Floods, floods and more floods.
Walk 7 Maidstone to Staplehurst
Vince Elphick writes:
Well what can I say? It was a tale of two walks really – I think this is a lovely stretch and I have made a mental note to re-walk this section in the summer because it will be a lot more enjoyable then. The weather held off yesterday for the most part; I only got drenched twice! Here is a summary of the walk that may help others decide whether or not to do it at this time of year, especially regarding the ongoing flooding situation.
Getting out of Maidstone was an issue – one where I had to be extremely creative in order to stick as closely to the route. As you will see from the photo of the Archbishop’s Palace – the towpath and riverbanks were totally unnavigable. Upper Crisbrook Mill compensated a lot though – what a lovely spot – apart from the flooding and mud everywhere, the walk from there to The Chequers was lovely. Point to note though – at the junction with Bridge Street and Church Street, the river is flowing down the middle of the main road! So on to The Quarries – the picture says it all – again I had to be creative in bypassing The Quarries as the main road was literally knee high in flood water and there was no way through. All in all though it was a lovely walk through a very picturesque part of Kent. The Railway Tavern at Staplehurst was indeed as you say in the book – ‘very welcoming’! A walk that should have taken me about 3 to 4 hours ended up taking 5 and a half but that was to be expected given that I wanted to stick to the official route as closely as possible.
One thing I want to advise everyone of though is the stretch between the point where the Roman road passes Greensand Way and the crossroad options at the bottom of the hill. Numerous trees have fallen across the path so a fair bit of climbing is required to navigate your way through. This is further exacerbated by a small stream that flows quite rapidly down the middle of the path; broad in places and narrow in others but a constant feature for the entire stretch. That and the serious bank erosion caused by flooding and trees uprooting means this stretch is particularly dangerous.
I am now having second thoughts about tackling Walks 8 and 9 before the flooding has passed as I don’t think I am getting the full effect of what a lovely route this can be – but knowing me, I will soldier on anyway. But of course taking note to re-visit some stretches later in the year when the weather picks up.