North Downs Way:
Coldblow Lane, Thurnham to Dunn Street

19 August 2007

With Lucy taking Henry and Ellie to a dog show in Maidstone, Stephen and George went for a second walk along part of the North Downs Way. The weather forecast was poor, but a decision was made to go anyway and hope for the best.

After a wet drive from London, it is currently dry here, and it is to be hoped that the BBC were being pessimistic about the amount of rain. But the sky looks threatening.

From our start point, we have a short but steep walk up onto the North Downs escarpment

A photo of George at the start, looking clean and fluffy after his successes at his dog show yesterday, getting second in best short-tailed dog, and doing very well in the agility.

On the escarpment, there is rain to be seen not far away

Sure enough, about 1015 the rain started: sheep in the rain.

Hollingbourne village through the gentle rain

The Dirty Habit pub in Hollingbourne, temptingly offering a Sunday carvery out of the rain, but I think we are already too wet to be welcome - and muddy too, after sliding around in the mud on the escarpment.

From Hollingbourne, the rest of the walk is along the Pilgrims Way, towards the bottom of the escarpment, and offers a rather different style of path, with a mixture of byways like this, bridleways, and metalled roads.

George, starting to look rather less clean and fluffy

Looking to the village of Harrietsham, as the rain stops for a little while. Soon after this, we were nearly knocked over by three motorcycles racing at high speed along the gravelly byway.

This was our first bench of the day, and I share it with another weary traveller. After this, the rain returned with a vengeance, and the hope that we'd had the worst proved to be a false hope.

Lenham war memorial is a 200ft chalk cross carved into the slope of the North Downs. First constructed in 1922, it was restored in 1994. Below it was our second bench of the day

Nearby, the second milestone we'd spotted on the North Downs Way, and we are 21km nearer to Dover than the last one.

George on a damp byway

Brighter weather starts to push its way through, and from now on we only have intermittent light rain.

Continuing along the Pilgrims Way

A very dishevelled George

A tree on a traffic island as we walk along a metalled section of the Pilgrims Way

A chalk quarry is followed by a long dark section as the Pilgrims Way makes its way through woodland, site of the third bench of the day, labelled as "Arthur's Bench" - thanks, Arthur, much appreciated as the feet became weary. We emerged from woodland at Dunn Street where Lucy, Henry and Ellie picked us up after a good show - Ellie got Best in Breed with Henry getting Reserve Best.

Not the most exciting of walks. I guess with about half of it done in the rain, that could influence opinion, but with the exception of the first few kilometres to Hollingbourne, the whole of the walk might be described as being on a road - the Pilgrims Way - and a pretty straight road too. Perhaps a third of the "road" was tarmac, but the rest was a loose surface as either a byway or bridleway, but it still felt like a road, and as a result the walk had a certain monotony. Perhaps in better weather that might not have mattered so much, though I'm not so sure it would make that big a difference. But it was still good to get out of the house and exercise the legs, for what turned out to be, narrowly, Stephen's longest walk since 1996.

Total distance on the GPS was 22.1 km (21.9 km on the Way) with 348m ascent, in 6 hours 26 minutes (5 hours 8 minutes moving) - that means that about 21% of the North Downs Way is now walked.

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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson