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My day out to Sheerness and Minster
23rd July 2009
See Google maps for approximately where I walked

 I had great fears that the weather for my day out would be terrible, but I was wrong. It was mostly sunny and fine, although a few big dark clouds did appear in the sky from time to time.

 I started out from Catford station with a 13.40 cheap day return ticket, and headed initially to Bromley south station where I changed trains, and then onto Sittingbourne station. I changed trains again at Sittingbourne for the service to Sheerness railway station.
Sheerness On Sea railway station
 I arrived at Sheerness earlier than I thought I would because I seemed to find better connections than the National Rail Journey Planner web site suggested. I also arrived slightly keen to have a pee (though by no means desperate). So began an odessey around Sheerness looking for (ideally) a pub, or some toilets. Most of the pubs seemed to be closed, or is some cases closed down. Eventually I asked a local, and he directed me to a pub that was indeed open.
The Old House At Home pub
 The Old House At Home pub had some good points, but more bad points than good. It was good that it, alone in Sheerness, opened at 11 am instead of midday, and the toilets were clean and well equipped. The major bad point was that it was playing some really horrible music. Another bad point was that the other drinkers, and the bar staff seemed like the worst kind of chavs.

 After I had done my business in there I walked around the town a little more. Maybe a real die hard tourist would have found more to see, but the only thing I noticed of interest was the clocktower.
The clocktower in Sheerness town centre  















 I am not sure what times the large bell at the top sounds, but it made a quite loud bong as I passed it the first time at probably 11.30 am. I actually took this picture at 12:15 when I passed it for the second time (if the clock in my camera was correct).











 Soon after passing the clocktower I was almost back at the station, but I swung right and headed to the beach.
looking east along the beach at Sheerness
 The beach was quite quiet, but that was not all that surprising. The weather forecasts would have put many off coming out, and as can be seen in the picture it is not exactly an expanse of golden sands. As I later realised, it was approaching high tide, possibly an exceptional high tide, as I set out on my long walk. Most of my walk was on the concrete, or tarmac, "promenade", but in a few places it was over loose shingle, or packed shingle and sand.

 After walking about two miles I was approaching the "end of civilisation". This is where the coast road turns inland, and the shoreline turns wild. Fortunately there was one aspect of civilisation that was quite handy just before the road disappeared inland.
public toilets in Minster
 This public toilet was unusually pleasant for a public toilet, and I was more than happy to make use of the facilities there.

 It was actually quite a pleasant walking along the shoreline, and I surprised myself at just how far I went. If you have clicked on the Google maps link at the top of the page (which should have opened in a new tab) you will see point A marked. This is the limit of my journey as can be displayed by road, but I actually continued along the shoreline for another half mile. That last half mile (or maybe a little less) is beyond any proper footpath, and at the far end of my walk even the shingle beach had almost disappeared. The water was lapping up to actual soil.
The sea laps up against soil
 That dark brown substance just above the centre of the picture is actually genuine mud. All along this bit of coastline are bits of masonry that were probably structures that have now fallen into the sea as the coastline erodes away there. Some of the coastline, that I had passed earlier, further back towards Sheerness, is artificially protected by large granite boulders that have been placed there.
artificial sea defences made from granite boulders
 It was at this far end of my walk that I decided it was time to cool my feet off with a paddle. My new canvas shoes I had bought for this occasion turned out to be far better than I had imagined. I ended up not just paddling, but actually sloshing through the water for quite a long way just for the pleasure of it. The one thing I must learn to do is to synchronise my feet to the waves. Moving my foot at the wrong time did make a few big splashes that wet my trousers above the knee. I didn't really care about that because I was expecting to get a lot wetter......
black clouds
 It was about at this time that some really heavy black clouds appeared in the sky. I remembered to take this picture as I started my return journey. Although very threatening in appearance they soon dispersed, and I stayed dry. Before making my way back to Sheerness I had one more port of call.
The Playa pub, Minster
 This was The Playa, formerley known, and listed in Google as, The Beach pub. It was rather pleasant in there with a couple of pretty barmaids, and a nice relaxed atmosphere. I had one pint of Stella Artois in there before using their toilets and getting on my way.

 There was a bus service that could be hailed from right outside the pub (according to a lifeguard I talked with) and another bus service from just down the road by the toilets I pictured earlier. The only problem was that I had no idea at what time the buses came. So I started walking. My feet were definitely feeling it by then, but after a long hard slog I finally arrived at Sheerness station. Including the detours I made, I estimate I walked in excess of 6 miles just on the Isle Of Sheppy. So it was a nice surprise to learn that I only had 10 minutes to wait for the train to start my journey home.  

 My journey home was not without it's difficulties. It all went wrong when I decided to change trains at Swanley for the final leg of my journey. I should have had a 10 minute wait for the next train (which was handy to nip outside for a much needed fag), but my train had been cancelled. If I had chosen to change at Bromley South I could have got a bus back to Catford, but I had to wait an additional 30 minutes for the next train.

 Having travelled all that way to Sheerness for, essentially, just a paddle in a lot of water, I could have saved my money and stayed in Catford. When I arrived back I found that a water main had burst, and gallons of water were spraying up from betwen the paving stones and flowing into a big puddle in the main road. I could have had a paddle there !
Burst water main in Catford