An easy walk alongside the Great Stour River, finishing in Sandwich, and enjoying several sightings of Kingfishers.

Date walked: 31st October 2014

Distance: about 10 miles

Map used: OS Explorer 150: Canterbury and the Isle of Thanet

**********

A bus from the city centre dropped me off at Upstreet, where I finished the last walk. A short stroll down  Grove Ferry Road  took me to the bridge over the Great Stour at Grove Ferry. It is here that I picked up the Saxon Shore Way.

The river was lined with moored boats.

The Great Stour at Grove Ferry, photographed from The Saxon Shore way by Charles Hawes

Clearly a popular point to park up

 Most of these will be permanently moored here, but in the summer months their owners no doubt provide good custom for the The Grove (pantry Pub and Inn) which is on the far side of the bridge and has a nice pig in the garden.

Pig in the garden of  The Grove at Grove Ferry, photographed from The Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

Any pig-lovers out there who want to venture a breed?

Half-a-mile later of riverside walking later, at Red Bridge, I failed to pick up my intended route, which gave me a further half-a-mile of road walking until I reached the canalised Little Stour at Blue Bridge (neither bridges living up to their name to my eye).

The Little Stour near Canterbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

I reckon this has been straightened

It was a popular stretch for Swans, who like a quiet life.

Swans on the Little Stour near Canterbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

This pose of pairs of swans looks very familiar

And it was very quiet for the next mile or so.

A little way on, a large pumping station has a gantry across the river with a cage that was being dropped into the weedy water, rotated,  and fished out again with a mouthful of weeds which were then pulled onto the land to be dumped.

Weed removal at pumping station on the Little Stour, photographed by Charles Hawes

We should install a small version across our pond at home.

I crossed over to the other side of the river here and was very taken by a line of Poplars that marked the edge of a small wood.

Poplars on the Little Stour near Canterbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

You can’t have enough reflection pics

A mile later at the wonderfully named Plucks Gutter is a pub and another pumping station, though I managed to censor both from my camera in favour of some boats….

Boats on the Little Stour near Canterbury, photographed by Charles Hawes

….and a solitary angler.

Angler on the river Stour, Kent, photographed from the Great Stour Way by Charles Hawes

Fishing seems to me to be a good way of getting cold, bored and hungry

Besides, I don’t do lunch-time drinking unless with Bob, who insists.

My map and Wikipedia seem to disagree about naming but according to them The Little Stour joins the Great Stour here and heads north to Reculver and the Great Stour becomes the Stour. That’s quite enough Stours. I stayed on the version heading east.

The next few miles by the river, felt very remote, though the effect was somewhat disturbed by a large crop sprayer that passed by on the far bank.

Crop sprayer on the Great Stour, photgraphed from The Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

Spraying crops in October?

Overall, though it was very peaceful and I was delighted  to see a blue flash of a Kingfisher; I hadn’t seen one for years. “Seen ” is almost the wrong word; it was really in the corner of my eye for a split second but was, nevertheless, unmistakable.

The River Stour near Sandwich photographed from The saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

I know this isn’t a Kingfisher pic but it was here, honest

With no obvious attachment to any property, the path passed by a short line of willows, where several signs announced the privacy of the place …..

Sign on the banks of the Stour, photographed from the Saxon Shore way by Charles Hawes

NO FUN

……and where the lush grass was obviously under management.

Bank of the Stour near Sandwich, photographed from The Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

And suddenly it all looks a bit gardened

This was also a stretch where the mooring of boats is possible, so perhaps someone was  protecting their commercial interests by their aggressive signage.

The River Stour near Sandwich, photographed from The Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

gratuitous reflection pic

Another Kingfisher swept by, this time affording me at least a seconds view of its dead-straight flight close to the river’s surface. And shortly afterwards two together shot by, making it a personal record for the number of these special birds seen on a single day.

On the other side of the river I saw black car and a man who seemed to be throwing stuff out of plastic buckets.

