152. Faversham to Sittingbourne

June 2006

This was a walk of marshes, estuaries and mud rather than one of cliffs, beaches and dunes, as I was now heading further up the Thames estuary.

I started from home and drove to Sittingbourne via the M25, M2 and A249. I parked at the station car park in Sittingbourne, which did not look to be a pretty place. I took the train from there to Faversham.

From the station in Faversham I walked backed through the very pretty town past numerous lovely buildings to reach the southern end of the Faversham Creek, by the brewery. It was another beautiful and sunny day and in fact close to mid-summer day so the town looked especially nice.

Faversham

Faversham

Faversham

This time on reaching the end of the creek the tide was in, so it was full of water rather than mud.

Faversham Creek, Faversham

This time I crossed to the western side of the creek to head back towards the Swale estuary, once more on the Saxon Shore Way. After a short stretch alongside the estuary I had to take a brief inland diversion around an industrial estate and some modern flats, but then it was back to the estuary and I could see from the map this was now the case for some distance.

Looking back along the estuary there were some quite beautiful boats which I later found out are Thames Sailing barges, something I’d be seeing a lot more of on my walks around the Thames estuary.

Faversham Creek

Some pretty yellow flowers lined the side of the river making for an attractive scene. I passed the old Oyster Bay House now on the other side of the creek, a familiar sight from my last walk.

Faversham Creek

Given the fine weather I was surprised there were so few boats on the creek I saw only a couple. I passed some sheep beside the path, which was now a raised bank path alongside the creek. They were clearly hot, sheltering under the limited shade of a small tree.

Faversham Creek

I was keeping with the path along the edge of the marshes soon turning west, with the creek.

Faversham Creek

In a couple of miles from Faversham I soon reached the isolated Shipwrights Arms, that I had seen from the other bank last time and commented that it looked a little wonky. Well there was scaffolding around one end of the pub, so perhaps it was!

The Shipwrights Arms at Hollowshore

I had initially wondered how a pub had survived in such a remote location, but there was soon a clue in the shape of numerous boats moored up beside the river here – this is a popular stopping off point for those messing about in boats. Having more or less reached the mouth of Faversham Creek I had to head back inland again to get around a second creek, this one Oare Creek.

Oare Creek

The east side of the creek was lined with boats more or less the entire way, small and large.

Oare

Oare

As I neared the village of Oare I was passing gravel works on the left, which had created flooded lakes resulting in water on both sides of the path. At the end of the creek I turned right along the road a short distance, to go around the end of the creek and then return back towards the coast on the other side of the creek. I didn’t really go into the centre of the village as it is a little away from the path.

Oare

Back up the other side of the creek, there were far fewer boats moored up. Again I was following a raised sea-bank path with the creek to my right and marsh to my left. A lot of water around.

Oare Creek near Faversham

Soon I was passing that collecting of dead and decaying boats I had seen from the other bank last time. Once someones pride and joy they were now basically rotting wood that seemed to have been dumped here- a shame.

Oare Creek near Faversham

Oare Creek near Faversham

Now nearing the end of the creek I could see out to the almost open sea – with no land on the horizon it was nice to be back on the open coast.

Oare Creek near Faversham

I could see back down the coast towards Whitstable and a man in a small rowing boat. I wondered where he was going.

Oare Creek near Faversham

Now I turned left with the coast and followed the easy, if a little boring, path heading dead straight along the man-made banks. I suspect what I’m passing on the left is land once marshy and now drained by the erection of these sea walls.

The Swale between Faversham and Conyer

Across the Swale I could clearly see the Isle of Sheppey on the other side of the estuary.

The Swale

Soon I came to a road which just ended but opposite was a pub marked on the map as the Ferry Inn.

Former ferry crossing

So it was clear this had once been the location of a ferry over to Sheppey. Later research revealed this service had ceased in 1946. Despite this I could still see the slipway disappearing under the waters. The Isle of Sheppey looked more interesting than I had expected – it even had hills, a change from the flat marsh land I was walking beside.

My path was clear and easy but in truth not desperately interesting, the landscape was flat and fairly featureless.

The Swale between Faversham and Conyer

A look at the map suggested it had not always been quiet and I suspect was once an area of industry and military activity. All sorts of remains of buildings, old gravel pits and roads can be seen on the map. In fact I soon passed a little inlet whose sides were far to straight to be natural, once a little harbour to serve some sort of industry I imagine, since a byway headed inland from here.

