Friday, October 12, 2001

Walk 35 -- Faversham to Oare

Ages: Colin was 59 years and 157 days. Rosemary was 56 years and 299 days.
Weather: Sunny and really warm – it was like summer again!
Location: Faversham to Oare.
Distance: 3½ miles.
Total distance: 212 miles.
Terrain: All grass river banks – we didn’t get near the sea!
Tide: Out.
Rivers to cross: No.10, Oare Creek.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: We were turned away from the ‘Shipwright’s Arms’ at Hollowshore where they refused to serve us! We eventually found the ‘Elephant’ in Faversham, but they were out of mild and only had ‘Tetley Bitter’ and ‘Marston’s Pedigree’ which wasn’t very exciting. I had a shandy again.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We drove from the Youth Hostel in Broadstairs to Faversham where we parked the car in the same street as yesterday because it seemed as good a place as any. We walked through the town centre to the bridge over Faversham Creek.
At the end, we walked the mile back to Faversham where we sought out the ‘Elephant’ pub. We were hot, tired, angry and very thirsty after having been refused a drink at the pub half way round the walk. Feeling better after a rest and a drink, we visited the church. Then we returned to the car where we dived into tea and cakes! After that, we drove home to Bognor, making very good time and we arrived just before it got dark.

We had a look round Faversham before we started our walk today. There was a market in full swing in the pedestrianised centre of the town, underneath and around the pillared Guildhall which dates from the 16th century. The parish church is large, and is topped by a distinctive spire with flying buttresses. The continuation of the creek through the town has been turned into a pleasant park, and marks the spot where a gunpowder factory used to be. Faversham provided gunpowder from the time of the Armada to the First World War; in fact at the beginning of the 20th century the town was of enormous importance, being the nation’s main source of explosives. By the creek stands a 400 year old building called TS Hazard – it was a warehouse, named after the ship which Faversham supplied to fight the Spanish Armada, and is now used by the sea cadets.
We crossed the bridge and started walking down the other side of Faversham Creek which was quite an important little harbour in past centuries. Now only pleasure craft use it. We trudged round an industrial complex, then we walked the same meander of the river that we had followed yesterday but in the opposite direction. However, today was very different! We were rested after our night’s sleep, we were on the inside of the bend so the distance was less, and the day was sunny and warm.
Perhaps it was the pleasant weather which brought the birds out, because there seemed to be a lot more to look at than yesterday; and I had remembered to bring my little telescope so I could actually see them. Our best sighting was of a heron which caught a fish, tossed it up in the air several times to turn it round, then swallowed it. It was pure magic to watch this in the hot sunshine!We had bought pasties in the town, and I suggested we ate them before we got to the pub so we could wash them down with real ale. We sat on the bank with our backs to the sun (because it was too bright for comfort being fairly low in the sky at this time of year) and discussed the beauty of today’s walk which is almost circular with the pub in the middle. Colin had looked it all up in his ‘Good Beer Guide’; it sold the beers he likes, it opens at lunchtimes on weekdays, and it nestles in the fork of the two creeks slap-bang in the middle of today’s walk.
So we arrived, hot and thirsty. The doors were open, but as we tried to enter the landlady rushed towards us shouting, “We’re closed! We’re closed!” Before we had time to say anything, the landlord came up and quite aggressively yelled, “She told you we’re closed! We’ve got the painters in! We put a notice at the end of the drive!” We tried to explain that we had approached along the river bank, and that we wouldn’t mind at all sipping our drinks outside on such a lovely day, but they didn't even attempt to listen and the door was shut firmly in our faces with the words, “We’re open this evening!” They were so RUDE! I opened the door again and asked, “Can I at least use the toilet?” (I was quite ‘desperate’ by then, and there were no bushes on the open river bank.) “There’s one out there!” was the shouted reply, so I used it and we left, very upset. I mean, are these people trying to run a business or are they not? They certainly won’t get our custom again, we were furious! I suggested Colin put in a strong complaint to CAMRA, because it is one of their recommended pubs.
We stomped off down the path towards Oare. The way became quite narrow with brambles pulling at our clothes, and a hedge had been grubbed up in an effort to widen it. I caught my foot on a root which was stuck up about six inches out of the ground. There was nothing to grab hold of so I tried to bring my other foot forward – but not quick enough and I crashed down full length on the ground! Colin’s face was a picture – I could almost see his thoughts – ‘She’s gone and broken her leg again! Hospitals! Operations! Plaster! Crutches!’ But no, fortunately I was only winded and lay there on the ground saying, “It’s all right, I haven’t broken anything! Just give me a moment and I’ll get up!” A man appeared round the end of the hedge, mobile phone in hand. “Do you want me to call an ambulance? Shall I dial 999?” and he seemed quite disappointed when I declined his offer, thanked him for his concern but I was OK and would get up when had I got my breath back – which I did. My worst ‘injury’ was that I had landed in nettles and the whole of my arm stung; so I rolled up my sleeve and poured water down the offending skin. That did the trick!
We carried on past a wharf where lots of yachts were moored, in fact it is the picture on the front of my ‘Explorer’ OS map! To our left were gravel lakes with whole flocks of birds flying round and landing momentarily. The path turned into a track, then into a road. Eventually we came out by the bridge over Oare Creek which is quite a busy thoroughfare.

That ended Walk no.35, we shall pick up Walk no.36 next time on the bridge across Oare Creek, just outside Faversham. We were very thirsty, having been deprived of our beer and used a lot of our drinking water to soothe my arm. It took us a long time to march back into Faversham and find the other ‘real ale’ pub Colin had earmarked, and then they had sold out of the beer he likes! It just wasn’t our day, but at least we got a drink there, and a rest out of the sun. We felt a bit better then, and it was early enough to get all the way home in daylight.

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