Today was a day of rain in the morning and a promise of sunshine later. We took Zoid with us although he wasn’t that well, under medication for a problem that may have been created by treatment for another problem. The poor dog was poorly as they say and so we decided to have a look at a church we often passed by – St James at Sheldwich on the A251 from Faversham – and we stopped there for a while.
Zoid walked slowly and had his sniffs but it was obvious he was not well. I took piccies of the church and we wandered rather than walked. The original church was about 900 years old but with additions this one looked quite modern (Victorian) and we loved the churchyard and the views across the downs. The tree line in the distance through the mist and the walks that are offered from the church to a sister church in Badlesmere – a village with a green and a dog friendly pub – with some good walking. Zoid wasn’t up to it so we settled for a quick look and a drive to Chartham to look for the river path that follows the Stour.
The intention of the visit was as much to check the village out as to see where the river path went. Naturally the path follows the river but we needed to know if there was a place where we could lunch and take a dog. We found it.
The river path begins beside the Village Hall and for those who need it there are toilets on the playing fields. The Inn is a short walk up the hill along Rattington Street past the Chartham Paper Mill which is an interesting if somewhat ratty looking building. It looks derelict but it is still operating although enquiries revealed that redundancies are on the cards. The mill once had a terrace of dwellings now disused and fenced off – a sad looking row of barracks-like houses. The mill has a date on the building – 1946 – and it looks as if the houses were built in the same austere style.
We dropped into Chartham and eased through the village stopping briefly at the village hall where parking is a valuable with restrictions – read them – and wanting to explore further we drove past the Chartham Paper Mill and found The Artichoke Inn complete with small car park and a place to take the dog. Nice friendly place with a good menu and a nice drop of Earlybird. We had a discussion about fried worms and chips but fortunately that was not on the menu.
We did a short reccee and discovered a road leading up the hill out to the countryside, there is a public footpath leading to the Stour Valley way which passes through Chartham and joins the river path ( a part of it ) an excellent mix of river walks and across the downs. My sister elected to sit with Zoid in the car when he flagged after a short walk leaving me to explore Chartham.
The village has a green, a great looking church that is active in the community and some wonderful period buildings including a railway signal box and proper crossing gates, the kind you don’t even attempt to drive through.
The treat for me other than being surprised by what the village had to offer was watching a boy and his grandfather feeding the ducks from a platform. The boy was excited and I loved the way the old man held him safe yet allowed him to do the feeding. The ducks, seeing a treat were eager to get to the food and even flew up to take pieces which was fun for the boy and his family and of course me taking the pictures.
However, for the river trip at a later date. We discovered where we could walk from and realised that it is not that far from Canterbury. We can start from Chartham, have a wander around lunch and then we can walk to Canterbury and back. The idea is to explore the Stour and take in the gardens of Canterbury as well as follow the river along its route. After all, the Romans started off from the coast and used the water ways – later the river was a busy waterway – and today we can use or walk alongside it. The beauty of the Stour is that it is an attractive river all the way to its tidal outflow – although at times you have to ignore the awful industrial area around Sandwich – getting there is pretty good.
Chartham village adds a little to that and when we walk along the river path the retailers along the A28 Ashford road hopefully are not part of the view. That we will find out when we take the walk.