Walk completed August 16, 2014

Thursday, July 24, 2014

July 23, 2014 -- Day 38, Sandwich to Canterbury, 17 miles

The River Stour flooded last winter in Sandwich and at some places upstream. The river is tidal all the way to Fordwich (about 14 miles upstream from Sandwich), and the floods were the result of high storm tides coupled with heavy rainfall. All along the river I saw evidence of floods: water stains on buildings and sandbags remaining where they were placed last winter. The authorities are trying to enhance the sea defenses, and in Sandwich are constructing a brick wall along the river in an attempt to control flood tides.


Today’s walk followed the Stour Valley Walk from Sandwich along the river, and then left the river, passing through pastures, apple and pear orchards, grasslands, fields of grain, woodlands and a national nature reserve, not to mention towns at both ends  – quite a diverse landscape for one day. The footpath was not very well way-marked, requiring difficult route-finding in at least half a dozen locations. I enjoy route-finding problems like some people enjoy crosswords, but I have to admit that as the day grew warmer and more humid, route-finding grew increasingly tedious. A closed footbridge added 3/8 of a mile detour to an already hot walk.

Closed footbridge





I knew the day would be warm, and at first entertained the notion of simply taking a bus to Canterbury. But with a forecast of increasingly warm days over the next week, there’s a chance I may have to take a bus later, so I decided to walk as far as I could today. I noted a few “escape points” where I could leave the Stour Valley Walk and get to a town that would have bus service if necessary.

I saw no walkers on the footpath the entire day. Until Fordwich (about 14 miles from Canterbury), I never even saw a dog walker. I met Damian as I passed by his home in Westmarsh (about 5 miles into the walk). He is from Ireland, lived in California a short time, and now makes his home in Kent. He showed me an additional “escape route” in Stourmouth, should I need a bus due to the heat.


I was still cool enough when I reached Stourmouth, so I passed that bus opportunity, and continued on towards Upstreet (about the half-way point to Canterbury), where I rejoined the river. I stopped at a pub, had some lemonade, topped off my water, and figured I was good enough to push on to Fordwich.


Between Upstreet and Fordwich, the Way passes thought the Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve, an interesting wetland marsh, where I met Ben, who was pruning overgrowth along the footpath. Ben acknowledged that the sensitive habitat makes pruning decisions difficulty, but there comes a time when the path gets too overgrown and must be pruned.


Sundial at Stodmarsh
(not set to Daylight Savings Time)

When I reached Fordwich, with only three more miles to go, I decided to continue on rather than wait for a bus. By the time I reached my B&B, I was done in. I’m glad tomorrow is a rest day. I hope I have the energy to see the cathedral.



© 2014 Ken Klug


  1. That was a long walk, especially in the heat and humidity. Hopefully you downed a few apples & pears {pears look especially appealing!)
    Definitely need that rest day to check out the cathedral and other sites. Have fun!

  2. I just read all of your July postings! I arrived in DC. this am after 19 hours in the air from Cape Town. I am low on energy so I "walked" vicariously via your blog. The English countryside is so lush compared to the arid terrain of Namibia where I spent much of July. Both beautiful in their own way.