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Archives for adventures

Channel Tunnel

September 16th, 2022

I went for another walk along the Kent coast a few weeks ago, this time around the back of Folkestone near the Channel Tunnel and on to Dover.

Channel Tunnel terminal

I thought maybe I’d get a good view of the tunnel entrance from the hills above but it wasn’t as impressive as I’d imagined. Back when it first opened there was an exhibition centre somewhere around here but it must have been demolished.

A precipitous drop near Dover

The section of cliff-top path between Folkestone and Dover was awesome, I’ll give it 9/10 for walking experience. Dover itself doesn’t seem to have a lot worth visiting except the castle and the port. I dimly remember a family trip to the castle, but might warrant a repeat visit.

Saltwood Castle

August 3rd, 2022

I went for a walk last weekend near Folkestone and to my surprise I discovered a castle!

It’s Saltwood castle and is, somewhat incredibly, someone’s private residence so you can’t go inside which is a shame.

Glynde to Eastbourne

July 22nd, 2022

A little walk I did recently along the South Downs Way near Eastbourne.

Nothing really remarkable happened but I got free tea and cake from a church (thanks Jesus!) and the scenery was nice. I missed these open chalk downlands.

Wind Farm

June 30th, 2022

As promised I went out to explore the nearby wind farm and in doing so made another crossing of the Romney marsh!

The place is called Little Cheyne Court wind farm and it was built in 2008 after a lot of local opposition. There’s a public footpath running right through it so you can get up really close to the turbines. It’s actually pretty scary standing underneath them with the blades spinning.

After that I plodded over the marsh to Dymchurch. Dymchurch is lovely! It’s a very stereotypical slightly-tacky British seaside resort, like a time capsule from the 60s or 70s. I had a 99 with a flake from an ice cream van, it was wonderful.

Into The Marsh

May 30th, 2022

Last Friday was “Day of Care” at work so I decided to head out for an adventure to the wastelands of Romney Marsh.

The marsh is a large area of reclaimed land in Kent. As you might expect it’s very flat and perhaps not the most interesting terrain for walking.

Studying the map beforehand I knew I had to pay a visit to “Sheaty Sewer”, and this wooden bridge over a foetid open sewer vastly exceeded my expectations! (I think “sewer” might mean irrigation channel locally.)

Sheaty sewer

Below is the 800 year old church at St Mary in the Marsh. The church is open to look around during the day.

Church at St Mary in the Marsh

Towards the end I arrived at one of my favourite places, Dungeness! Not only is there a mini train and a lighthouse, there’s not one but two nuclear power plants! I discovered a path between them and the sea. It was very exciting. Below is Dungeness A, the older one, which is being decommissioned now but Dungeness B is still operating.

Dungeness A

Rye to Battle

May 26th, 2022

A somewhat uneventful walk from Rye to Battle, the site of the battle of Hastings no less. Here’s the river Tillingham just outside Rye.

One thing I’ve noticed down here is that footpaths are not nearly as well signposted as they were back up in Oxfordshire. I got lost quite often, including walking in a big circle at one point. Maybe my navigation just sucks now.

Bodium Castle and Robertsbridge

April 26th, 2022

Despite growing up here I’ve never done much exploring of the “interior” of East Sussex. Normally I just go for a walk along the coast in one direction of the other. Well, time to change that: a new programme of exploration is launched! The first mission is north to Bodium Castle and then to Robertsbridge.

A wood just outside Hastings

This was my favourite part of the walk, an unexpectedly lush wood just a few minutes from Hastings hospital.

Bodium Castle

Bodium Castle is basically what you get when you ask a five year old to draw a generic castle. It made a brief film appearance as “Swamp Castle” in Monty Python and the Holy Grail!

Robertsbridge high street

This was the most picturesque part of Robertsbridge, a small town on the Hastings-London train line. I’ve passed through it on the train loads of times but I don’t think this is the first time I’ve ventured into the town itself.

On the map I saw a “Robertsbridge Abbey” but what is left of the ruin is on private land and so a bit of a disappointment.

Sidley

April 23rd, 2022

Unseasonably warm and sunny weather on the Easter bank holiday weekend so I decided to go for a walk in the opposite direction along the coast.

The sea was eerily calm, almost like a lake. You can see in the miniscule waves in the picture below.

The rebuilt (and bankrupt) Hastings pier

I got to Bexhill and on a whim decided to divert to Sidley, site of my former sixth form college.

All that remains of Bexhill Sixth Form college

Alas the college has since been demolished: all that hints at its former existence is a residential estate named “Scholar’s Walk” and these old railings. Demolition is a common fate of educational institutions attend by me.

Sidley, but it could be anywhere really

Sidley is pretty nondescript. It doesn’t seem to have changed much in the last 18 years (I think the Aldi is new). I wouldn’t recommend a visit.

Gasson’s Ruin

March 20th, 2022

I suppose I should feel honoured that my family’s ancestral hall has been commentated with this fine information board. However the building itself has seen better days and is not quite the fine palace I was imagining.

The heyday of our family beach hut

… and today’s sorry state

It’s just along the coast from Rye Harbour, which is somewhere I’ve visited many times, but I never saw the “ruin” before.

Mary Stanford lifeboat house

This is the “Mary Stanford” lifeboat house named after the lifeboat that used to be based here which tragically sunk in 1928 drowning all 17 crew.

Here’s the route I took along the coast:

Chongming Island

March 7th, 2022

Chongming island 崇明岛 is a large island on the north of the Yangtze estuary. And while it’s technically part of Shanghai it’s actually very rural and makes for an interesting day out.

Ferry to Chongming island

Getting there from the city is a bit convoluted. The quickest way is to take subway line 3 to Baoyang Road and take a bus to the ferry terminal of the same name. The ferry takes about 50 minutes and costs 16 RMB. Make sure you get the one to Nanmen 南门 as that’s the most touristy part.

Walking along the Yangtze river

I walked along the bank of the Yangtze river for a little way from the ferry terminal. It was really hazy. Might have been pollution but the air quality report that didn’t seem too bad…

Chongming academy

Next stop was Chongming Academy, an old Confucian school. Nothing spectacular to look at, but there’s some interesting exhibits (in Chinese) in several of the buildings about the history of Chongming island. Apparently it used to be an important centre of cloth production, and now it’s trying to reinvent itself as an ecotourism destination.

After that I took the bus to the wetland park in the north of the island. The bus trip is around an hour, which I wasn’t expecting, but the view along the way was interesting. One thing you’ll notice straight away is almost everyone on the island is old (quite common in rural China). The other noteworthy thing was the number of churches – I counted at least two plus some crosses on walls – which I hardly ever see on the mainland.

Harvested grass in the wetland park

With all the time spent travelling I only had time for two attractions but there’s also some temples and a forest park, so maybe you could make a weekend of it.

Here’s a pro tip: the last boat back to the mainland is at 6pm. If, like me, you miss this it’s also possible to take a long-distance bus back to the mainland via the bridge at the south of the island. The bus leaves from the bus station near the ferry terminal and takes about 1.5 hours to reach a subway station on line 6.