Northfleet to Greenwich (Pt2)

Day 317 Erith to Greenwich. A very enjoyable walk along the Thames path where I felt more like a tourist than a soon to be ex-coastal walker. Most people read my tabbard, looked at me, saw me smiling or heard me saying ‘Morning’ and immediately looked away or to the floor. No exaggeration. Many walking or cycling on the path had headphones on trying to drown out London I guess. When I trained for the London Marathon, I never had headphones on for a run. I used my imagination for motivation. Whilst walking, the noises, smells and sights are what makes the walk for me.
Anyway, there were many famous sights on my walk today. Thames Barrier, Millenium Dome, Canary Wharf, Greenwich and Cutty Sark. Signs for Tower Bridge were greeted firstly by excitement, then by sadness. I realised I had slowed up as I went around the Millennium Dome. Part tiredness and part not wanting this to end. But end it must so roll on tomorrow and let’s complete the circle.







Northfleet to Greenwich (pt1)

Day 317 Northfleet to Erith. I have split this into 2 walks, today and tomorrow as today I had to move Travelodges and store the car somewhere. Today was dry, chilly and windy. It was fascinating walking under the QE2 bridge. I remember when they were building this. As there was already a Dartford Tunnel, we in Essex thought it was going to be called the Thurrock Bridge but we ultimately lost the batte. It is a huge bridge and one I am very glad NOT to be going over. At the time of opening, it had the longest cable-stayed span of any bridge in Europe.
Inland trip to get round the River Darent and at Erith, I finally got signs for the Thames path. I will be following this right to the finish
Tomorrow, I will walk Erith to Greenwich and prepare myself for the final leg.





Rochester to Northfleet

Day 316 Rochester to Northfleet. What a difference a day makes. Rochester looked grumpy in the low cloud and drizzle and I was rapidly blown across the Medway to Strood. The showers and wind meant it was head down road walking for long periods. My well weatherd cap was packed away safely in my rucksack and at times, I wished I was in there too.
Gravesend was another nostalgia trip for me. Oddly enough, my memories of taking the Tilbury to Gravesend ferry back in the 70’s, are also in wet and windy conditions. Looking over the Thames to my county of birth was a weird experience as was seeing a basketball court full of pigeons.
Then came signs for Pocahontas statue?? I vaguely remembered the link with Gravesend but had to go i to the town to take a look.
Northfleet will have to wait till tomorrow. Maybe there will be tennis court full of seagulls and a Shrek statue. You never know with this walk.


Sittingbourne to Rochester

Day 315 Sittingbourne to Rochester. You will be glad to know that I did not do any sitting in Sittingbourne, it did not rain in Rainham and I did some chatting in Chatham. Tomorrow I will be Strood.
Rochester’s double whammy of castle and cathedral blew me away. A big wow moment. I try not to look at what I am going to see of a day and let it be a surprise. I knew from the map that the end of my walk would be castle and cathedral but refused to go online to look at them. Well played Rochester


Whitstable to Sittingbourne

Day 314 Whitstable to Faversham. Well I didnt make it to Sittingbourne mainly due to me faffing around in Whitstable and having to go to a bank in Canterbury. The walk was mostly roads and as you can see, the sky was blue and there was a chilly breeze. I loved seeing the Kent Oast houses and the gorgeous medieval buildings in Faversham. Roads tomorrow then onto the Saxon shore way and the River Medway.



Westgate On Sea to Whitstable

Day 313 Westgate on Sea to Whitstable. I hugged the coast all day today and the route, weather, visibility and walk all made for a fitting end to Coastal walking for me. For the last few days of the walk I will be inland or alongside the River Thames. It was also lovely that I got to see glimmers of Essex on the horizon. The circle really did feel complete when I asked a local to confirm this. Indeed it was Essex I was seeing.
The walk was mostly along the sea wall with the tide out. I wondered if the waves had got wind of me finishing and were sulking. The Reculver Towers were visible from Westgate and took an age to appear fully in front of me.
“Are you the man off the Tele?” a cyclist said as he screached to a halt on the sea wall. I admitted that I might be. We chatted for a few minutes and he gave me a donation for the BHF. At least one person watched it
Herne Bay looked gorgeous with the blue sky and fading sun. I was very tired by then and the last few miles to Whitstable are a bit of a blur.
The Isle of Sheppey became clearer as I reached the end of the walk abd even Essex could be made out in a photo…just
It was hard work, mainly due to the emotions of my last day by the sea. Forwards through North Kent…..


