D76: SITTINGBOURNE to FAVERSHAM
Sunday 12th June 2022
Today miles: 16.2 Total miles: 1231.3
After a long but happily uneventful drive down to Kent Gemma dropped me and Alfie off at Sittingbourne train station around 2.30pm. As we then began to make our way towards the coast Gemma’s heading straight to the hotel to order herself a deserved large glass of red. She’s planning on heading into Faversham around 9pm where we’ll all meet up again for something to eat. The walk started well but frustratingly, with Alfie needing to stop every 10 metres to have a sniff and a pee at every single lamppost or bus stop. After initially working our way through the Murston Industrial Estate we came to the edge of Milton Creek and the views opened up across Little Murston nature reserve and then further out towards Steppey Island. During my planning for this trip I had read other English Coastal Path walking blogs and some of those had included Steppey Island. The Island isn’t tidal and therefore it was quickly ruled out of my itinerary. The next few days of walking, I’ll be following the Saxon Shore Way which ends at Hastings. Although I won’t be following the SSW religiously, I will be following it in large sections when it’s closer to the coastline. We took a short but deserved break at a small birdwatchers hide on the edge of Conyer Creek before pushing on towards the marina and then into Conyer. There’s some old, pretty houses in Conyer but not much else, so we didn’t linger too long. After Conyer we moved on swiftly, leaving the Saxon Shore Way temporarily and sticking close to the coast.
The next three miles was a fairly gentle stroll along the Southern edge of The Swale and we arrived at the banks of Oare Creek around 6pm, still plenty of time to reach Faversham. Alfie was toiling in the heat so I made sure that we stopped often and he got plenty of opportunities to have a drink of cold water. I’ve walked along mile after mile of grassy sea walls, particularly over the last couple of years but I honestly think that this was some of the prettiest that I’ve experienced. I was loving the scenery in front of me. After crossing Oare Creek I arrived on the Western edge of Faversham with only the two and a half miles around Ham Marshes to go. I contacted Gemma and told her I’d be in Faversham in an hour.
So far, it had been a relatively uneventful day of walking and I’d have preferred it too have stayed that way. We walked the first two miles and I then caught sight of several cows scattered across the marsh, close to Ham Farm. As we approached I could see that the beasts were moving slowly towards the path and there’s maybe thirty or more, including several calves. This increased my anxiety levels. I’ve had literally hundreds of encounters with cows/calves over the last twenty years and I know the danger is very much increased when it involves calves and even more with me having a dog. As I got closer I could see that I was probably going to be walking between calves and their potential mothers, some of the animals even began to move towards me at increasing speed. I picked up my own pace and managed to jog through the herd, with an occasional loud yell and some frantic waving of my arms. The second issue a short time later was far less dramatic and it simply meant diverting away from the official path due to erosion, adding an insignificant three hundred metres to my day.
Back on the path I noted several beautiful looking houses overlooking Faversham Creek where some pretty and some not so pretty boats were moored in the mud. I met Gemma a few minutes later and when she asked how my day had been I deliberately neglected to mention anything about cows, knowing full well how she feels about those particular animals. After wandering into Faversham I was disappointed to discover that we can’t take Alfie into Wetherspoons. Apparently the exclusion of dogs is a company wide rule and it even includes all the outside areas. I ended up with fish and chips and a deserved cold beer back at our Hotel, it’s called Judds Folly and is just a mile and a half outside of Faversham.