January, cold and wet, two people full of pud, turkey and chocolates, or at least the effects of such consumption needing a walk to make sure we could still function. The idea was to go to Allington Lock and walk from there along the old towpath toward Maidstone. Instead, we explored downstream from the lock.
The river was full above the lock, the lock operating properly spewed water into the tidal flow, and we walked downstream toward Aylesford remembering walking there years ago. From Maidstone to Allington and the Malta Inn the pathway is good – it goes on up stream past Wateringbury – and notices informed us that the path was under survey for refurbishment.
We gave it a go and reached the area known as The Forstal where the old water works buildings are and from the path was damaged and not negotiable. Ugly back yards of factories dominate and once where the river was used by barges and small boats is now a mess of abandoned berths. Pity. However, we were able to remember the place where our mother and her family once lived. There is a row of cottages, and some around the corner on the old Pottery lane where our family once lived.
The used to be a pub on the corner, it is now a bed and breakfast, where once one of my uncles, or my mother would go and buy a quart of ale for my grandfather. With this he would flood his innards, emulating perhaps the occasional flooding of the Medway, now a tame river with the use of the Allington lock, and good up river management. The river still floods now and then but my grandfather is long gone.
We walked into Aylesford, crossed the river on the old bridge and decided to walk on the opposite side of the river back to Allington. We found the bridle path which leads across the railway track – the track from Strood to Maidstone – and diverged to follow the river side until it curved to our left where our path led across a field, following the railway to where it crossed the M20. This section is noisy but it is necessary to cross the main road by the bridge – and also the railway – to follow a fenced path leading eventually to Allington open space, and hence back to the lock.
It was muddy, the track was interesting because we had not seen that side of the river on foot before, and at first we thought we may have taken the wrong path. There was one path that crossed the railway track and wandered on a lower path to Allington Lock, but by taking the other we discovered a little more than merely a boat yard and the wonderful growth of trees. The open space was wonderful, with people walking their dogs, and a view of the castle as well as the herd of Deer grazing and browsing happily in a riverside paddock.
Afterwards it was refreshment at the Kings Arms in Boxley instead of the Malta Inn where we feel a little uncomfortable with the plastic fantastic decor. The Kings Arms has a pleasant atmosphere and after a cold and muddy walk along the river it was most
The day was cold, and grey which made the river look a dull but as we had the idea to walk along the river anyway that did not detract from the walk, and we agreed that the exercise was good and we got to walk another part of the river. It gets more difficult as you get closer to the Medway towns but on the way, especially in the spring and summer there are some lovely places. The trick is to ignore the rattling motorways.