Another Sunday afternoon, another river walk. We tried this walk a few years ago, but were beaten back by a crumbling towpath and overgrowth. After hearing the path had been rebuilt and cleared, we decided to give the Allington to Aylesford section of the River Medway a visit yesterday. It was overcast, but not at all cold, so we set off in jeans and t-shirts after giving Polly and Betty a fun run in the local open space nature reserve first ... one thing about goldies, they love to swim and chase birds, so if you fancy a peaceful stroll, river walks are safest undertaken on leads after they've had a good run!
Just down the road from the nature reserve is this pretty building, which I think was the gatehouse for Allington Castle (discreetly tucked away around the corner) I might be wrong though.
We crossed Allington Lock on the footbridge and although it was wrench, passed our favourite little coffee 'n cake haunt 'The Little Old Tollhouse' (they do great panini's too!) without stopping. Then it was up and over the main bridge, pausing to take a quick snap of the boats up river as I went, before turning away from the path into Maidstone and and heading towards the village of Aylesford instead.
There has been quite a bit of work undertaken along the riverbank since last we tried to access this path, so we had no problems toddling along with our girls on Sunday. Polly loves a walk with Dad, lead or no lead, so she was content to trot along by his side, walking beautifully to heel all the way. Little Betty on the other hand, was overexcited and anxious about the new route, so very distracted. She forgot her manners and pulled me all the way to Aylesford!
This walk isn't what I'd call pretty, but it is reasonably interesting if you don't mind a more industrial view of the river. It's also not the most peaceful section of river to walk as the M20 crosses it. Still, at least it was what you might term colourful!
Along the way we saw ponies, cows and sheep, as well as long stretches of imposing steel fencing, leaving us in no doubt that once the river would once have been an important element of industrial life in Aylesford. I'll spare you the photos of grey perimeter fencing protecting stacks of rubber tyres and the like - yawn!
Eventually we arrived at 'The Old Bridge at Aylesford'. It's a very pretty spot but to be absolutely honest, can be a bit pongy thanks to a sewer on the other side of the river!
Anyway, here is the bridge in all its fourteenth century magnificence. We decided to take a wander around the village before looking for a return path on the far side of the river.
We mooched around St Peter and St Paul's, a beautiful Norman church and very much part of our recent family history, as my niece was married here a few years ago and my Great nieces were both baptised here, the youngest in August this year.
It was lovely to wander quietly around the Church without being togged up to the nines for a change!
My family all togged up on my Great Niece's Christening Day.
Anyway, that's enough talk of family celebrations, we should get on with our walk!
So, as I was saying, we wandered around the old village, tightly packed with pretty medieval houses mingled among newer buildings ... it certainly has charm in places, but is primarily a thriving residential area.
And of course, no village would be complete without a public house or two, but we resisted the temptation for a swift half as we passed 'The Chequers' and headed back towards the old bridge.
A quick stop in one of the passing places on the bridge (I wonder what they are called? I'm sure they must have a proper name!) to record our visit, before a spot of detective work to fathom out how to make our way home to Allington.
It didn't take long to work out that if we turned left and crossed the road, we could pick up a footpath sign and follow the river back on the far side of the river. By this time I was happy to hand my little steam engine over to my husband for our return journey!
And the return journey was a more scenic affair. Polly was delighted to be granted off lead privileges across a field running alongside a fenced railway track and I popped her lead back on at the far side of the field because I wasn't sure what lay beyond ...
As it turned out, it was a good call as we found ourselves very near to the motorway (and another fine example of local artwork!)
There was nothing for it other than tackle the high level bridge across the busy M20. I was so proud of Polly as she trotted calmly by my side, walking high over noisy speeding traffic below. Our 'Real Life' obedience training sessions have really paid off!
The rest of the walk was along a narrow, fenced pathway which ran along the railway line and behind an industrial estate through dark woodland, so I didn't bother with my camera until, after a round walk of almost six kilometres, we suddenly popped out onto Castle Road, only a few yards from where we had left our car, ten and a half thousand steps earlier!
So that was our Sunday walk. Not necessarily the prettiest scenery, but pleasant in places and it was interesting to see what happens along our local riverbank. Good exercise for two fifty somethings too!