Thursday, 29 January 2009

Saxon Shore Way Day 9 Ham Street - Rye

Kenardington Church
It was now 1st September and I hadn’t been out for a couple of months due to the hot weather. Today was a greyish sort of day, much cooler than recent days and a perfect one for walking, although perhaps not for picture taking. I was by now only half way through the scheduled number of days required to complete the hike and this appeared to be the shortest section left on paper so I thought for that reason I would do this today so that I could limber up a bit before the longer sections to come later in the autumn.

Appledore Mound
Ham Street was a village by now well known to me. It was my third visit in a year, and a very convenient staging post thanks to its station. This time I would be heading vaguely south west on my walk and across a much bleaker part of Romney Marsh. The first part of the walk involved traversing some fairly uninteresting fields to Appledore. The only places of notes on the way were Warehone Church and Kenardington Church, two fairly lonely churches deep within the rolling countryside that marks the area to the north of the Military Canal visited in the last section. There was also a large mound of earth, that although not marked on the map could easily be a burial mound.

Appledore is a very pleasant village, strung out along a marshland road. On this early September day, it was fairly dead and this added to its air of remoteness from the rest of civilisation. I left the village via the old Mill Hill, where although the windmill had long since disappeared, the earthworks required to obtain some height above the flat lands below were still clearly visible.

From here the path joined the side of the Reading Sewer, one of the many drainage ditches that I would be following today. Still surprisingly lush despite the lateness of the season, every now and again the sun tried to pick out some of the attractive underwater plants. It was a contrast to the now empty fields that had had most of their crops removed following harvest time. The path crossed Reading Sewer at Oxney Bridge, a real old relic that replaced an earlier ferry. In fact the tariff for the ferry was still posted on the adjacent pub (called The Ferry, a huge hint perhaps?)

The Ferry Inn
Shortly after the path took a right angled turn and headed south towards the small village of Stone-in-Oxney. The isle of Oxney is no longer an island of course, with the river that caused it to be an island being diverted some five miles to the south. However, this area of land still gives the impression of being an island for it is a definite hill among a huge area of flatness. If you trace the contours around in this area it is still possible to imagine that this was once an estuary. The path continues over the hill at Stone and past the very attractive church at the top, presumably sited to ensure that it never flooded.

Oxney Church
At the top of the hill it is possible to make out the old cliffline once again and ahead Rye comes into view for the first time. The path immediately drops down the other side and at the bottom of the hill the path meets the Royal Military Canal once again and continues along its side for the rest of the journey into Rye. On the whole this is a fairly uninteresting section of walk, but is punctuated by a couple of features. The path crosses from Kent into East Sussex and as it does so, merges with the Sussex Border Path, a long distance hike that follows the whole border from the far end of West Sussex to this point. Once at river/ canal level there is little to see apart from the town of Rye looming in the distance and dominated by St Mary’s Church at the very top of the hill. Over in the distance the Pontin’s holiday camp at Camber Sands is a slightly incongruous sight, but otherwise the scene is very much of human attempts to drain the landscape through various channels and locks.
Rye Landgate
Rye itself is a very attractive old historic town and train timetables allowed me to spend some time there soaking up a little of the atmosphere. By now it was lunchtime and so I availed myself. Typically the weather had perked up considerably by now and the cloud of the morning had largely disappeared. Rye was a very interesting conclusion to a fairly disappointing section of the walk, with few memorable features, no sea and uninteresting terrain. The atmosphere of this side of the marsh was a lot more remote feeling than the last section. It did prove to be a relatively easy section to get back into the swing of walking ready for the autumn season.

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