Along the Way – Part 8 (Margate to Sittingbourne)
Last Push Before Christmas 2017
After the final WRNS100 event in London I went straight back on the walk. Into yet more stormy conditions I was reminded of the power of sea and those selfless people who put themselves in danger to save others. On Nayland Rock, a lifeboat memorial stands to commemorate the loss of 9 out of 13 crew members of Margate’s lifeboat who died in December 1897. As the waves crashed over the long sea wall heading towards Reculver I made sure I kept well clear.
On a distant headland I could see a derelict building, the remains of St Mary’s Church, Reculver. Fighting the head-wind it seemed to take forever to reach the site walking along a raised sea-dyke wall. Ten miles out to sea I could see the Kentish Flats Wind Farm, a vast development of 30 turbines providing 100,000 north-east Kent households with electrical power that’s transported ashore by underground cables
After a short break on a grassy cliff path, it was more concrete wall walking into Herne Bay, with the distant clock tower glowing a warm light providing my beacon. Like Ramsgate, Herne Bay was also decorated for Christmas; 32 of its post boxes boast specially knitted Christmas scenes placed on top of the pillar boxes! Organised by the local Craft Club, these have become somewhat of a tourist attraction.
Another female pioneer is remembered in a bronze statue at Herne Bay – Amy Johnson, the young aviatrix. Amy lost her life when her plane ditched off Herne Bay in January 1941 while on active duty. Already a record-breaking pilot and international celebrity, her loss was deeply felt by the aviation community.
Herne Bay is also a town of two halves when it comes to its pier. The seaward end sits forlornly one mile out, separated from its main shoreside structure. After many years of neglect it’s highly unlikely the two will ever be rejoined, despite local petitions. Although much shorter than its original design I did a lap of the pier amongst the Christmas stalls and Santa’s grotto.