Thursday 2 July

What a beautiful town sign. This is where we started today’s walk, along the R Medway to Maidstone. The footpath, the river and the railway all run in close proximity here: firstly we had to cross the railway track, where there is a lovely old signal box, with a man in it pressing buttons for the level crossing.

We were about to see the one train an hour here. In the background you can see the Railway Tavern, sadly not yet open but maybe from Saturday.

The Medway here is getting wider and deeper, as you can see from the pleasure craft here. We saw a group of people renting kayaks to go for an expedition in the Maidstone direction. We saw them later, picnicking by the river. We also saw many anglers today.

I always have in mind that this part of Kent is becoming more industrial but of course that is only in certain specific areas. Otherwise there are many historic buildings: old manor houses, oast houses, churches, and bridges.

As we approached Maidstone I was surprised to see a lovely stone built building by the river. It transpires this was the archbishop’s palace, dating from around the 14th century, as accommodation for the Archbishop of Canterbury when he went on his travels. Today it is a wedding venue, sadly at the moment mothballed.

Next to the palace is All Saints church, opened in 1395 and regarded as one of the best Perpendicular style churches in Kent. We did not stop to investigate, as it was most likely closed,

and also we had a train to catch! There is currently one train an hour from Maidstone to Wateringbury. It is on a fairly quiet line anyway. Neither Barbara nor I have been on a train since the beginning of lockdown so this was by way of a first. So we put our masks on and advanced. Scarcely any passengers, but in the middle of a Thursday afternoon, maybe not so unusual. There were about 9 passengers on each platform. Of those opposite us, no-one had a mask, and on our side, only us and one other.

The train was extremely clean, there were a handful of passengers on it, and we were on it for about 9 minutes, so I don’t feel as if I was undertaking the most dangerous enterprise! I would be more than happy to go on a train again.

The station at Wateringbury is very cute, and there seem to be some ancient buses lurking in the background. It is village of about 2000 people, and owes its origin as is self explanatory, to being on the river. There used to be 3 mills here, and also breweries, with many hops being grown locally. Sadly much of this has faded away and I guess it is a commuter area for Maidstone. We were lucky to complete our 6.5 miles before the rain started. Not too hot either, perfect walking weather.

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