Monday, 1 September 2014

North Downs Way - Summary

Firstly, it was a nice walk. Most of the track was reasonably marked although the north downs way was better than St. Swithuns. We can't control the weather, but fortunately after the first two days we stayed dry which always helps. Disappointingly, accommodation was just as expensive as I feared and even harder to find than I expected. Did not want to prebook as we are never certain how far we want or can walk each day. We therefore tended to look the night before and book something if we found somewhere where we needed it or otherwise wait to the lunch stop to decide the plan. Found we had to use,, as well as search google maps using the terms 'bed and breakfast' and 'hotels' to get a good picture of what was available. There must be a better single source of info!  For the route we used Hampshire county council pack for St. Swithuns which was quite good but had a few glaring errors on the map and description. For the north downs way I used a strip most which was very good. Also used a GPX file for each route which proved invaluable. In sum a good route but not the best. Would not want to repeat it as there are better in the UK. However, more significantly it would have been less expensive overall to fly to Spain to hike as accommodation and food is cheaper and of a higher quality.

30kms and got to Canterbury

Done it!  9 days in total. Luckily, we managed to stay dry on the last day despite the forecast telling us it was going to pour! Good meal at the local Thai restaurant last night. Couldn't eat at The Oak as they don't do food on Sundays (and they call themselves a hotel). A poor hotel at that - very average rooms, very tired public areas and virtually no customers! Even had to wait around and knock on the door to get breakfast, which was not ready. Glad to leave and get walking. Very nice track today, possibly the best of the route. Nice mature forests ( complete with Ceps), lots if orchards and a lovely lunch on the tweeist of villages called Chilham. In fact it would be a lovely route to follow for a day walk into Canterbury. The city surprised me as I had never been there before and had no prior knowledge about it. It seems to be a very pretty city with lots to see and plenty of good walks around it, inc one along the river compleat with punts!  Got into the cathedral for free as we were pilgrims. They offered for us to stay till evensong at 1730 and were surprised when we declined. Short walk to the station and now we are on the train to Brighton ( and ultimately fareham for mike) having changed at ashford international. Surprisingly, the fare was the same for both of us. Now looking forward to home in a couple of hours.