Friday, May 10, 2002

Walk 45 -- Upchurch to Horrid Hill

Ages: Colin was 60 years and 2 days. Rosemary was 57 years and 145 days.
Weather: Dull, grey, overcast, but at last that cold wind has dropped.
Location: Upchurch to Horrid Hill.
Distance: 5 miles.
Total distance: 283 miles.
Terrain: Through an orchard, along a lane, another orchard, grassy banks alongside ‘Medway mud’ and made-up tracks.
Tide: In, going out.
Rivers to cross: None.
Ferries: None.
Piers: None.
Kissing gates: No.43 near Bloors Wharf.
Pubs: None – Colin seems to have given up.
‘English Heritage’ properties: None.
Ferris wheels: None – I definitely have given up on this one!
Diversions: None.
How we got there and back: We packed up our camp near Minster. We drove – with bikes on the back of the car – from the campsite to the Riverside Country Park (which includes Horrid Hill) where we parked. We donned our walking boots, locked the bike rack inside the car, then cycled back to Upchurch where we chained the bikes to a tree in the village.
At the end, we came to our car after only four miles of walking. We had a cup of tea, then trudged the final mile out to Horrid Hill and back. After a second ‘cuppa’, we drove to Upchurch to pick up the bikes. Then we took the quickest way out to the motorway and drove home to Bognor.

This morning, Colin was delighted to see a pair of green woodpeckers out on the clifftop right next to our camp! He was even more delighted to get some pictures of them. What did not please us so much was the fact that the only rain which fell all day chose to do so just as we were taking down the tent! It came down so hard, we both decided separately to suggest to the other that we abandon today’s hike – then it stopped so we went back to Plan A. But we have a soaking wet tent to take home, which is a nuisance.

By the time we had set up today’s walk and got to the double stile it was lunchtime, so we sat on the second stile to eat our sarnies – not peaceful by any means because, as always in the countryside these days, someone was working machinery nearby. What a noisy world we live in! Then we continued across the second part of the orchard and along a bit of lane. We had to cross another orchard, and the map told us that the path went diagonally from corner to corner, but in actual fact we had to walk round the edges. We didn’t mind that, it must be a bit of a bind having your field cut in two by a public footpath.
What we did mind was the water – it looked and smelt a bit soapy – which was gushing out of a pipe at the back of a building called Mill Farm. It flowed for about fifty yards turning our path into a stream. Good thing we both had boots on and it was too cold for Colin’s trekking sandals! It was quite slippery, and I am still paranoid about slithering over and breaking a leg. I know from experience how easily this can happen, and I just couldn’t go through all that again! Eventually the water spewed out all over the road – we had noticed it earlier as we cycled along to plant our bikes. It really is too bad!
A smidgen of lane, then we turned off past some houses and factory units. We were unsure whether the public footpath notice was directing us next to the biggest factory building or through an adjacent orchard, so we chose the orchard because it was much more pleasant to walk on grass. It turned out we were wrong, but fortunately so had a lot of other people before us. They had made a hole in the hedge at the other end and worn a path over the bank! Colin led me through and once more we were by the mud.
We saw a few birds today, but not many and nothing to get over-excited about. We were approaching the silver dome of a large sewage works (yippee!) but fortunately our way was barred before we reached it and we had to cut across to the other side of the Motney Hill peninsula missing out the end. On this side there were more hulks of rotting barges – is the Medway mud a graveyard for dead ships?
We walked round Bloors Wharf, a concrete apron where ships would have berthed in times gone past. It must have been important, it is big enough, but how did they cope with it silting up? Obviously they didn’t because it is now redundant. From there it was a pleasant walk along to the Riverside Country Park, and quite a few people were out enjoying it.
We stopped at our car and had a cup of tea, then we tackled Horrid Hill which isn’t horrid at all and can hardly be described as a hill. It is a rock about half a mile out in the mud, joined to the mainland by a causeway. It has a decent path out to it because it has been adapted for wheelchair users, so it was a nice easy walk to end our four days. The ‘blurb’ told us that there used to be a cement works on Horrid Hill, and that the causeway was a railway line where little engines used to tow the cement away. We walked out to the rock, all round it and back across the causeway ignoring dire notices telling us we could be cut off by the tide (it was out!)

That ended Walk no.45, we shall pick up Walk no.46 next time at the shore end of the causeway to Horrid Hill. We returned to our car, had another cup of tea, then drove back to Upchurch to pick up our bikes. From there, we found the quickest way out to the motorway and drove home to Bognor.

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