Ramsgate to Westgate on Sea

Day 312 Ramsgate to Westgate on Sea. Wow what a day!! I met up with my Uncle David today and before the walk we visited a barber shop in King Street, Ramsgate. Not for a hair cut I hasten to add. This was the place where my great great great grandfather worked. Us Sandwell’s were originally from the Isle of Thanet back from 1600’s. If that wasnt exciting enough we had more to come when we met up with Tony from ITV Meridian who interviewed and filmed us by the Bandstand in Ramsgate. Maddie from the BHF joined in the fun and hope to see the end result tonight
I have done many of these now…I am a pro
Uncle David and I then walked the upper path to the gorgeous Broadstairs and on round the corner of Kent to Margate.
I turned west at Botany Bay and faced London expecting to be elated at being in the final stretch. The opposite happened. I looked out into the Noth Sea and felt sad. ‘I’m going to miss you’ I thought.
We plodded on to Westgate on Sea and as the sun got lower, the temperature fell to make a chilly end to the walk. Here is the interview that appeared later in the day on ITV Merdian

Lizard to Ramsgate

I haven’t really been keeping this blog up to date.  I mainly use facebook to do a mini blog and post some pictures. Here are my latest posts from Portsmouth to Ramsgate for those who do not use Facebook and would like to know more as I come to the end of my walk.

Day 298 Emsworth to West Wittering. Foggy start but manage to find West Sussex ok. It was next to Hampshire as I thought. I saw on the map a route along Chichester canal’s tow path and I am so glad I went this way. When I was training for this, I spent many an hour going up and down the Grand Union Canal around Hemel Hempstead, Berkhamstead and Tring. Today’s path was gorgeous once the sun broke through the fog. It ends up in Chichester Marina where I saw millions of pounds worth of boats. Bars of gold floating in the water. It seemed perverse to me especially when a man in a large posh Mercedes tooted me for being in his way.
Still, made it on to the pretty village of West Wittering and onto the moon! The sand looked like pictures of the moon landing. A wonderful expanse of sand, sea, dog walkers and the odd coastal walker. Just Beautiful


Day 299 West Wittering to Selsey. Sandy walk to start the day, pushed inland as the tide came in at East Wittering. There were some incredible houses along this stretch – huge. Shingle walk to Bracklesham Bay and beyond until I got to the RSPB Medmerry diversion. 5 miles inland and back along the new sea defences. Not many birds out today. They were all tucked up, warm somewhere to get out of the cold northerly wind. It seemed to take forever to complete. Finally I arrived at breached section back at the coast and slowly chugged along into a gloomy looking Selsey.
I love the sounds of shingle walk days. The rhythmic crunching of my boots and the long “ssssshhh” as the wave slides back from the shore.


Day 300 Selsey to Bognor Regis. Cold start at Selsey. Disappointed that you can stand on Selsey Bill because someone has built a house there. I remember the Madness song, Driving in My Car: “I drive up to Muswell Hill, I’ve even been to Selsey Bill.”
There used to be Pontin’s holiday camps at Selsey and Bracklesham Bay, sadly both are now closed.
Anyway, around the nature reserve and back on the coast at Pagham. Two miles of shingle walking in a headwind felt like 10 miles. Finally reached Bognor and another lovely prom. Another day, another pier, another prom. Sounds dull but they are all so different. This one had a “beach on a beach” !! Finished at Butlins. My last Butlins of the walk.


Day 301 Bognor Regis to Worthing. 31,646 steps today and feeling a bit sore coming into Worthing when a man walks up to me and says “Kieran?” It was Tony, a fellow CHD who had been following the walk online. We were both born with the same heart defect, TGA. The days roll into each another so fast on this walk, I had forgotten that he was from Worthing and we had agreed to meet. So, it was a wonderful surprise that he jumped out on me during the walk. We chatted for a bit and then went our separate ways. I positively skipped the remaining mile and a half – all the aches and pains subsided rather quickly.
Before that, littlehampton looked pretty in November blue skies and the walk into Worthing was lovely. I didn’t have to tackle the shingle beach the whole way which was a bonus.
A beautiful setting sun enhanced my Worthing pics. I even got a seagull to pose.


