Even though we are living through the most stringent restrictions ever we are trying to make the most of being able to get out and walk every day. The current UK government restrictions allow us to exercise daily so being a few hundred yards from the coast here in Herne Bay has been great.
The weather hasn’t been brilliant but what can you seriously expect in the first two weeks of January? Very cold and misty rain every other day but that hasn’t damped our enthusiasm at all. With hats, coats, gloves, and more layers than that we head out each morning to face the elements.
North Kent Coast
It may not get the plaudits that other coastlines in England regularly receive but Kent has some of the most picturesque bays and lovely beaches all around it’s north and east coasts. From Whitstable along to Herne Bay through to Margate, then around to Broadstairs and Dover it’s a wonderful coastline to walk, cycle and explore. So much to see and very hike-friendly if that’s really a word.
Around 4 miles east from Herne Bay is the historic village of Reculver with it’s two thousand year old towers and Roman fort. Now that sounds like a decent JWalking expedition doesn’t it? We thought so and waited for some decent wintery weather before setting off.
Sounds like a spooky old house in a Nigel Hinton novel doesn’t it? Actually, as mentioned above, Reculver is an old Roman settlement originally called Regulbium. The way it rises from the coast and sits in the mist is magnetic and your eyes are constantly drawn to those two towers.
The coastal path rose from the beach to Bishopstone Cliffs Nature Reserve and lead us onto Reculver Country Park as we approached the roman fort. Obviously the coffee shop and museum were all closed up due to Covid restrictions but that made it quieter which was fine by us.
Reculver Roman Towers
Reculver actually sits on the edge of the Wantsum Channel, which is the river that originally separated the Isle of Thanet from the rest of Kent. It was a major shipping route for the Romans but was silted up in the Middle Ages leaving just the River Wantsum which is little more than a ditch now.
The Roman settlement was built in 43AD which makes it just under 2000 years old! Difficult to imagine isn’t it? A whole Roman community living right there for over 300 years, proper history right under your feet.
The most interesting story here for me though was the fact that in 1943 the prototypes of the bouncing bombs which subsequently bombed the Ruhr dams in Germany were tested at Reculver. Invented and developed by Barnes Wallace, tested by Lancaster bombers of 617 squadron, and made famous in the epic ‘The Dambusters‘ film it was a major operation of the Second World War.
After a bit of a wander around with Jo drawn to every plaque on the site we turned for the three mile walk back along the cliff tops to Herne Bay. There are a couple of caravan parks over here but we weren’t sure if we’d want to book a holiday as it really is remote and out of the way but I guess some people like that.
I think we may have been the only couple walking that didn’t have a dog, so many dogs around these days aren’t there? I’m sure the dogwalkers eyed us suspiciously wondering why the hell we were out walking on a cold wet day when we were NOT walking a dog!
Reculver Portrait Bench
A little way along Bishopstone Cliffs there is a fascinating sculpture. Created as part of a bigger Portrait Bench project (Portrait Bench) this one features three two dimensional characters. A Roman woman, an Oyster fisherman, and a Dambuster pilot. Voted for by the local community they all specifically link to the history of the area. Particularly the pilot who was based on Bill Ottley from Herne Bay who sadly lost his life on the Dambusters raid.
A fabulous walk then, roughly 8 or 9 miles there and back in the early morning mist but with astounding views and history to keep us going.
12/01 – 16/01/2021