North Downs Way 7: Blue Bell Hill to Detling

Dropped off at the picnic site, I started by walking back up the road to the exact spot where I’d stopped the day before and walked along again to the picnic site off-road. It was still a bit hazy over the Medway valley, but it was already warming up nicely. With legs still smarting from yesterday’s walk and a blister on my left heel I made slow progress down the hill to Kit’s Coty and then to cross under the A229. Then I slogged up through Westfield Wood to regain the escarpment and follow field edges and the woods above Boxley.

Kit's Coty
Kit’s Coty

My pace felt slow compared with the day before, but I knew it would have been worse if I hadn’t been using my Pacerpoles. And when I stopped after an hour to look at my watch, yes the pace was down, but not by as much as it had felt – about 2.7 mph instead of the 3mph I’d been getting the day before.

The relatively uninteresting terrain, the view being principally trees, meant my mind drifted off as I walked, and I’d seen enough of the map to know that the whole day would be like this. I descended into Detling on the 2 hour mark and took a coffee break on a convenient bench. Quite happily sitting there in the sun, I made myself get going and headed along the road to the A249 crossing. By now I really wasn’t happy with what my feet were telling me and just after crossing the A249 I considered my options. I’d done about 6 miles and it was another 6 to Hollingbourne – the first place with a station. But from my research before the walk I knew there was a bus through Detling between Maidstone and the Medway towns. I could walk for another 2-3 hours, but if I stopped now I could be home before the schools were out, and have time to sort things out before the interview I had the next day. This seemed like the thing to do, so I sat in the bus shelter and waited for the bus into Maidstone. Even with a train problem at Maidstone East I just about made it home by school home time and that was the end of this walk.

Now I just need to heel my feet (no pun intended!) so that I can be ready for a continuation next week if the weather holds out. And you know what, if I can fit in a 2 day walk, I might even try my first wildcamp.

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