A picturesque countryside view on the North Downs Way

Medway to Hollingbourne via Bluebell Hill Pt 5 Trail Diary

21st February 2017

Medway to Bluebell Hill

Just a short stretch today with my wife, Linda  -  uphill all the way from the River Medway to Bluebell hill, gradually leaving the roar of the M2 behind,  circling round the historic cities of Rochester and Chatham, passing an area called Borstal in which the first youth correctional facility was established (hence the word Borstal). On the ascent there is a view down to a stretch of the river Medway below, which for 20 years up to the end of WW2 had been the Short Bros' "landing strip" for seaplanes - now rather overwritten by the Medway Bridges.

There are not so many taverns actually on the North Downs Way but the Robin Hood near the top of Bluebell Hill is worth a visit. Warm welcome and goodly portions! So now I have left the Kentish Men and Maids behind and for the rest of the journey will be amongst the Men and Maids of Kent!

Bluebell Hill to Hollingbourne

Saunders in the guide book warns “the stretch (from Detling to Hollingbourne) should not be underestimated” – well he’s right!  A tough series of ups and downs and some narrow paths. At Bluebell Hill it is worth stopping to ponder the Neolithic remains of Kit’s Coty House though I struggle to imagine the lives of the people who built it.  From there it should have been straightforward for a few miles but for the first time since leaving Farnham I missed the path and ended up plunging 300 yards steeply downhill only, of course, to then have to huff and puff back up again!

Just past Detling there is a (very) ruined medieval castle but again it would take a good historical knowledge and great imagination to picture the scene based on the two remaining bits of flint wall. This stretch continues a good run of pubs-right-on-the-Way (following the Robin Hood at Bluebell Hill) with the Cock Horse at Detling and the Dirty Habit (!) at Hollinbourne but by the time I got there I just wanted to get home for a good soak!

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