Day 81: English Coastal Path


Friday 2nd September 2022

Today miles: 25.6 Total miles: 1327.7

I was more excited about today than usual. I’ve had an active interested in World War Two history, particularly the Battle of Britain since I did a project on that subject at school when I was aged about 13. I’m also a huge fan of military aircraft, both past, present and future. I was walking past the Battle of Britain Memorial this morning and this was going to be both an exciting and an emotional side trip for me. I had wanted to lay some flowers at the foot of the memorial but last night I was unable find a shop in Dover which sold fresh flowers. I arrived at the memorial site after about forty minutes of walking and was pleased but not surprised that the site was completely deserted at 7 in the morning. I wandered around the site for a while, reading some of the hundreds of names on the wall of remembrance. I recognised several names of ‘The Few’ and I then stood silently before them and thanked them for their sacrifice. This for me would remain a highlight of this trip for some considerable time.

Shortly after leaving the BOB site I descended the cliff and walked into Folkestone, spotting my first Martello Tower since crossing the River Thames. The next three mile walk along the promenade through Folkestone and then Hythe was uneventful and I’ve lots of early morning dog walkers and joggers for company. Shortly after passing the Hythe Martello tower I diverted slightly inland to avoid the Hythe firing ranges, which were flying red flags. I was able to pick up some food from the Lidl store along the A259 for breakfast and also dinner for later today. After arriving back on the coast path I had another short break before continuing. The next eight miles towards Dungeness was a combination of road, promenade and beach walking. Large stretches of the beach were sand rather then the most usual South East shingle, this for me made the walking more enjoyable. The houses around here, looking out across towards the coast were a strange mix of either large expensive looking buildings intermingled between smaller, shabby looking and far less attractive wooden shed type dwellings. On arrival in Dungeness I dropped into ‘The Pilot’ public house, which was very busy. I noticed that I had developed a painful blister on the pad of my left foot and it had really started to bother me. Recently I seem to be getting a blister in this same location each time I hike any substantial miles. The ‘Pilot’ pub and Dungeness village has an interesting history and I spent some time walking around the pub reading some of there posters and checking out the various memorabilia.

I wasn’t sure where I was going to pitch tonight, I hadn’t seen any suitable spots for a while on the shingle. Everywhere is covered by this shingle and this appears to stretch several hundred metres inland. I also don’t want to pitch anywhere near to the Dungeness nuclear power station either. After leaving the ‘Pilot’ there’s a mile of good road walking towards the Dungeness Lighthouse. I then had no option but to walk along the shingle beach past the power station, as you would expect there’s plenty of CCTV camera’s and warning signs along the perimeter fence. Just beyond the power station is Lydd military ranges and approximately 5 miles of shingle. I’ve got a decision to make when I get there. Just prior to the edge of the range I encountered a small building site near Pen Bars. I was walking along the public footpath adjacent to the security fence and got a huge surprise when a robotic voice emanating from a security device shouted at me to move away and warned me that I was being recorded on CCTV. What the hell?

On reaching the edge of Lydd military range I looked out across the coastline and saw that the shingle beach stretched out forever and there’s absolutely zero chance of being able to pitch a tent on those pebbles. I decided to walk inland along the official ECP and then after a mile I chanced upon the Dungeness Nature Reserve. I found a partially sheltered piece of flat grass near a large pond, it’s just about perfect for tonight’s tent site. I’ve got ducks, swans and other water birds for company, hopefully they’ll quieten down after sunset.

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