It may have had a couple of changes of licensees over the recent years but my late October Saturday lunchtime it was busy with food and for a rural, isolated village that keeps The Ship alive and well.
A few years ago, I remember a wet April walk with a group of six walkers, dripping through the side door into a linoleumed bar for a couple of pints before the final two miles to Istead Rise. A brief respite from the drizzle. The next year it was a cold dry day and, with clean boots, we sat in the corner of the lounge by a roaring fire, leaving with memories of a pub fit for a walker’s dream.
Somehow, The Ship Inn of 2018 has a different flavour than before. Carpeted throughout, it has raised its game for an eating and drinking clientele. The newish ‘Orangery’ was filled with a lunchtime party and every table in this one roomed pub was complete with eaters.
There is still the old dining room tucked out of the way behind the bar and there is still an open fire but for me, it has lost a little of that old country atmosphere that wrapped around you like an old warm coat. Perhaps if it had stayed that way it would not have survived to 2018.
More to the point, my Tim Taylor’s Landlord was a treat and as this is the last pub before a ‘dry’ Istead Rise it was fitting toast to this section of 1066 Harold’s Way from Dartford but always remember that there is still a couple of miles to go to the finish and the bus to Gravesend or Meopham.
Also on offer were Sharp’s Doom, Adnams Broadside, Adnams Ghost Ship and a Wantsum Montgomery from Canterbury.
The Ship Inn would make a fine end to any walk but the vagaries of the bus service make this difficult.
Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ – the long distance walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey and Hastings Castle inspired by King Harold’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings 1066. The Ship Inn, Southfleet will be No 28 in Beer Notes