A small group of walkers assembled at Halling station for another Go Green By Train adventure into the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, this time exploring some of the beautiful landscapes around the Medway Valley. The forecast thunderstorms had clearly put-off some of those who had booked. We had been keeping a watchful eye on the weather and felt confident we would finish the walk before any storms arrived.
We began with a brief history of the line, somewhat of a late-comer to the railway revolution, opening as it did in 1856. The reason, the navigable river that already provided a means to shift goods and the understandable opposition of the boatmen who understood the risk to their livelihoods.
Time has changed the Medway Valley. The 19th and 20th century saw brick making and cement industries arrive and industrialise the landscape. Children were said to be born “With a brick in their mouths” and chalk dust filled the air. In 1921 the area was described in Unknown Kent as “A valley of desolation.”
As the raw materials were exhausted industry withdrew and whilst some sites have been repurposed for housing, nature has returned and regeneration programmes are in place. The Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty team describe it as a “Valley of Visions”.
We climbed from the Medway Valley up the scarp slope of the North Downs to follow the North Downs Way through Dean Valley to Bush Valley. From there we found different paths across the same valleys to take us to the beacon above Cuxton before our final descent into the village.
“Undulating” became our word of the day.
At Cuxton we headed to the station where the work of the Friends of Cuxton station was on displaying, with a map showing places we had explored and more to come back to and visit later. There were well tended welcoming planters on the platforms.
We had beaten the rain and were in time for the train back to Halling for those who needed to rush off, most returned to either the White Hart or the Cuxton Big Lunch festivities for some refreshment and then caught a later train.
The walk met our objectives of promoting sustainable tourism and bringing tourist spend to our local communities. Some of our group arrived by train, all made an onward rail journey. There were many conversations about exploring further afield, with some planning an extended walk to the Darnley Mausoleum for their next adventure.
Thanks to all who came along, particularly our fellow North Downs Ambassador and volunteer walk assistant, Chris Anthony.