The White Cliffs Walking Festival in Kent offers 42 walks this year. I went on a short one from Walmer on Thursday, immediately after the launch, to visit Nelson’s Seat.
There were about 40 of us, led by Diana Backwell.
We walked along the seafront on the new England Coast Path (which is also the Saxon Shore Way), and turned right past Walmer Castle.
We visited Upper Walmer and the Norman Blessed St Mary’s church,
and then crossed fields which had been threatened with development, but the planning application was about to expire so they should be safe.
We carried on through woods which I was told had until recently been fenced off by a hostile landowner but now were open again.
We emerged at grid reference TR 359491 with a view ahead to fields where Hugh Craddock has applied for the addition to the definitive map of a four-metre-wide restricted byway. Part of the route follows a definitive footpath, with an extension which connects with a public highway. If his application succeeds there will no longer be a dead-end route on the definitive map, and there will be recorded rights for riders, cyclists and carriage drivers in addition to walkers—wins all round.
We followed a footpath close to Hugh’s route, which had been marked out over the recently-ploughed field, up to Nelson’s Seat at grid reference TR 360488. There is a good view from here (65 metres above sea level) over Sandwich Bay—allegedly the one enjoyed by Nelson as he surveyed his fleet.
We crossed the same field again, this time on a path which had not been reinstated (needs checking after 14 days!) to Ripple Windmill. This a grade II-listed smock mill and quite a landmark.
We descended to the Dover Road and climbed the other side to Hawkshill open space, the former Walmer aerodrome.
It is owned by Walmer Parish Council. I was pleased to see on the notice board that it had received support from the Countryside Agency’s Local Heritage Initiative, an excellent Heritage Lottery funded project with which I was involved when I was an agency board member.
An interpretation board about the aerodrome had been installed earlier this month. it was an aerodrome during World War I and a radar station in World War II.
We returned to the town for lunch on Walmer Green. I walked north along the front to Deal, passing the bandstand.
An information board explained that it had been constructed in 1993, as a memorial to the 11 members of the Royal Marines School of Music from Deal barracks who died in the IRA bombing on 22 September 1989. The most famous verse of Laurence Binyon’s poem For the Fallen is reproduced, but unfortunately, as so often happens, the words ‘grow’ and ‘not’ are transposed, which gives a different, less elegant, meaning.
I arrived at Deal station and caught the train home, glad to have had the opportunity to look in on the festival.