So, I was dropped off in Dover about 8am, and off I set. It may make this blog a bit complicated, one direction one minute, the other the next, but we will just have to live with that...
|Looking back at Dover, Eastern Docks on the horizon, Western docks nearer, not to mention a fine beach!|
|Looking back to Dover from the top of the cliffs|
Although it is technically countryside, there is a busy road and a lot of other human stuff too. The first thing is Samphire Hoe, an artificial island built out from the cliffs using the spoil removed from the Channel Tunnel. You can drive down to it and then park, for a fee, which looking at it, seems a bit of a liberty. You would be lucky indeed, to see any samphire.
The next thing one notices is that the whole stretch between Dover and Folkestone has a lot of military detritus of one sort or another..
|WWII bunker with eco roof|
|WWII Listening ears, to help warn of incoming enemy planes|
Among other things there was a disused rifle range along the top of the cliffs. A group of four people were riding unlicensed offroad bikes around and that would have been OK if they had permission to be on the land and kept away from the footpath .. but when they started riding up behind me on the North Downs Way I blew a gasket and I had a good go at them. They were not as familiar with the concept of a National Trail as one would hope, but I think I got my point across.
|illegal motorbike rider, preferring not to be photographed|
Then after a few miles Folkestone starts to appear, and it has as much going on as Dover.. first the harbour appears in the distance, then the Battle of Britain Memorial.
|Folkestone Harbour appears in the distance|
|BoB Memorial, with the "Wings" building behind|
I have always been a fan of the memorial itself, which is well done and is poignant. I am not so sure about the fancy new building. I quite liked the old buildings, with their jolly volunteer staff. The new building is very slick and clinical, much bigger and more modern, but it lacks charm. I get the "wings" idea but it is invisible from most vantage points so will mainly interest passing Spitfire pilots .. and architects apparently, it has won several prizes.
After that comes Cheriton. You don't realise quite how big the channel tunnel terminal is until you see it from above.
|approaching the Channel Tunnel terminal|
|Channel Tunnel Terminal|
It took more than an hour to walk past it, and get it out of sight. After that things picked up rather, as I headed back into the more rural parts of Kent. I stopped for lunch at the Gatekeeper in Etchinghill, and very nice it was too. It had one particular quality which I tend not to look for normally, but which can be very useful when you are walking: quantity! Eat all you can and bag the rest up for later, in the knowledge that it will all be put to good use ...
After that, a very pleasant walk on towards Wye , Charing and the downs nearer to me that I am so familiar with. I chose to put the tent up on the edge of a field somewhere before I got to the Wye Downs, and settled down for the night.. but it was not a settled night.