At the end, we walked up from the beach to the car. We had a cup of tea from the flask and drove back to the Youth Hostel in Dover.
We walked down Broadstairs High Street to the point where we finished the walk yesterday (buying pies from a butcher and cakes from a bakery on the way), and decided to walk across the beach to the northern harbour wall. The tide was out and the beach was ‘squeaky-clean’ – there were even tracks up and down the shore where the cleaning vehicles had been out early in the morning, even though it was a weekday in the off-season. The sand was a little soft so we left footprints in our wake – it was a bit like walking over new snow! From the end of the harbour we watched a few surfers in the water, but they weren’t getting very good waves. We could also see the paddling pool which had puzzled us yesterday. It is exposed at low tide, retaining some water so that children can remain near their parents when playing.
Now we were back, and looking for our first ride on a Ferris Wheel on this trek (rule no.11). Last year, when we were walking in the Dymchurch area, we had picked up a leaflet advertising ‘Dreamland’ in Margate and couldn’t find any reference to the Big Wheel; so we suspected it was no longer there. The rooms with the noisy slot machines was going full swing (costs a tad more than a penny these days!) and a few sad figures were working them – not quite Las Vegas. We went outside to find the big rides were not closed, but not exactly open either. There were notices telling us that if we really wanted a ride then we should speak to an attendant who would open it up for us – but there was no one there! It was all rather spooky, it reminded me of a ‘horror’ novel I read once where the murderer stashed the bodies away in a disused fairground. ‘Dreamland’ is quite a large area with lots of roller-coasters etc, but each year people want rides that are more and more ‘exciting’ (or sick-making, depending on which way you look at it), so old-fashioned things like the Ferris Wheel get replaced by bungy chairs and towers that take you up and down at the force of several G! We came across a couple of workmen who were tinkering with one of the rides, and asked them about the Big Wheel. They told us it had been sold to Mexico a couple of years ago!
(Score so far: ‘real ale’ pubs - 21 – Ferris wheels - 0 ) !!
We walked along the clifftop to Epple Bay where we descended to beach level again. Since people were coming towards us along the bottom of the cliff, we assumed we could get through to Birchington. The tide was almost in by now, and in one or two places we had to time our walk past an exposed point where we were at risk of getting wet. There were a number of passages going up into the cliffs. Most of them were blocked off, but we came across one where a narrow and steep flight of steps went up into the darkness. Of course, Colin had to go up. He disappeared, I waited, and then the sound of a barking dog came echoing down! I was having visions of him being torn to shreds by the Hound of the Baskervilles, but then he came nonchalantly down the steps once more. He said they led to a rather high-class housing estate, and the barking dog was safely fenced off in a garden. A few yards further on we reached the cutting up to Birchington and the road where we had parked our car earlier that day. Once again we found the toilets to be derelict and sealed, fortunately neither of us had need of them at that moment.
That ended Walk no.31, we shall pick up Walk no.32 next time at the point where the road from Birchington Station meets the seafront by the abandoned toilets. We walked up from the beach to the car. We had a cup of tea from the flask and then started to drive back to the Youth Hostel in Dover. We switched on the car radio and the news came on – we just could not believe what we were hearing. Four civilian domestic aeroplanes in the United States were hijacked earlier today and deliberately crashed! One was thought to be making for Camp David or the White House, but didn’t make it. One was crashed into the Pentagon, where over a hundred workers died. The other two were crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York – the two highest buildings in the world – and each exploded in a fireball. People were seen leaping from windows seventy or more stories up rather than be burnt to a frazzle. Suddenly, both buildings collapsed in on themselves killing over a hundred rescue workers. New York is a heap of rubble! Thousands are dead – it is impossible to estimate.
Has the world gone mad?