A 15 min train ride to Herne Bay from the Thane District of Margate, there is a change in the coastline. The weather turned to overcast but still beautifying with its different shades of grey for an unplanned coastal walk to Reculver Towers and Roman Fort along part of the Saxon Shore Way. The terrain was rough and rocky with lots of crunchy seashells beneath my feet. I had ample time to walk along the coast before the tide came in. It took a little over an hour to reach the monastery ruins built over remnants of a Roman Fort. Quite a breathtaking scene with the backdrop of the ocean and a greyish blue overcast and by then, drizzling rain. I was lucky to have the area to myself for a brief period and took in the tranquillity and sounds of the crashing waves.
I walked back to Herne Bay along the footpath above the cliffs into a short forested canopy, as the tide had already come in. I was exhausted when arriving back to Herne Bay. Enjoyed some fabulous food at a local Turkish restaurant then walked along the pier before retiring early for another coastal walk the following day.
The next morning took me on the coastal walk from Herne Bay to Whitstable en route to Canterbury. The walk was pleasant but not breathtaking compared to the walks done within the last 48 hours. However, being by the sea, taking in the sounds and smell does it for me.
Canterbury! I felt like I took a step back to the Middle Ages. I was enamoured when I visited Winchester (see October 3rd blog), the same applied to Canterbury. It is one of those places that lingers with you after you have long gone. For me, it is the vibe and the amazingly preserved architecture.
The heart of Canterbury surrounds itself by defensive Roman walls built around 270 AD. Within, are cobbled stoned streets and a plethora of timber-framed houses to admire. The city seeps in history with its iconic Canterbury Cathedral, founded in 597, is a massive and impressive Gothic and Romanesque structure. While under some serious renovation, the Cathedral was open to the public (there were no lines and not many people) and maintained social distancing due to Covid (£12.50 per adult, buy tickets online, open 10 am to 4:30 pm and 12:30 am on Sunday. https://www.canterbury-cathedral.org/).
On a previous visit, I did the Pilgrims Way, which I recommended if you enjoy long country walks. The complete route takes 15 days though, in this day and age of hopping on and off trains, you can determine a couple of hours to a few days. The group I was with opted for a 3 1/2 hour walk from Wye. A perfect amount of time to get the feel and to enjoy the path of Pilgrims. Try plan to walk between April and May when the Bluebells can be seen in peak season within the forest.
Westgate Gardens is a beautiful spot along the River Stour and features an enormous Boabab tree. Another Boabab tree can be spotted within the Friends Garden of Canterbury Cathedral. If you don’t pay much attention to trees, I think this could be the start of something beautiful.
Make sure to walk past landmarks such as Englands largest medieval Westgate Tower, built in 1379, and Old Weaver’s Tudor house built in 1507; located on High Street. The building is currently under renovation but still awe dropping. There is the Canterbury Historic River Tours you can enjoy as it meanders down the River Stour as you listen to some of the local history (https://www.canterburyrivertours.co.uk/)
Butchery Lane and Sir John Boys House (also known as the Crooked House, built-in 1675) are worthy of a look as well as The Parrot; Canterbury’s oldest pub est. 1370! The Roman Museum and Eastbridge Hospital were closed due to Covid and I am anxious to visit when it re-opens. There is also the remains of St Augustine’s Abbey / St Martin’s Church dating back early 6th century.
There is so much to explore in Canterbury, it will warrant another visit.