The park has one of Britain's earliest and the only remaining open air, riverside, saltwater pool in Kent. There are numerous walking paths here and all of them were busy, as were the areas where people could sit and congregate.
The Strand was initially developed around an outdoor pool as a leisure park in the early 1920's, with additional facilities added during the years of the Second World War as more people holidayed at home. There have been numerous redevlopments since. Nowadays, the area caters for a range of leisure, sports and cultural activities. It was an interesting walk, crossing along the front of the park on the river front, such a diverse crowd across the age groups, with a surprising number of people taking advantage of the walking paths. Not quite sure what I expected but certainly not the number of people there were enjoying the fresh air and activity. As usual when you walk with a large rucksack, lots of people were interested in what I was doing and wanted to stop and talk. It is always nice to be polite, but I also need to make headway, hence I carry a business card with the blog address so that people who are interested can visit when they get home and I can move on relatively quickly without seeming to be too rude.
At the end of this short section there was another short section of road walking, passing Otterham House and Horsham Farm before striking out cross-country again at a corner on the road. This short section of country walking was across arable land, with whatever crop had been planted already harvested; it looked from the stubble like it had been a cereal crop of some kind, inplaces clearly hay. I crossed land given over to orchards of various kinds including apples, pears and cherries, heading for the village of Wetham Green. Exiting on the outskirts of Wetham, turn left and after a very short section on the road, taking a right to head off again through a number of orchards, including a cherry orchard which looked like it had been allowed to run down. Around the bottom of the trees long grass concealed the trunk and the connecting pathways that criss-crossed the orchard were weed ridden and generally overgrown, while the trees were laden with cherries that I presumed nobody would pick! Did I or did I not?
Exiting on to the road at the edge of Ham Green Farm I took a wrong turn and headed left instead of right. Fortunately (and with the assistance of a local farmer), I had not gone too far before I realised my mistake. But given that I had actually stopped at the junction to consult the map, it was a clear indication of my tiredness that I had still transposed left for right. Before getting back on route I had a conversation with the farmer who grew various fruits in the area, including cherries which he told me they would be harvesting in about a week. We discussed the recent European referendum, including the consequences of it for people like him who employed large numbers of migrant labour all year round. He noted the difficulties he had in convincing British people to take on these jobs and he was not confident about the future after we have left the EU. Who will harvest the fruit after Brexit?
Back on the seawall, it was nice to get back to long grass and wild flowers, butterflies and bees. Despite growing tiredness I could still take the time to enjoy beautiful English countryside. During my sojourn on the seawall, particularly on the latter part, I met a few people walking out from Lower Halstow and stopped to pass the time of day with them. With the mudflats to my left and wooded land to my right, despite my increasing tiredness the walk was a joy and delight and I stopped here just to listen to the bees and enjoy the sun on my face. The public footpath weaves its way down the bay, at one point going through the shipyard at Twinney Wharf and continuing on down to the wharf at Lower Halstow.
I noticed an article a couple of days ago in the Guardian that a painting by Titian, of St Margaret escaping from the mouth of Satan, has come on to the market at auction. The painting is reputed to have been used by Oliver Cromwell to pay off the debts of Charles I and was given to a plumber in lieu of payment. It is expected to fetch somewhere in the region of £1.5 - 2.00 million. So, if you are wondering what to do with this week's pocketmoney....
Following another short section of road walking, including taking some really sharp corners where the hedgerow is right up to the edge of the road and you really are duelling with the traffic, I was on to a long cross-country section across arable land, which included actually walking through the middle of the crops, with the road continuing to run to my left. On the other side of the road I passed another peninsula on which Barksore Marshes is to be found but, with one road in and one road out, I did not see the sense in going out on it. Instead I carried on across the fields, eventually joining up with another path that took me back up to cross the road at Raspberry Hill Lane where I had a short double back on myself before finding the public footpath that would take me in to the last peninsula of the day and my eventual campsite for the night.
Dropping the rucksack, the first thing I did was to get out the burner and brew up a cup of sweet coffee and just rested against the seawall for half an hour until I had the energy to put up the tent. Tent up, sleeping mat and sleeping bag out I made a cold repast with more sweet coffee and lying down in the tent reviewed the days' adventure. The beginning of the day saw me pass the two hundred and fifty mile mark and as I lay in the tent I felt every one of them. My intention had been to rest and get up to watch the sun set over the Sheppey Crossing but I was soon sound asleep, only waking up in the early hours of the morning cold and slightly damp to actually get in the sleeping bag and off to that deep sleep of exhaustion where dreams have no currency.