Having been given a room at the very top of the B&B I had half expected to be woken in the night by the wind, and perhaps have made it to France. The weather forecast on the morning news did not provide much to look forward to, much of the country seemed to have been hit with severe weather, roads were closed, trees were down, electricity supplies had failed.
As I walked back towards the shore it was breezy but while it had been raining there were only a few spots of rain in the air. I soon found that I was being sheltered from most of the bad weather by the town, walking along the beach I soon found I was walking into gale force winds and driving rain. The sky was almost black and the sea was churning violently.
The rain had swept through overnight, leaving an overcast sky and chill wind. Thankfully I was walking towards a large patch of blue sky on the horizon and by the time I had walked a few miles to Birchington the sun was fully out.
It was an early start again today but at least it was light – I could easily see the path out of Worth – and I headed back towards Sandwich. I wished I could have stayed in Sandwich for a little while but I had quite a trek to make it to Margate and I was moving quite slowly after yesterday’s exertion.
Leaving Sandwich I was on the long slog through the Pfizer industrial complex and along the main road to many miles. It was hardly inspiring and I was wishing that I had caught the train to Ramsgate instead. Though after I had passed the old power station at Richborough I was able to get off the path along the main road and meander instead through Pegwell Bay Country Park.
I also passed the replica Viking ship ‘Hugin’ which sailed from Denmark to Thanet in 1949 to celebrate the 1500th anniversary of the invasion of Britain. Pegwell Bay is marked on the OS map as the ‘Traditional site of the Landing of the Saxons 449 & St Augustine 597’.
The views of the Castle offered a good distraction to the poor walking through scrub woodland and wasteland. One highlight was coming across the memorial to Louis Bleriot’s record breaking first flight across the Channel in 1909. The silhouette of the plane was marked out on the ground but it seemed fairly lost, hidden deep within dark scruffy woodland, and I did not stay long.
After a few more twists and turns, humps and hollows, I was up on the cliff tops above the Eastern Docks. I could have stayed here for hours gazing out to sea and watching the comings and goings in the harbour – the movement of ships, lorries and cars looked almost balletic. However the White Cliffs beckoned.
The weather was even better today, and after an early start I headed off along the sea wall path. The tide was out and in the far distance it looked like a large digger and lorry were making massive sandcastles.
As I got closer to the workings it became apparent they had closed the beach to work on the sea defences and I had to take to the pavement along the road that ran parallel to the shore. More bad news was to follow, as the sound of the beach workings diminished I could hear a battle â€“ well gunshots â€“ and spotted the red flags were flying over the Hythe Ranges. It was time for plan B and I headed inland towards the Royal Military Canal.
Mid morning and the streets of Rye seemed to be lined with tea and cake shops, the trouble was I only had a few minutes to get a map and head off to Jury’s Gap…
The thoughts of cake lingered but I was quickly brought back to reality with a jolt as I walked around the signs and buildings of the Lydd Army Ranges â€“ there were no red flags so I trusted that the ranges were at peace with themselves and I pressed on passing the hulks of rusting tanks and other assorted vehicles.
It is day 3 and the weather had changed, the forest was shrouded in fog and there were patches of steady drizzle in the air. I headed off at pace to find some shelter within the light woodland in this part of Ashdown Forest.