The Swale between Faversham and Conyer

A short distance passed this I soon passed another derelict old wooden jetty.

The Swale between Faversham and Conyer

But this was the last thing of much interest ahead for a while. I now put my head down and picked up the pace a bit because there was little to see apart from the waters of the Swale to my right and marshes to my left and the path was flat and easy. I did pass a slightly muddy beach at one point though.

The Swale between Faversham and Conyer

In a little over a mile I had the remains of another island, Fowley Island, between me and the Isle of Sheppey.

Conyer Creek

I could not find out much about this island other than it is a nature reserve and the public are not permitted to visit. In any case it is almost entirely marsh land and with no buildings, it did not look very interesting.

Just passed this it was time to head inland yet again – another creek to get around. This one is Conyer Creek. The map again suggested derelict industry on this side of the creek but I didn’t notice it. Instead I passed a pleasant looking pub again and a large basing packed with boats.

Conyer Creek

Conyer Creek

It was quite a sight, with boats of all sizes and colours, a mass of mast and gleaming wood!

The path went around the back of the creek and marina and returned to the western bank of the creek to head back to the shore. It turned out to be a rather pretty creek, nicer than I had imagined.

Conyer Creek

Conyer Creek

Back on the coast I could again see Fowley Island, now becoming more distant and the low hills of Sheppey on the opposite banks.

Conyer Creek

Ahead I could see the twin bridges that connect the mainland with the Isle of Sheppey, growing gradually larger. In fact at the time of writing the new bridge was yet to open, it opened a little over a week after I did this walk.

The Swale

I was getting really tired now, so my pace was slowing. I think this is the longest coast walk I had done at the time. I soon reached the sight of another old ferry. This is the Elmley Ferry, though the village it once served no longer exists and the ferry has long since ceased. In fact there was a couple more shipwrecks here (there seem to be a lot in Kent!) and I did wonder if these were the old ferry boats that had been left here to rot away.

Ruined boats beside the Swale

Inland I had more ponds, the nearest marked as a disused Oyster Pond with lakes further south part of the Little Murston Nature Reserve.

The Swale

I was now nearing the end of the walk, at Sittingbourne and so had one more creek to follow to head into Sittingbourne. This is Milton Creek. On the other side of the estuary I could see hills, but this is not natural I believe it’s a rubbish dump, now grassed over.

Milton Creek, Sittinbourne

Just round the corner for this was more heavy industry. This is the large paper mill at Kemlsey Down, and it’s not pretty.

Kemsley Down Paper Mill

Soon my side of the estuary had become industrial, too. In fact it is no longer necessary to head all the way into Sittingbourne. Just ahead there is now a road crossing the creek, much further north than the town centre. This was opened in 2012, but it didn’t exist when I walked here.

Just past this bridge I head to leave the edge of the creek to head inland through the industry. It was an unpleasant walk along a busy road through a horrible industrial area. At least there was a pavement, but there was no more coast to see as I headed through more than a mile of industrial estate. It was a relief to be able to turn left and reach the railway station, where I could drive home. Sittingbourne was not somewhere I cared to linger!

I enjoyed the first part of this walk, helped by the fine weather. But as it progressed I got a bit bored because the raised sea-bank path alongside marsh went on for miles and miles and was not very varied. Despite this several of the creeks where quite pretty and it was also a very peaceful walk. However the last mile and a half was grim, through the industrial streets of Sittingbourne, not somewhere I was looking forward to coming back to.

Here are details of the public transport needed for this walk. Trains run up to 5 times per hour between Faversham and Sittingbourne taking a little under 10 minutes.

Trains are operated by South Eastern Railway and Sittingbourne and Faversham are served by the London St Pancras – Faversham/Ramsgate high speed trains (twice per hour), London Victoria to Ramsgate trains (hourly), and London Victoria to Dover trains (twice per hour). Between them these trains provide 5 trains per hour Monday – Saturday. There are 3 trains per hour on Sundays. All these trains are listed in the London and Tonbridge to Medway, Sittingbourne, Sherness, Faversham, Dover and Ramsgate timetable.

Here are the complete set of photos for this walk : Main Link | Slideshow.

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2 Responses to 152. Faversham to Sittingbourne

  1. Ah yes, decaying boats, endless marsh wall, and the grotty outskirts of Sittingbourne… but also lovely Faversham and pretty ships. I remember the relief when I reached Whitstable and could, finally, put the marshes behind me.

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