Laying food to attract ducks on the banks of the Stour near Sandwich, photographed fromn the Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

Was he up to no good?

At first I felt suspected him of dumping something noxious, but he drove off and stopped again a few hundred yards further on and did some more tipping from his buckets. At a bend a little further on he was close enough for me to holler an enquiry.

“Duck food – for a shoot” he hollered back. I guess they intend to shoot the ducks in the air, rather than on the ground, though I don’t suppose it makes much difference to the ducks.

A railway bridge and a single wind turbine next to two tall radio masts marked a change of character of the walk.

Wind turbine next to the river Stour, near Sandwich, photographed from The Saxon Shore way by Charles Hawes

No cause for complaint?

I felt ready for this  change of scene, the built environment being photographically more stimulating than the river banks; and besides, I’d seen my quota of Kingfishers.

View under a bridge over the Stour near Canterbury, photgraphed from the Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

The river’s beginning to look a bit murky

The “natural” river managed a stunning finish, though, with a swathe of tall grasses reflected beautifully in the low sun.

The river Stour near Sandwich, photographed from The Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

I said you can’t get enough of reflections, didn’t I?

The man -made environment began to assert itself, starting with churning up my path into a thick squelchy mud that had me hopping from side to side to find firmer ground.

The Saxon Shore wWay near Sandwich, Kent, photographed by Charles Hawes

YUK!

Over on the far side of the river, a rusted metal cube had me wondering about its original function.

Rusted steel structure on the banks of the River Stour, photographed from The Saxon Shore way by Charles Hawes

Suggestions?

It also gave me a great shot.

Rusted metal building by the Stour near Sandwich, photographed from The Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

Perfected, as ever, in Lightroom with my instruction to correct both horizontal and vertical lines.

A little further on a massive building was being fed electricity by three pylons.

Electicity pylons on the banks of the Stour at Sandwich, photographed by Charles Hawes

Is this just a sub-station or a power-hungry factory?

Suburbia was perfectly represented by a neatly tended garden and a white-box house next to some ramshackle buildings.

Prperty on the banks of the Stour in Sandwich, photographed from The Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

The washing line, shed and parked up caravan making it just so.

With people come signs and warnings.

Warning sign over the River Stour at sandwich, photographed from The Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

 

Warning sign over the River Stour at sandwich, photographed from The Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

Warning notice on the River Stour at Sandwich, photographed from The Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

And the local Youth make their own dazzling contributions.

Graffiti on building near Sandwich, photographed from The Saxon Shore Way by Charles Hawes

Love the colours

 

The river  had turned due south by now and met the railway line. According to my map the remains of the Roman Fort at Richborough Castle,  was a sling shot away but I saw no invitation to enter and I suspect English Heritage would not have welcomed my scaling its banks from my current location.  I also missed the Roman Amphitheatre, which was the other side of the railway line and also out of sight (I’m kicking myself now that Anne and I did not return to see these places).

So for this last half mile I had to be content with looking at the boats moored to the river banks. That’s when I could see them, as many of the moorings here are permanent and the boat dwellers have come up with various ingenious ways of ensuring their privacy.

Sign of gate of mooring on the Stour in Sandwich, photographed from The Saxon Shore way by Charles Hawes

Tongue in cheek or just rude?

 

The saxon Shore way approaching Sandwich, photographed by Charles Hawes

Hedges: a great way of shutting people out

I particularly liked one boat that had a very odd architectural heritage.

Boat moored on the Stour at sandwich, photographed from The Saxon Shore way by Charles Hawes

Armour plated tug meets Grand Designs?

Repairs to riverbanks and the fencing for the railway meant that for the very last part I was corralled between metal mesh fences….

Repairs to the banks of the river Stour at sandwich, photographed by Charles Hawes

….before emerging onto a minor suburban road in Sandwich, where a bus stop informed me that I should only have 10 minutes to wait for a bus back to Canterbury. How neat is that!

{ 4 comments }

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Copyright Charles Hawes (2012)