Saturday March 27th 2010
We decided to head for the sea again on the first Saturday of the Easter holidays and thought it would be a good move to try a different route. So we set off from Ash Vale for Waterloo at 7.09 and found our way over to Waterloo East in time for the 8.18 train to Hastings, which would connect at Tonbridge for a train to Ashford. But as we left Sevenoaks, there was a somewhat disquieting announcement to the effect that there was smoke in Sevenoaks tunnel, we would go through slowly and not to be alarmed if we saw smoke in the train.
We arrived safely at Tonbridge, the next stop, where we got off, and immediately all the trains were flagged as delayed. The fire in the tunnel had become quite severe and the electricity had to be turned off to enable fire-fighters to go in. So we sat at Tonbridge watching the minutes tick by, knowing that our bus from Ashford was at 10.30, with the next one two hours later. Eventually a train did get through and we arrived at Ashford at 10.38. We raced through the subway in the hope that the bus might be late, but a kind lady at the bus stop confirmed that it had gone. There was only one thing to do; a taxi to Lydd-on-Sea and half an hour later and £40 poorer we climbed out of the taxi on the seafront. The one consolation was the delightful taxi driver who was very pleased to have an unexpected run to the sea.
The tide was out so we climbed down to the wet sand and began our day’s walk along the beach, which was lovely. There were very few people about and, although it was very cloudy, it was possible to see a long way.
We had planned to stop at the Londis shop at Greatstone to buy lunch so eventually had to go back to the road as it was impossible to see where we were from the beach. We came up at Romney Sands where I had stayed on holiday as a four year old. Then it was a holiday camp and now it is a caravan park just short distance from Greatstone. There we found loos, a newsagent with postcards and the Londis for sandwiches and drinks.
Leaving Greatstone, we walked along the back of the dunes on a path behind the houses on the coast road with views ahead and behind across the sea. Soon we arrived at Littlestone with its grand seafront houses, rain shelters and a bit more bustle. I think it would count as almost a resort.
From Littlestone we followed the concrete Dymchurch Wall, a sea defence which is obviously necessary but also a pleasant place to walk along the edge of the sea and away from the road. As the main road curved inland an old coast road behind the wall revealed a string of elegant buildings, presumably once large houses, but some now hotels, one or two boarded up and looking very sad. The most unusual one was an old water tower, now converted to a house with a room on the top which must command views for miles. Soon the houses gave way to a golf course and we decided to perch on the wall and eat lunch.
As we sat there the temperature dropped and the clouds became deeper and darker, with rain threatening to fall heavily. So we cut short our lunch break and set a brisk pace onwards to St Mary’s Bay where the main road met the shore again and there would be, if nothing else, bus shelters. The rain continued to threaten but did not actually fall as we continued our way along the concrete path. Here the wall on the land side was very high and we could see nothing inland, but a peep through a gap revealed our old friend, the A259 below, so we stayed on the path. Soon we could see diggers and workmen ahead and as we drew closer we realised they were working on further strengthening the sea defences.
At one point we had to leave the path and walk beside the road for a while. I was beginning to tire as the effects of my bump on the head a few days previously made themselves felt. My neck and shoulders were painful and so, for some reason, was my foot. We were approaching Dymchurch by this time so we decided we would stop there and take the opportunity to have a ride on the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway.
Dymchurch was busy, its narrow streets full of visitors so we didn’t linger but made our way to the railway station hidden in the back streets. We established that there was ample time to ride out to Dungeness and back to New Romney and visit the café before our planned bus back to Ashford from New Romney Railway station.
I elected to sit on the station while Jen went back into the village for a quick look round.
The ride to Dungeness was great fun as we could see all the places we passed on the previous two walks, including Lydd Church across the Marsh. When we arrived at Dungeness it was raining, so we stayed in the train to await the journey back to New Romney. Here we had a hot drink in the café and a good look round the railway shop, before making sure we were at the stop in good time for the bus. Back in Ashford we had a quick meal in Pizza Express again before catching the trains home, with no problems at all.
Running Total 213.1 miles