me where I was walking. I said I was walking around the whole coast, and she responded saying ‘Me to’. I knew my walk wasn’t unique (even though it is rare), and even did a pre-walk blog on previous coast walkers. But from my research I thought there were only 2 people doing something vaguely similar right now and both going clockwise so I wouldn’t see them. We had a little chat, she is called Jane Alllen, she started her walk in Portsmouth (so a few more weeks than me) and she is raising money for two naval charities. Her partner is driving around in a mobile caravan acting as a support team and meeting her at several points each day. 5 minutes later we were both on our way, not to see each other again for another 5 or 6 months, probably somewhere on the west coast of Scotland. It was really nice to see a fellow coast walker.
The next part of the walk was really nice, especially as I was still bathed in sunshine, along the pebbly foreshore of the Medway. Along this stretch I passed Cockham Wood Fort which is older (1669) than most of the forts I had passed before and was very picturesque as it has been slowly eroding away, keeping the brickwork a very bright orange, and topped by beautiful brickwork arches. And a short distance further along the foreshore were signs of more modern defences which hadn’t fared as well with a pillbox collapsed down onto the beach.
Just after this I saw a man on a mini digger seemingly just digging up the beach. I had to ask him what he was doing. It turned out his business' water supply goes under the beach and it had sprung a leak. Must have been a pain to find and fix.
I soon passed Upnor Castle which was built in the 1560’s, and is one of the only (if not the only) English forts to actually fire at an enemy in anger. And it was this fort that helped stop the Dutch naval raid in 1667, forcing them to withdraw after several days. This wasn’t before the Dutch had captured 2 warships, burned many others, and taken over another fort. The British Navy were so worried that more ships would be captured that they actually burned/sank around 30 of their own boats. Some historians describe this as Britain’s greatest naval defeat.
It wasn’t long until I was in Rochester and as the day had been shortened by a couple of miles due to yesterday’s extension, I decided to make hay whilst the sun shined and extend today by a couple of miles. For some of this extension the harbour path through Rochester was closed due to construction but this did not cause an issue as there were other alternatives. This means tomorrow I will have a short day as I have a fixed endpoint.
Well a good day all round!