Many remarkable people found their identities on rivers: Cleopatra on the Nile; Lewis and Clark on the Missouri; Mark Twain on the Mississippi; Jeff Bezos on the Amazon. This is the story of my 600+ mile walk along the waterways of southern England in the summer of 2014, and the remarkable people I met along the way. It is best read in chronological order, so I recommend starting with the earliest posting in the Blog Archive list in the right margin.
Walk completed August 16, 2014
Thursday, July 24, 2014
July 23, 2014 -- Day 38, Sandwich to Canterbury, 17 miles
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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)
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.