A walk along the Great and Little Stours
As it was a lovely day, I took the opportunity to go for a short walk along the bank of the river.
The walk is part of the Saxon Shore Way, the path that follows the southeast coastline as it was in Roman times. Here at Grove Ferry is where one would board a ferry to the Isle of Thanet, some two miles across the Wantsum Channel. Due to silting, the Channel is now nothing more than a tributary of the River Stour.
The River Great Stour is the main body of water, which is joined by the River Little Stour at a place called Plucks Gutter. All of which lies in the Stour Valley, a wide expanse of lowland, much of which is marshland.
I walked round to the picnic site, where canoes can be hired and a snack trailer sits. Unsurprisingly, it’s busy at this point.
Soon though, it becomes more rural
with an easygoing path.
As with everywhere in Kent, the Hawthorns are bursting with fruit.
Soon, I came to a gate that led onto the road with a little bridge over one of the many tributaries.
“Oh well.”, I thought, “I’ll have to head back and go explore the marshes in the opposite direction.”
Just as I was turning back, a family of walkers appeared from across a field. I got talking to one of the group who told me that I could walk further on, certainly as far as where the Great and Little Stours meet. I decided to go for it. I headed out over the fields, following a footpath.
One of the many tributaries
The view across the Stour
Eventually, I reached the the bank of the River Little Stour
and a footbridge directing one to an old church.
I then turned left to follow the river towards Plucks Gutter.
I soon passed some sort of hydro-power station.
At this point, I noticed that the weather was closing in. I had no choice but to keep going. I was in the middle of nowhere. Eventually, I came to a row of Poplar trees on the opposite bank with a footbridge before.
I continued on, enjoying the sheltered relief from the weather.
What I didn’t realise at the time is that the footbridge is the last chance to cross in order to walk into the village for refreshments. Instead, I came to a wall of brambles at the confluence of the two Stours.
I then took the few paces to cross the corner of the field to the bank of the Great Stour.
From this point on, the walk became more challenging. Underfoot, the ground is more spongey and uneven. I had already walked a few miles and had the meandering course of the river to follow. What, as the crow flies, is about a mile or so, is a good four and a half miles along the riverbank!
Fortunately though, the wind blew the dark clouds away. I finally made it back to the point where I had decided to go the little extra! I opened the gate and traipsed my way home through the little butterfly sanctuary.