321. Allhallows to Gillingham

I had booked myself into the Royal Victoria and Bull hotel in the centre of Rochester. I don’t think the place had seen much renovation or decoration since Dicken’s first visited the town in the mid-19th century! Dickens actually did use the Bull (referred to as the Boar) in the Pickwick Papers. In fact there is a lot of Dickens literary connections with Rochester and the surrounding area. As well as living in Chatham for a number of years he died in nearby Higham at Gadshill.

Today was going to be quite easy travel wise. I had left my car parked at the hotel and decided to catch a bus back out to Allhallows. I caught the 07:43 #191 bus from close to my hotel. The bus was almost full, mainly with schoolchildren. Unfortunately, I sat a few seats away from one particularly obnoxious little brat. He spent the entire journey, swearing, cursing and I don’t’ mean the occasional expletive. I don’t know if this is how he talked or behaved at home, who knows, but I was reluctant to intervene, as an adult I feared being accused of almost anything. I kept my mouth shut, waiting for the little sh*t to get off the bus and feeling sorry for the teachers having to deal with this behaviour.

I got off the bus in Allhallows, the journey time had been just over an hour and the cloudless sunny sky had me believing it was going to be warm. Instead I set off walking into a strong headwind, which was very cold. I had decided to avoid the south-east part of the Hoo Peninsula, as it contained just industrial areas container ports, oil storage depots and power stations. Also most the roads did not have footpaths or even verges to walk on, plus I would have to contend with lots of heavy goods traffic. I therefore plotted a route using public footpaths across fields and minor lanes. It was hard work walking into the headwind, as I made my way to Upper Stoke and then across more fields towards the Kingsnorth Power station. There is a single track railway out to the Isle of Grain, where all the industry is located and just before the power station I had to cross the railway line. As I closed the crossing gate behind me a goods train suddenly appeared, the driver sounded his horn (or rather whistle which is what they must do). Fortunately, I had seen the train and just waved to the driver. That’s the first time I have ever been delayed by a passing train on one of these crossings. Close by to the power station was another huge Amazon distribution centre.

Heading out from Allhallows with Southend visible across the Thames
The heavy industry to the SE on the Isle of Grain
Crossing the railway track near Kingsnorth Power Station
Heading down the Medway Estuary

I walked past Kingsnorth Power Station and headed for the Medway estuary joining the sea bank and shortly afterwards by the Saxon Shore Way. The grass sea bank soon disappeared and I had to make my way along a narrow pathway hemmed in by industry and boatyards. The footpath had excellent signage and I was able to pass through without any problems. Soon after the boatyards I had to walk along the stony beach, which would have been impossible at high tide. I soon came across a set of walls and brickwork that at first looked like a limekiln. In fact these were the ruins of Cockham Wood Fort, built in 1669 to guard the approach to Rochester, it was abandoned back in 1818. I eventually emerged with very muddy feet at the village of Lower Upnor. As I climbed the steep steps to get around the Ordnance Yard, the days walking had begun to fatigue me somewhat. It may have been the headwind. After passing through the charming village of Upper Upnor I arrived at a major roundabout which directed traffic towards the Medway Tunnel. I passed through Strood along the recently built Riverside Way. I could now see the Rochester Bridge over the River Medway. I could now see an old submarine moored out in the river. This was an ex-Soviet submarine named Foxtrot B39 built in 1967 and now in private hands awaiting restoration.

I crossed over the Rochester Bridge, which itself was under a re-build and popped into the hotel I was staying at. Here I dropped off my bag and replenished my water supply. I paid a flying visit to Rochester Castle and Cathedral, continuing along the quaint High street. Rochester is certainly a place I would like to return to and explore at greater length. I headed into Chatham, walking along the Dock Road and past the historic Naval Dockyards. I walked through the grounds of the Medway University and onto the Asda store there where I bought some food. My next destination was to walk to Gillingham railway station, where I would join up again with the Saxon Shore Way and end today’s walk by getting a train back to Rochester.

Not a particularly satisfying walk, but progress is always welcomed.

On the Saxon Shore Way through Hoo Marina
Heading along the shoreline of the Medway
The ruins of Cockham Wood Fort
Looking back to Port Werburgh and the heavy shower that just missed me!
Approaching Lower Upnor
The figurehead from HMS Arethusa, the fourth ship of her name
The village of Upper Upnor
An Soviet “Foxtrot” type B-39 submarine awaiting restoration in the Medway
Crossing Rochester Bridge
Rochester High Street
Rare green painted Victorian post box outside the Guildhall Museum in Rochester
The Guildhall in Rochester, just opposite my hotel bedroom window
Rochester Castle
Rochester Cathedral
An interesting way to cover up unsightly railway arches in Chatham
The renovation of Fort Amherst underway
Heading along The Medway in Chatham
Entrance to the historic Dockyards in Chatham

Distance today = 16 miles
Total distance = 5,876 miles



2 thoughts on “321. Allhallows to Gillingham”

  1. That part of North Kent sticks in my mind as one of the worst parts of the English coast. Loads of industry, not many paths and so much of the countryside felt “abused” (fly tipping, rubbish, motorbike riders and so on). Though Rochester is a nice town and I did enjoy that. I did visit the castle and cathedral there but would also like to go back and visit the historic dockyard at Chatham which I didn’t do (I very much enjoy the historic dockyard in Portsmouth). Sadly it looks like all my carefully made plans for this year will all be in vain, it is very depressing.


  2. Hi Jon, yes I agree with what you have to say there .
    Jon, I am assuming what you said at the end is to do with the Govt announcement about “essential travel”? I was planning a 3 day walking trip to Aberdeenshire next week, which has now been thrown into question. I might think about some single day away trips, as I rarely meet anyone else and if I don’t stay overnight. At the moment Telford & Wrekin has zero cases, I doubt it will stay like that for too long. Its so depressing and frustrating.


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