Saturday 11 July

And my friends J and J are off to spend a week in St Ives at the HF centre where I have stayed twice before, and I have to admit to a tinge of envy. I wonder how welcoming the Cornish will be? It has been said that they do not want visitors because of the risk, but now the risk is almost non existent, I think they may be more interested in opening up the tourist facilities.

I was off on the last leg of the Medway walk. We started in Wouldham. Barbara had investigated buses back to Maidstone where we wanted to start, and there was allegedly a bus at 9.55, one of only 3 today. So we were there ready and waiting but already forming an emergency back-up plan. However, not long after 9.55, two double decker buses appeared. Bear in mind this is a tiny village where a double decker can barely squeeze through the street. So we jumped on and asked, why two? Oh, because of Covid, we can only take a limited number of passengers, so they send out two buses for the overflow. Hysterical. About 5 of us all the way to Maidstone. I suppose the government is subsidising all of this.

But anyway we located the Medway and set off. Much of the riverside path is a cycle track as well as a footpath so it was a bit hard going over asphalt surfaces. Allington lock marks where the Medway becomes a tidal river, and it was suddenly noticeably different, muddy and salty smelling. We crossed over and had to negotiate crossing the railway and the M2, very noisy footbridge, and although we had a few fields, there were also a lot of concrete tracks through amongst other things, a sewage farm But Aylesford is a pretty village.

It owed much of its wealth to being a strategic place on the river, and also having a bridge from Medieval times.

This photo is also to prove that I have had a hair cut at last.

The church was open but you could only walk around a little bit of it. It had an amazing painted organ which I found out dated from 1865. All the organ pipes were painted, there were pictures along the side, and little carved angels painted in gold along the top. It was a most elaborate confection for a village church. I have a particular interest in harps and lyres, so I was very taken by this image.

Just past Aylesford we came to The Friary, which is a place for religious retreats, but has a park open to the public, and even more attractive, a cafe which was open. We decided we should support them and forced ourselves to have a cup of tea and piece of carrot cake, having first of all given our name, address and phone number. I suppose this is how it will be for a while yet: rather odd I have to say. We had a walk around the Peace Garden, which was very pretty.

When we finished the walk back at Wouldham, the pub was open, but we did not indulge, both having to drive back along the motorway to get home. However, it was doing good business, and social distancing was a myth.

We have decided to skip the last section to Rochester, as much of it we have done before, and it becomes more industrial. But a good day’s walking, 9.5 miles, all very flat. Great weather, sunny but not too hot.

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