Day 302 Worthing to Brighton. My name is Kieran and I am scared of heights and bridges. On this walk I have, reluctently, gone over the highest and scariest coastal bridges. Today however, I finally found a bridge that I was happy with. The Adur ferry bridge which links Shoreham over the River Adur has reinforced glass from floor to eye level, doesn’t move and isn’t very long. I enjoyed it so much I went back over it again for fun.
This led eventually to a grim industrial area sadly but rejoined the coast just before Hove. The walk from there to Brighton was photo-tastic. The huge BA i360 dominates the skyline but I loved the old Victorian buildings, the wreck of the West Pier and of course, the Brighton Palace Pier.
Noisy, energetic, traditional, futuristic, artistic and sometimes utterly zany, Brighton prom really has something for everyone. I enjoyed watching a posing rollerblader get tangled in a dog lead. Who wouldn’t?
Bought some Brighton Rock to annoy my dentist and left Brighton gasping for breath. And all this on a cold November morning, must be mad in summer!!


Day 303 Brighton to Seaford. I had to make last minute changes to the walk today as my ankle was not happy. There’s always one! So reduced the mileage and did circular walks in Brighton, Rottendean, Newhaven and Seaford. All very different and I actually found a hill and a cliff. It’s been ages since I was up on a cliff.
At school, we had a short holiday to Dieppe to try to annoy the French with our pigeon French. So memories flooded back in Newhaven as I watched the ferry leave for Dieppe. I remember an old Frenchman talking to our French teacher Mr White, for about 5 minutes. It was fast french with incredible gesticulations from the old man. Mr White nodded in agreement every now and said “Oui” a number of times. Afterwards we asked Mr White what the man was talking about. “I have no idea” he said and we all wet ourselves laughing.
I now have two days off and back on Saturday.


Day 304 Seaford to Eastbourne. Wet and Windy day with a headwind. A wetheadwindy day! I have been looking forward to this one for 303 days now. I went to see the Seven Sisters a few years ago only for sea mist to cover them. So I pleased that I got a few good pics before the fog rolled in. Very hard walk as the total elevation was around 1500ft. There were plenty of walkers around so it felt like a team effort. I would love to do this walk again in summer as the white cliffs go so much better with blue sky. Eastbourne was getting dark by the time I reach the prom. Very pretty pier but the entrance was condoned off because of yesterday’s fire that ripped through The Claremont hotel on the seafront. Very sad seeing it reduced to a shell. It was built in 1851 and overlooks the pier.
Feet up now and clothes are drying.


Day 305 Eastbourne to Hastings. Damp, drizzly walk again with some dull noisy road walking. “Eastbourne – where all the shop windows are bi-focal”
Actually, Bexhill is where the oldies are but Eastbourne is where the youngsters hang out. I learnt this from my astonishingly poor tour guide, Joanna. “There’s the train, there’s the sea, this is the beach” I am teasing, Joanna is a fellow CHD who walked with me from Bexhill to Hastings. It is always lovely to meet fellow CHD’ers and we gassed all the way to Hastings. Amazingly, she has just ran a half marathon from starting out on a couch to 5K.
The walk today was very flat which was very much welcomed after Beachy Head yesterday.
We got to Hastings in the dark as we stopped for a coffee at the beautiful art deco De La Warr Pavillion in Bexhill. Well worth a view.


Day 306 Hastings to Rye. Last full day in East Sussex. Blustery, rainy day. I enjoyed walking around both Hastings old town, Rock-a-Nore and Rye. Cute place names like Fairlight, Ore and Prett.
Rye has a very interesting history:
“Medieval maps show that Rye was originally located on a huge embayment of the English Channel called the Rye Camber, which provided a safe anchorage and harbour. Probably as early as Roman times, Rye was important as a place of shipment and storage of iron from the Wealden iron industry. The Mermaid Inn originally dates to 1156. Rye, as part of the Saxon Manor of Rameslie, was given to the Benedictine Abbey of Fécamp in Normandy by King Æthelred; it was to remain in Norman hands until 1247”
For more,_East_Sussex


