We woke to blue skies – so reassuring, but then heard that rain was on its way for the afternoon, so we wanted to make an early start. Rev’d Roger (on his day off) offered to give us Communion in his church next door – a very good start to the day. A quick bowl of porridge set us up for the day and we managed to start at 8.15am. But why, oh why do we seem to have an uphill stretch right at the start of the day? A good warming process, but a bit of a challenge!
We had some lovely fields to traverse before the concrete, harshness and noise of the Medway bridges. There are 3, one for the trains (including the international ones) & 2 for road traffic.
There were lovely views up the river to Rochester Castle and Cathedral. We took the river path as a detour up to the Cathedral and I learnt something new-Borstal is a real place where borstals began.
We were warmly welcomed by all the staff at the Cathedral and Rev’d Jean Kerr, Canon Missioner prayed with us at the High Altar. What a jewel of a place, light and airy, restful and quiet. We felt properly welcomed and sent on our way by the scallop shells engraved on their glass doors.
However, Jonathan’s report on the traffic system of Rochester can be distilled down to: ‘a farago’!
As we passed the boundary of the Castle we noticed this plaque and thought we need the blog followers to help us out. So, first quiz question of the day: What is/was a Pie Powder Court?
For the first time we had to retrace our steps (boring) back to the bridges. Then on and up onto the scarp face again, but this time we had a gentle climb. We met 3 riders who needed a bit of assistance, which was easily given and they gladly posed for us.
Rhona was so excited to be up close to an oast house, it really feels that we are in the heart of Kent and hop country now.
The weather today was actually rather nice with a thunderstorm just ahead of us at one point and only 2 light showers. Fair bit of mud though on the lovely long tracks on the ridges.
At the top of Blue Bell Hill we were accosted by a lovely researcher, Emily Howard asking about our attitude to the local country park. Our answers didn’t really fit with the ones offered – how far did you travel to get here today? ‘120 miles’ wasn’t what she was expecting!
We found 2 neolithic ‘structures’ today: Kit’s Coty House and the White Horse Stone.
There aren’t too many of the large North Downs Way milestones along the way, but today’s one cheered us when we saw that it isn’t far to Canterbury now.
As we get closer we find more references to Thomas Beckett and pilgrims. In Detling we saw this Tudor gateway and the round information sign.
We carried on into Thurnham for the end of the walk – another climb up to the top of the scarp, where we found lots of Wayfarer’s Trees. It is a type of Viburnum which has black and red berries.
However, we don’t know what these orange-berried plants are. So, Dear Readers, here is quiz question number 2: what is the plant pictured below?
But what lovely fungi we also saw:
Tonight we are laying our heads down in a church for the first time – St Martin of Tours. It is an archetypal beautiful little country church with the most wonderful churchwarden – June Eckton and her husband, John who were there to welcome us. Tea and biscuits felt like champagne and cake!
As I write this, Rhona is making a nest in the box pews with kneelers for each of us to sleep on. Looks like this could be a very comfy bed.
Our last full day of walking is tomorrow – off to Boughton Lees. Then Canterbury on Weds! As the frequent refrain goes – ‘Nearly there. Not far now.’
Love the Pilgrims