Bredgar on the North Downs overlooks the Medway estuary and the town of Sittingbourne and Milton Regis. A typical cross roads village Bredgar has a thriving community with a post office, a shop and cafe, The Sun pub and a village pond. Many people pass through on their way to and from Sittingbourne and Hollingbourne but if they were to stop and park at the pub; put on their walking shoes they would find a pleasant little place to spend an afternoon.
Lunch at The Sun or pop into the cafe attached to village shop for views, on warm days of the pond, and wander around to view the Tudor houses, the old Chantry House and cottage and the magnificent church. The wander around, is helped by the map on the board close to the shop marking out the footpaths. These are signposted anyway but it is useful to have a good road map with the paths marked on it.
This day, 19th November, was a warm, sunny day with soft blue sky virtually cloudless and a haze covering the distant estuary and its islands. On days such as these the industrial buildings of Grain, the town and even the motorway become all part of the scenery. The sun slanting at a low angle casts long shadows on the fields which seem to want nothing better than grow green and bright.
We walked toward Tunstall and took a footpath past the old Policeman’s houses on the
corner and headed across the fields to the motorway. Where the path goes underneath to an orchard there is another probably leading to Rodmersham. We walked up to Bexon lane and right back toward the village to a path that took us across a large field.
The view of the village was enhanced by the late autumn leaves still on the trees lit by the sun. Wonderful. We cut across the field behind the scout camp, passing through the Arboreum with memorial oaks. These planted in 2005 to commemorate the 1805 Trafalgar battle (Don’t let on to the French will you) and are part of a collection of trees. Nice.
From there we stopped to look at the houses at Bexon Manor and afterwards walked along Lime Kiln Lane until we saw that we would have to walk much further than we wanted to and turned back to walk the road back to Bredgar.
Crossing the fields to the village we arrived at The Sun for a pint and a cup of coffee. There were plenty of customers enjoying their lunch which is a good sign. As home was not far away we decided on a lunch there to allow my sister to organise an evening with food around a bonfire. As that has nothing to do with this tale I will continue.
The views we had from our slightly elevated position near the Motorway on the Sittingbourne side were enough to see across the estuary but on the walk back although we seemed to be not much higher we could see across to the Isle of Sheppey. In the distance, even beyond there we could see the Isle of Grain and the installations there; the chimney stack of the power station being dominant. Further, occluded by the misty haze was Southend across the Thames. Against the soft blue of the autumn sky and the hazy clouds the evidence of our industry looked almost pleasant.
Walking on the downs in autumn can be a cold and unpleasant experience – and even colder in the winter – unless you are well wrapped up.
As casual walkers we do get into warm gear with the idea that if it gets too warm we can discard layers or add them if it best cold. The result is that on some days we can be too warm and find that even on a November day we are working up a sweat.
This day was no exception and we both felt overdressed. However, warm as it was we were aware that winter is on its way; the trees dropping leaves and the sun dipping low fairly early and in the shade it was quite chilly. It was quite a surprise to find a blossom on a blackberry bramble, old fruit still edible and fruit forming. This on a south facing hedge. Later, close to home, we saw flowers and buds on a gorse bush. Strange days.