Day 307 Rye to Dungeness. Reached the most South-easterly point on mainland Britain. The last of my 8 compass points. Also the last nuclear power station. I had to chop the walk into bits as I was stuck in traffic on my way to the walk. The tide was in on Camber Sands and enough wind to blow Trump’s wig over the Atlantic. This area is very flat and once the wind gets up there is nothing to be a wind break. My cap survived, in fact the closer I am to the finish, the more desperate I am not to lose it. Dungeness looked bleak on a wet windy November day. Even the two lighthouses looked fed up. Turning the corner was fantastic moment, mostly due to the relief from the wind but also the significance of it. I have finish the long eastward trek from Lands End and now only have a small northerly section and then westbound along the Thames. Eeekkk


Day 308 Lydd On Sea to Folkestone. A real trip down memory lane today. As a child we had a week in Dymchurch every summer thanks to our family friend Sylvia. Every visit to somewhere from childhood you utter the phrase “I remember when all this was fields” at some point. I did that today only once because most of Dymchurch hasn’t changed much. The caravan park has changed obviously. The smell of stale cigarettes and spilt beer is not acceptable nowadays so they nnocked down the old clubhouse. The main change has been the sea wall. Already huge in the 70’s, a new solution had to be found after a few floods. The tide was coming in so I didnt get to see the golden sand where I built many a castle in my youth.
Onto Hythe, wisely skirting around the firing range. For amusement, I made sure every gunshot was replied loudly with “OUCH” It didnt stop them.
I stopped for lunch with Sylvia and her husband Dave and we had Ham baguettes and a large dolup of reminiscing. So lovely to see them both again. All the wet weather gear was reluctently put on and I left their warm house for more wet walking.
Folkestone appeared eventually and it was dark by the time I found the BHF shop to finish.
Wet, windy, nostaligic walk. I stupidly put some biscuits in my rucksack and I now have soggy Ginger Nuts. I will leave that thought with you


Day 309 Folkestone to Dover. I had to do two circular walks yesterday in Folkestone and Dover as my ankle was not happy. On the plus side it looks like BBC South East will be coming out to film me next week which hopefully will bring in more donations.


Day 310 Dover to Deal. Dover harbour really is a fascinating to watch from up on the white cliffs. I could have sat all morning watching the loading, unloading, reversing and setting off of the ferries.
The garden of England stopped watering its plants today and I have lovely deep blue sky all day. St Margaret at Cliffe is actally one of the best places to see the white cliffs. I loved that bay. I must have taken 5 or 6 videos as the waves crashed into the cliffs. Deal or no Deal was definately Deal with a nice long prom to guide my sore feet in. Amazingly, I actually went on the pier – even right to the end!! No my height and bridges phobias werent cured, the pier was made of concrete and you couldnt see through the floor.
I only have a few more coastal walks left before chugging down the Thames. Excited to finish but sad to leave.


Day 311 Deal to Ramsgate. Only 4 of my 14 miles today were next to the sea as I had to go inland. The detour was to get over the River Stour at Sandwich. Kent looked spiffing today as the sun paid a visit once again. Golfers hitting their balls and dogs fetching their balls formed the main part of my walk north from the bustling town of Deal. At Sandwich Bay, I left the coast to walk along private roads with huge houses, passing the Royal St Georges golf club. The small nibble of Sandwich I saw looked nice. I am sure it is deep filled with people trying to earn a crust…..I will stop with the breadpuns !!
I decided to spend a penny at the public toilets only to be charged 40p by a lady at the entrance. I backed away saying, “I’m sure I can hang on” and succesfully found a bush 5 minutes later.
I spent the next few miles alongside a main road inhaling eager Saturday driver’s exhaust fumes. The only interesting thing was seeing a plaque on the ground where local schools had buried a time capsule. To be opened in 2057.
I wonder what they put in it.
Onto Ramsgate and the lovely quays. Looking south I could still see ferries in the distance. My next walk on Monday, I will finish this small northerly section and turn westwards, facing London. Eeek! ITV Meridian are now filming me on Monday. 9am Ramsgate bandstand if anyone is interested. I have done a few of these and they are usually quite fun.
Day Off tomorrow…. yes