Saturday August 8th 2009
After much investigation and thought, we decided that we would go back to Kent again and walk without staying the night. It would mean a very long day but financially would be much better.
So we were at North Camp in good time for the 6.57 train again, getting off this time at Redhill. A long stop there gave us time for breakfast before the next leg to Tonbridge and shorter wait for the final train to Ashford. At Ashford station we had half an hour to wait for the bus to Lydd, but it arrived on time and we enjoyed the jaunt through Kent and onto Romney Marsh. We finally set off from Lydd Church at 11.15 after reluctantly refusing the offer of a kind man to unlock the church for us to visit. We simply didn’t have the time, but maybe will make it back one day.
On the other side of Lydd churchyard we found a quiet road which came out on a roundabout and the road to Dungeness. Our way led along this road for about a mile, dodging a fair bit of traffic but never feeling too much under threat. At Boulderwall Farm, a path led off across the marshes to Dungeness thus taking us off road at last.
We stopped here for a drink and a chuckle at a swan which landed in the road and refused to move, even when drivers tooted their horns. Finally it flew away and we set off too, initially on firm ground, but all too soon onto shingle. We coped quite well as far as a pair of gravel pits and then across the causeway between them.
After that we went through a gate into the nature reserve to discover no path, just a series of posts with arrow markers and unending shingle. We had no choice but to plod onwards following the arrows, thankfully with the lighthouse ahead slowly getting bigger. We stopped frequently as the stones were so tiring to walk on.
Eventually though we could see a gate opening onto a road and the coastguard cottages just ahead, one of them with washing flapping in the breeze. Across the road and through another gate, the ground became firmer and pleasanter. Soon we were on a proper road and approaching the lighthouse.
We decided to find some lunch in the café beside the little station for the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch railway. We did eat but it was disappointing. They could not provide hot food as they were expecting a party on the next train and the sandwiches were far from first class. We escaped to visit the lighthouse, first enjoying a refreshing ice-cream outside and watching other people climb up and emerge onto the balcony. Then it was our turn.
We took it slowly looking at the exhibitions on each floor which were fascinating. The last section was a vertical staircase with ropes to hold onto, tricky in walking boots. At the top there was a hatch to climb out onto the balcony. I went out, looked down and came straight back in again but Jen stayed out taking photos and enjoying the view back towards Lydd and onwards to Folkestone and the white cliffs of Dover. I also looked after a little boy of about six who had also climbed out and straight back in again. His grandad had his hands full with a small brother who was dancing around the balcony so I engaged the older one in conversation showing him the route we had walked and watching a train approach across the marsh.
Having helped Grandad take the children down the ladder again, we left the lighthouse somewhat reluctantly and walked on. Our direction had completely changed at Dungeness Point and we were facing north as we walked along a concrete block road surrounded by wooden shacks, all very haphazardly sited with no fences to show the boundaries. Between the road and the sea were all sorts of containers for fishing gear belonging to the locals. It is not a pretty place, but fascinating.
At the end of the road we crossed the railway line into a proper village with a road and a pub. We stopped for a drink at The Pilot Inn. From here on we knew we were on the bus route and could end the walk whenever we were ready.
After a rest at the Pilot we picked up the coast road at Lydd-on-Sea, a road which continues for many miles all the way to Hythe. The houses on one side look like any suburban road but on the other is shingle and below that the sea.
The shingle walking earlier had been very tough on our leg muscles and when we reached a small car park a mile or so further on, decided to stop. It was four o’clock and we had to catch the bus at five so an hour relaxing on the beach beckoned. We had hoped for a paddle but the sea was a long way away across mud and stones so that idea was abandoned in favour of just sitting.
Finally we caught the bus back to Ashford where we found a Pizza Express for an evening meal before catching the train back to Tonbridge then Redhill and home. We rolled into North Camp just before ten. A very long day but worth it.
Running Total 205.8 miles