Ramble to Rochester
8 people attending
17 places left
Heading south away from the Higham Marshes towards the attractive village of Shorne we will make our way through Cobham Park and Great Wood to the unused Darnley Mausoleum. This once derelict folly is now owned by the National Trust, and the surrounding grassland kept in trim by fearsome looking, but docile, Highland cattle.
Picking up the North Downs Way we will pass through Ranscombe Country Park, on a clear day there are superb views from here of the River Medway and the North Downs beyond.
Crossing the Medway Bridges we will catch our first glimpse of Rochester with its castle and cathedral. It should be pointed out that these bridges also carry the M2, the Eurostar as well as the footway, but it's a trade-off to get a superb view down the River Medway.
On the outskirts of Rochester we will pass by Fort Borstal, a correction centre whose name became a general term for a youth custody establishment. As we near the Cathedral we will catch sight of several handsome buildings, including the elaborate Foord Almshouses.
The walk will end at Rochester Castle, from here you are free to explore the Christmas Market in the grounds of the Castle, the Cathedral, High Street, or head for the pub for some seasonal mulled wine. Charles Dickens took inspiration from several buildings in the High Street, but to the best of my knowledge none are featured in A Christmas Carol.
Image credits: View from North Downs Way near Longhoes Wood and No 150, 152 and 154, Rochester High Street by David Anstiss; Rochester Castle by Paul Gillett; Guildhall Museum, Rochester by Chris Whippet; View from the North Downs Way on the Medway Crossing by Dave Kelly; Rochester Castle: Looking towards the Medway Bridge from the battlements by Michael Garlick; Highland Cattle taken by event leader and contributed to the geograph.org.uk project. All licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0; Rochester cathedral by Gary Ullah licenced under CC BY 2.0; The Darnley Mausoleum by Agw19666 licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0
What to bring
Water: bring at least two litres
Medicines: if you have hay fever, diabetes, minor ailments etc.
Day rucksack: typically 20-30 litres, they are comfortable to wear and allow you to use your arms freely
Boots: waterproof and breathable and designed for hiking, trainers are OK if the ground is dry and there’s little chance of rain
Gaiters: recommended for wet weather or boggy conditions
Socks: proper walking socks will keep your feet dry and help prevent blisters
Layered clothing: lets you quickly adapt to changes in the weather and body temperature. Go for a base layer (vest or t-shirt) and a mid layer (a micro fleece or shirt) and in cooler weather add an outer layer (a windproof jacket or thick fleece)
Trousers: ideally no jeans as they become heavy and cold in the rain, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry and on warm days shorts are OK
Waterproof jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather, breathable fabrics are more comfortable and dry
Gloves: Windproof, or better still, waterproof gloves are the best choice, bring a spare pair if expecting rain
Hat or cap: stay warm in winter and shaded in summer
Sunglasses: for any sunny day, even in winter
Sun cream: can be useful even on cloudy and winter days
Snacks: bring biscuits, energy bars, gels, bananas, chocolate or dried fruit for example and put them somewhere easy to get hold of
Lunch: bring a packed lunch unless otherwise stated
Food & drink
You will need a packed lunch, and plenty of water and snacks to see you through the day; there are no shops or pubs en route. We will stop for a picnic lunch at a suitably scenic spot; for your own comfort you may wish to bring something to sit on.