North Downs Way

Start 09/07/2012 Farnham

Finish 18/07/2012 Boughton Lees

Distance 153miles/246km

Following completion of the Pembrokeshire Coast Path, my fifth National Trail, I was keen to return to the South West Coast Path, which had provided so many amazing days in 2004 during the Island Limits Challenge. I was also eager to complete as many National Trails as I could, and wanted to do another really long walk. So I devised a route that would include three National Trails. I started with the North Downs Way.

I found the section between Farnham and Rochester to be my least favourite part of the entire walk. There is a near constant drone of high speed traffic as it passes close to Motorways, and with urban communities not too far away, there was abundant litter and fly-tipping hotspots along the route.

Heading south east into the Kent countryside, the path became a much more pleasant experience. I had camped wild for the first five nights, and with some wet weather along the way, was ready for a shower and needed to do some laundry. At Dunn Street I received a warm welcome from the owners of the campsite, and as I later called at the house to hand over my smelly smalls, a familiar face appeared at the door. An ex-girlfriend of one of my oldest friends!

A few days later, I was strolling around Canterbury during the early evening, when I heard a voice, "I don't believe it. I don't believe it." For a number of years, at the beginning of the ski season in December, I had looked after a family, based in Kenya, stopping off for a break in Switzerland, on their way to spend Christmas in Dublin. And there they were, Dad and the two boys, on a whistle-stop tour of the area to look at potential college courses for the eldest.

On finishing the trail at Boughton Lees, I made my way along the Greensand Way to join the Royal Military Canal Path, then onto Rye to follow the 1066 Country Walk for a rendezvous with the South Downs Way.

 

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