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Jay Walking

Folkestone to Eastbourne: Sandling to Rye

It was the May Bank Holiday so there were more trains leaving from St Pancras but I still managed to waste a lot of time getting down to Sandling. Trying to use the period return ticket I’d brought last week to get back to Sandling, I discovered that it was a day return, this was despite checking when I brought it. The train was already in the platform but I had to buy another ticket, I asked for a ticket to Rye but got given one for Wye, so I had to get that one changed and by the time I’d replaced it the train had left. I was pretty miffed by now and went on the platform and got on the next train to Ashford International, only to discover I was on the wrong train and I’d missed the correct one. I was seriously thinking of going home but forced the issue by getting on a train to Ebbs Fleet where I could wait for the next one for Ashford. Eventually I arrived in Ashford to find that I had a 45 minute wait for the train to Sandling, what should have been an hour and a half journey had taken nearly 3 hours but I managed to arrive at 10 am.

Setting off from Sandling I quickly got back to the place last week where I realised my phone was missing and continued along the Saxon Shore Way heading off across a ploughed field, walking on a bearing to a road which I walked along for a kilometre or so before taking a bridleway that headed of to the pretty village of Lympne along with it’s castle, I was unable to take any photos as the sun was in the wrong part of the sky and I headed though the village and down a muddy path toward the Royal Military Canal, past the remains of a Roman fort. There were a fair few people around walking along the canal or up to the village of Lympne but I headed west along the canal. The path was easy but there was not much to see as there is a small screen of trees obscuring the views of the canal, once I came to a bridge I switched to the other side of the canal where there are fields and a small permissive path and walked along there. It was starting to get warm but was generally overcast as rain had been forecast for later in the day.

Lympne town sign
A stretch of the Royal Military Canal

The Royal Military Canal was built to stop an invasion by Napoleon, work starting in 1804, but the construction took so long that the threat from the French had gone by the time it was finish in 1809. It stretches for 45 kilometres from Hythe to around Rye and was built in a serious of straight sections slightly set off from each other allowing cannons enfilade the next section. There are a lot of information boards along the canal giving details of its construction and uses. I intended to walk all the way along the canal to Rye rather than rejoin the Saxon Shore Way which would have added extra kilometres to an already long day. As I continued along the canal the amount of people lessened and the amount of sheep increased.

About 12 am after reaching the bridge next to Hurst Poultry Farm, I crossed back to the other side of the canal and took a 10 minute, break the sky had become worryingly cloudy and the wind was picking up. Setting off again I decided to see how fast I was walking, as it was around 3 kilometres to the bridge at Bilsington, which would give me a good section to time. Once I got there I check the time to find it had taken nearly exactly 30 minutes, so around 6 kilometres or 3.3 miles an hour, which was sort of the speed I expected, it gave me hope that I could make to Rye today, rather than having to stop at a station short of it. I kept on walking, switching sides of the canal occasionally, I met very few people, a couple of bird watcher and a few families out walking their dogs. The scenery was fairly consistent, the flat Romney Marshes on the seaward side of the canal and slightly hilly to the right, the wind was picking up and occasionally was quite strong but the sun occasionally poked its head out from behind the clouds.

The end of the Royal Military Canal

Around 2:30 in the afternoon I saw a wooden mile marker giving the distance to Rye as 8 miles (around 12.5km), this filled me with joy as I knew I could make the distance in the time remaining, even though I was feeling a bit tired. I’d seen a few of this way markers before but was unable to read them as they were fairly rotten, when I came to the 7 mile marker I had a rest for about 20 minutes, figuring I’d be in Rye in about 2 hours, the sun had come out and the weather was warm. I continued on passing through near the town of Appledore. A few kilometres later the Saxon Shore Way joined up with the canals route, the end of the canal was marked by a large lock/weir and the route continued along the east bank of the River Rother. Rye was insight now and I eventually made it into town around 5:30 pm, I was pretty tired but pleased having done around 32 kilometres in 7 hours, including an hour or so of rests.

Gate House at Rye
The end of the Royal Military Canal