Thursday 17 July
Needless to say the previous night was a quiet one, although I hardly slept. We had a 20 + miler planned for this day ( in order to stay on schedule after the extra mile fairy had visited on Monday ), so we rose at 5 am in order to set off at 7. We left on schedule with spirits high. Again, the sky was blue and bright indicating that another scorcher was due.
We had arranged to stay at Buckmore Park Scout Camp site this coming night and were being met on site at 6.30 pm by our contact.
We were travelling through the North Downs in Kent.. The countryside was becoming decidedly rolling - unlike me - I was walking more than rolling this day. Conclusion was that there are a lot of ups in the Downs.
We had regular meeting points throughout the day, and I had a 2 hour long stint in a pub where I had a much looked-forward-to Earl Grey tea and charged equipment too - I will have cost the pub money on this visit.
As we approached Rochester we were apprehensive about how to cross the Medway River. There was an enormous and very busy bridge spanning it but it was unclear until we were very close whether pedestrians could cross it or if we would indeed need to go all the way into Rochester and then come out due South to our Scout campsite destination - 2 sides of a triangle etc. A very enthusiastic local impressed to us that it was impossible to cross the bridge on feet / bike and that we would have to make the very long detour. In fact, as we slowly and very carefully approached the brow of the very busy hill leading to the bridge we could see what was indeed a footpath ( which was actually on the map ) that we could use. Big ‘ whews’ were uttered.
With the bridge and many lanes of noisy traffic behind us, we parted company again to continue our separate routes. We both walked alongside or over the Eurostar train tracks, and both saw Eurostar trains speeding past - very noisy, very very fast and very impressive to see.
We were on schedule re miles and time of day. After one particular long, hard and very hot trek through a forest we came to a Hansel & Gretal style pub. This was the most welcome public house that I have ever come across, and I had the biggest pack of ready salted crisps that I have ever had - very important to replenish salt lost through physical effort in hot weather you know.
We arrived at Buckmore Park on time after approx 11.50 hours of walking / cycling, and were welcomed as promised. The campsite was being used that evening by various local Cub and Scout groups having end of term events like BBQs and massive water fights, i.e. these were not the usual evening meets. There was also a group of wee folk called the ‘ Challenger Troop’. These were 7 - 10 year olds who wore army gear including boots and had camouflage design rucksacks to match. They were shooting targets on a mini range too using .22 pellets and bow and arrows on another. Out pitch was directly in their firing line albeit with a small copse in between. We were advised when this activity was about to start so that we didn't wander into their ‘ play area’.
After an evening of watching the campsite activities and chatting to interested Scout leaders, we slept like babies after our mammoth day.
|Pretty river at 'wild' riverside camp|
|Really necessary ?|
|Because we deserve it !|
Distance - 21 miles
Distance since Helmsley - 445.75 miles