Thursday, July 26, 2001

Walk 26 -- Deal Pier to Sandwich Bay

Ages: Colin was 59 years and 79 days. Rosemary was 56 years and 221 days.
Weather: Too b***** hot again!
Location: Deal Pier to the Royal St George’s Golf Links at Sandwich.
Distance: 4 miles.
Total distance: 156½ miles.
Terrain: Concrete and tarmacked esplanade, then a shingle track which was very firmly packed, finally a smart tarmacked road.
Tide: In.
Rivers to cross: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: No.24 at the Sandwich Estate.
Pubs: ‘The Alma’ in Deal where we enjoyed Whistling Will, and Marie Celeste which was delicious!
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We packed up our camp in Walmer and drove to Sandwich where we found a shady parking spot near the station. We caught a train to Deal, visited the ‘real ale’ pub, then walked to the pier.
At the end, we walked across the golf links into Sandwich, had two very welcome cups of tea from our flasks in the car, then drove back home to Bognor.

Colin had done his research a little better today, and when we got off the train in Deal he led us directly to the pub he was trying to find yesterday. The beer was much better there, especially the one called ‘Marie Celeste’ which we awarded top marks! So we started today’s walk in a better mood altogether despite the intense heat. It is the hottest day yet with temperatures up to 30°C!
We sat in a seafront shelter in the shade to eat our lunch which we had bought in the town, then we continued northwards from the pier. After about a mile, the houses ran out and so did the prom. This was the site of the third of Henry VIII’s castles, Sandown Castle.
Unfortunately, this one was allowed to fall into ruin long before the days when anyone thought it important to preserve such things, so there is hardly anything left of it. Apparently, it was the same size and shape as Walmer Castle, but in the 1920s the few remains were encased in concrete as part of the sea defences there. All you can see is a sort of circular shape with a few steps leading up to it at the end of the esplanade.
Continuing north we had a choice, either to walk on the top of the shingle bank with a slight breeze from the sea or walk down behind the bank on nice smooth grass with no breeze and the baking sun pouring down. On such a hot day there was no contest—the breeze, such as it was, won! It turned out that the shingle was packed down hard on the top, so it wasn’t too bad and it improved as we walked on. We saw loads of butterflies again, and plovers and gulls on the beach. Colin even got his camera out at one point, but that was the signal for them all to fly away! We walked along next to a golf course, and there were lots of people playing despite the heat—well, I suppose we were out walking despite the heat! (You know what they say about mad dogs and Englishmen…!)
We reached a group of houses called ‘The Sandwich Bay Estate’ although there is no bay there, just a continuing straight coastline. They were sumptuous buildings indeed! They looked far too big and orderly to be private residences, and we opined that they may be part of a nursing home or a very exclusive club. With their manicured lawns and regulated curtains, it all looked too institutionalised to me. Further on there was a huge beamed cottage which was for sale, so perhaps they are private but with all sorts of restrictions which would drive me mad! Anyway, we were pleased to walk on their nice smooth road past them.
We stayed on the road to partially pass another golf course, this is obviously a very exclusive area. Lots of people had driven down there and were enjoying the beach. We made use of the public toilets, and then struck off across the golf course to Sandwich.

That ended Walk no.26, we shall pick up Walk no.27 next time at the southerly set of public toilets on the shore side of Royal St George’s Golf Links. We walked back across the golf course (there is a public footpath clearly marked, but look out for stray golf balls!) to our car which was parked in the shade (thankfully) in Sandwich. There we treated ourselves to a couple of hot cups of tea—still the most refreshing drink even in those temperatures. Then we drove home to Bognor, a deadly journey along motorways.