Saturday, March 23, 2002

Walk 41 -- Leysdown-on-Sea to Warden Point, Isle of Sheppey

Ages: Colin was 59 years and 319 days. Rosemary was 57 years and 96 days.
Weather: Sunny and exceptionally clear. Mild with a light wind.
Location: Leysdown-on-Sea to Warden Point, Isle of Sheppey.
Distance: 3 miles.
Total distance: 253 miles.
Terrain: Tarmacked car park next to the sea wall, hard sand on the beach with scrunchy shells, and unmade-up roads with very muddy patches.
Tide: Way out.
Rivers to cross: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: None.
Pubs: None.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None.
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We drove – with bikes on the back of the car – from the Medway Youth Hostel to Warden Point where we parked next to a monastery! We donned our walking boots, locked the bike rack inside the car, then cycled back to Leysdown-on-Sea. We sat on the sea wall where we had parked yesterday and ate the hot pasties which we had just bought. There was no suitable post to chain the bikes to, so we walked – pushing them – for half a mile until we found one.
At the end, we had a cup of tea from our flask in the car. Then we drove to Leysdown-on -Sea to pick up the bikes. From there we drove back home to Bognor.

The weather was brilliant today, warm and sunny! That helped our mood, especially me because I am pretty miserable without my proper glasses. I am getting used to my plastic-framed distance glasses and didn’t take them off so often today. Also, we had slept well again in our comfortable oast-houses hostel at Medway with only quiet fellow guests. It is so pleasant there, modern, light and airy.
We sat on the seawall, where we had parked yesterday, to eat hot pasties which we had just bought. It was so clear we could see not only the towers of Reculver, but all the way to Margate! We couldn’t see a suitable post to chain our bikes to, so Colin suggested we push them along for a while because we had to walk along the edge of the road anyway. About a quarter of a mile further on, where the road turned inland at an angle, we found a post and so left them there.
The tide was way out, so we went down on to the beach. That saved all the zigzagging round caravan parks for the next couple of miles. The sand was hard-packed and crunchy underfoot because of shells. Thousands of beautiful shells are pressed into the sand on that beach. I stopped to take a close-up photo of them, and as I stood up a passing stranger made some sarky remark. I countered with, “When I’m famous….!” and he laughed.
Colin remarked on all the caravan parks right up to the seawall with barbed wire along the top so that access is impossible when the tide is in. Who pays for the upkeep and repair of the seawall? Bet it isn’t the caravan park owners – and if it comes out of the local Council tax, then why are the general public barred from walking along what they have paid for? Hypocrisy reigns supreme at all levels of government! However, we didn’t let it spoil our mood of the day because we really did enjoy that walk along the beach in the sunshine.As we approached Warden we could see an abandoned car which had been driven on to the beach and left below high tide level, so it was a wreck. Some children were playing nearby – it’s nice to see children playing on the beach but not to the backdrop of stolen cars.
There we left the beach and climbed up the loose sandy cliffs which are unstable and falling away all over the place. I wouldn’t like to live within a mile of them! At one place, our path completely disappeared, and we could see where it continued on the other side of the landslide. We took an unmade-up road inland, and turned into a track leading past yet more caravan sites. It descended into a muddy hollow which we couldn’t avoid, but since we had cycled through it a couple of hours earlier we knew it wasn’t very deep. With our boots and gaiters, it was no problem – unlike a family coming the other way who were wearing sandals and trainers!
We passed our parked car and took a short cul-de-sac to Warden Point – at fifty metres above sea level it is supposed to be the best viewpoint on Sheppey. Well..! at least we had a very clear day and could see quite a bit of the Essex coast. Not much else to say about it, really. We returned to our car which we had parked next to a building that looked a bit like an old barn, and was marked as a chapel on the map. A board on the wall claimed it was a ‘Monastery of the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary’ – that sounded very Catholic to us. While we were drinking our tea, we heard what sounded like a convent bell calling people to prayers, but there was no apparent bell tower and no sign of movement within the building nor the garden behind it. Curious!

That ended Walk no.41, we shall pick up Walk no.42 next time by the ‘monastery’ at Warden Point on the Isle of Sheppey. We drove back to Leysdown to pick up our bikes, then we drove home to Bognor where we arrived before dark.

No comments: