Whitstable to Birchington-On-Sea 25.07.12
Arriving late in Whitstable I scuttle around for provisions and a hat – it is going to be a very hot day and I will be walking into the sun. Walking quickly through the bustling harbour with its tempting sea food stalls I follow the seafront promenade feeling a bit self-conscious in my leather boots among the flip-flops, sundresses and swimsuits heading down the sand spit to paddle and fish.
Up on the horizon a flock of kites dance merrily in the sky but my enchantment is suddenly broken by a faint boom which stills the air. Is it a gun? A bomb? And from where? The Olympic site in London?
I am to hear the same sound twice more as I pound the concrete of the sea wall all the way to Herne Bay with its neat garish flower beds, colourful beach huts and obese holidaymakers, spilling over the side of their deckchairs.
After resisting the inviting sight of the glassy sea water for hours I finally give in to temptation and find a quiet spot to swim. Floating in the cold, soft waves I stretch my aching toes and sunburnt thighs in the salty water.
From there the path leads upwards onto a broad grassy lane on top of the cliffs, the perfume of the wild flowers rising up to greet me, the corn fields of Kent on my right and the bright blue sea on my left.
In the distance I see the two towers of Reculver perched on the cliff edge. Once a Roman fort, then a monastery and before it succumbed to the sea, a parish church. For me they mean a cup of tea.
Refreshed I continue east on yet another sea wall that will burn my feet, ejecting me at Minnis Bay and Birchington. Reluctantly I squeeze into the packed noisy train from Margate back to London.