D75: UPCHURCH to SITTINGBOURNE
Thursday 19th May 2022
Today miles: 13.6 Total miles: 1215.1
Last night didn’t go well. Although I’m a fair distance from any houses I could still hear several dogs barking. I thought initially they could somehow sense me out in the field but after a couple of hours of barking I heard for myself what was unsettling them. Initially it was just a light rumble but then it got steadily louder and then the lightening and the heavy rain started in earnest. I’ve never, ever been that scared before in a tent. The lightening seemed to be so very close. Not sure I actually got any sleep and I’m out of my tent a few minutes after 4. On a positive note I’ve now left myself more than 7 hours to walk less then fourteen miles to Sittingbourne. Between the rain storms I did manage to boil some water for breakfast.
The first section between Upchurch and Lower Halstow along the Saxon Shore Way was fairly difficult. The footpath is very narrow and made a lot worse by the wet grass and the wet low hanging branches. I was wearing all my wet weather gear but I still got a soaking.
On reaching Lower Halstow I decided I’d had enough of the narrow Saxon Shore Way and instead walked along a minor road, which was actually a little nearer to the coastline. For a minor road (with passing places) at 6am in the morning it was fairly busy. On reaching Raspberry Hill I turned left off the road and trekked the two and a half miles around Chetney Marshes. I’m honestly struggling to think of anything positive about this section. It’s maybe the effect of the miserable weather but there was no joy to be had during the next ninety minutes. I was so, so pleased to finally reached the road again, which is close to the Kingsferry Bridge. During the early planning for the next section the route planner on my Outdooractive mapping app wouldn’t go along the Saxon Shore Way beyond the Ridham Dock power station. This made me think that the footpath may be closed around that area. I wouldn’t usually prefer a road over a footpath but today I decided to walk down the tarmac strip, towards Iwade.
There’s a church on the Northern edge of Iwade and it’s doors are unlocked. It was a nice dry place to gain sanctuary from the rain, at least for a short while.
When I left Iwade an hour later the rain had eased off a little. I persisted with the road walking towards Kemsley and was finally able to rejoin the Saxon Shore Way at the Milton Creek Country Park. I was only about two miles from Sittingbourne and had more then 4 hours before my train was due. After walking along the edge of Milton Creek I arrived in Sittingbourne and wasn’t sure what I was going to do next. Once again I’m fortunate and find that there’s a McDonalds only a few minutes from the train station. I’d only eaten a small bowl of porridge all day so I didn’t feel guilty when I ordered myself two breakfast meals. I found a corner where I could spread out all my wet gear and with all my food I made myself at home for the next two hours. I needed to jump on board two trains to get me back to Alnwick and I was worried about me stinking up the carriage and upsetting my fellow passengers. I’ve not had a shower for three days and everything I’m wearing is still damp. I eventually arrived back in Alnwick around 5pm and Gemma in her none subtle way confirmed that I do indeed stink.
In summary: Benfleet to Sittingbourne. 125.6 miles over 6 days. That’s a good daily average of 20.9 miles. My next trip is in June, less than four weeks away. This time I’ll be in company with Gemma and Alfie.