Saturday August 30th 2014
Today was going to be part walk, part sightseeing. As always we had struggled with the idea of just walking through a historical and interesting area without visiting it properly, so we decided to walk across the Medway to Strood, which would give us a good start to the assault on the Hoo peninsula, then spend the day in Rochester. It also seemed a good way to finish a fantastic summer of walking.
Given that we were not walking far, we were able to leave home a little later and the 8 o’clock train from Aldershot was perfect, depositing us at Rochester via Clapham Junction and Victoria at ten past ten. At Victoria Station we encountered a real taste of old London. The Pearly King of Newham was catching our train and he was happy to pose for photos for a donation to charity, once he had checked his train times. It felt like a good omen for the day ahead.
As we left Rochester station I caught a glimpse of an open topped bus on the main road and tucked that knowledge away for later
The plan for today’s short walk had been to pick up Rochester High Street as far as the bridge over the Medway but I had spotted a riverside walk on the map and we went off to investigate. It turned out to be a new path beside which will be built houses, hotels, a school, a health centre and parks. At the moment it is just cleared land but if we were to come back in five years time, it will no doubt look very different.
In the river here is a strange craft, looking very much like a floating hotel or similar. We looked it up when we got home and it is actually an accommodation barge which is for sale. It arrived unexpectedly in the Medway in November 2013 and was expected to stay for four weeks. Still there after 9 months though; is this destined to be another slowly decaying wreck? Hopefully not as reports say that it is in much better condition inside than the outside would lead one to believe
One object which appears to be going to be preserved as part of the new development is a dockside crane, which is rather attractive in its own way.
We enjoyed the walk on this very easy path and came out just before Rochester Bridge.
The bridge itself is interesting as it is actually four bridges; two road, one rail and one carrying pipes and cables. The current bridge is just the latest in a series of crossings, the first being built by the Romans when they constructed Watling Street, now the A2. The first stone bridge was built in 1361 and the first iron structure in 1856. The current road bridges date from 1914 and 1970, the second being opened to allow better traffic flow with an extra two lanes. It was opened by Princess Margaret on 15th April 1970. A railway bridge was first built in 1858 and a second in 1898 two accommodate the lines of two different rail companies. By 1927 all the trains were using the newer bridge although the older one was not demolished until the new road bridge was opened in its place. The maintenance costs of the bridge are met by the Rochester Bridge Trust using income from land given the 14th century including some in London. The trust also funds local restoration projects.
We crossed the bridge slowly, reading all the plaques and information boards and descended on the western side. Here we turned sharp right, under the railway and into Strood.
Almost straight away a wide pedestrianised promenade appeared and we walked along it to finish the walk for the day opposite the road leading to Strood Railway Station, a convenient place to come back too next summer. In the water here is an old submarine which appears to be rusting away slowly in the same way as the old wooden boats we have seen all along this coast. Later research revealed it to be an ex- Russian Hunter Killer class craft nicknamed the Black Widow. It was decommissioned by the Russian Navy in 1994 after which it came to London and was used as a floating museum until 1998. Ten years in a similar role in Folkestone followed before it was moved to the Medway and it is now awaiting restoration. It will be good landmark for the start of next summer’s walking.
A very short walk today but it filled in a gap and gave us the chance to spend the rest of the day in Rochester, which we did.
Rochester Station 10.15 am 2685 steps 1.08m
Strood 11.05 am 7250 steps 2.9m
Walk time 50mins
Running Total 628.3 miles