Sunday, 27 September 2009

West Hythe to Dover - 26 September 2009 - 15 Miles

If you are traveling to Westenhanger by rail, make sure you travel in the one of the front four carriages! I was ready to leave the train as it stopped, but the door remained resolutely closed when I pressed the button. After a short stay, the train moved of so I chased the guard down the train. He was very apologetic as, when he checked my ticket earlier, he failed to point out that I was in the fifth carriage. The journey thus far had been unremarkable, leaving Birmingham International at 6:20, taking the tube from Euston to Victoria via Embankment as the Victoria Line was closed. (It always is when I travel across London).

Two miles down the line from Westenhanger at Sandling (1009), I commenced my cycle ride to Dover, first negotiating minor roads and cycle lanes to reach the Royal Military Canal at West Hythe (1033). This second largest military installation in England (the largest is Hadrians Wall) makes for a very pleasant journey on foot or, for today, on bike.

I soon reached Hythe (1052) which is an attractive, well maintained, bustling seaside town. A particular feature is the town fountain mouted into the wall next to the main road. Unfortunately, too many people were crowding round it to allow a picture to be taken. In these days of the "Nanny State" and health and safety rules, the presence of a communal drinking fountain must be rare.

Leaving Hythe along the promenade, I cycled several miles in to Sandgate (1120) which was rather unremarkable except for a few interesting buildings and the remains of Sandgate Castle.

Folkestone (1135) has clearly seen better days as some attractive old buildings are rapidly becoming crumbling ruins. It has a lot going for it with the harbour, funicular railway and a quaint cobbled road by the quay. More could and should be done to restore this place.

From the harbour, the way rises steeply via some steps at the end of the promenade and the road onto Creteway Down above Folkestone. The route takes the traveler past Martello Towers and the site of a Roman Villa. Fine views of Folkestone and beyond caon be found at Creteway Down.

The route then descends into Dover via the Battle of Britain Monument at Capel-le Ferne (1300) and a defunct army training ground complete with defensive blockhouses. On the descent into Dover I (or rather my bicycle) suffered a puncture and a few minutes were lost while I changed the tube. Dover was the same busy port I visited back in June, so, having rested by the quayside for a few minutes, I made my way to the local Wetherspoon Pub (1421). There I had a sausage, chips and beans washed down with a pint of guest ale.

I caught an earlier train to Victoria, so I was able to take my time cycling to Euston across London via Buckingham Palace, St James's Park, Trafalgar Square and Chinatown. At Euston, I enjoyed a well earned baguette and latte before boarding the train home.

See the pictures

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