I was now in the county of Kent, known as the garden of England. I don’t visit often but it always impresses. I walked through a light spittering (what I call a light rain). Kent took ages to wake up; it was Sunday after all. I ambled through apple orchards, past greenhouses where I nipped in under stealth mode and gorged on the deep red berries because someone had left the door open.
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I passed by banks of wild garlic, shaded in the woods, often smelling the onion before I saw the pretty white flowers. I walked through blinding fields of yellow rape along white chalk paths, cradled by woods of oak and kept company by occasional streams littered with pebbles. I ambled through sleepy hamlets with curtains still drawn and cats by front doors, tails flicking, patiently waiting to be let in. The roads were quiet, rabbits scattered showing white tails as I approached, and deer eyed me from the depths of the woods as the sun appeared over the horizon.
Even by 10am there was still a strange lack of other people. Usually the hills are dotted with the odd rambler or dog walker but it was oddly quiet and after a while I realised why: it was cold. Freezing in fact. The wind had intensified so much that it kicked me off the trail, as if losing an argument and seeking revenge. It was June and I wrapped up in most of the clothing I was carrying but still I couldn’t warm up. There was only one thing for it, coffee.
Places to stop and grab a hot drink and a bite to eat diminish in Kent somewhat. The county lacks eateries after being spoilt for choice until that point. I reached the split in the trail; Dover to the right, Canterbury to the left. I figured if I could get through Canterbury at a reasonable lick then I could reach Dover by end of day and get a sweet camp spot on the cliffs over the English Channel. I swung a left and by mid-morning stumbled out of the woods into Chilham It’s a place that makes me smile and I always look in the estate agent’s window out of curiosity. The village looks like it must have done 300 years ago. Everything appeared weathered and rustic but incredibly cute. I remembered the cafe where I had stopped for breakfast last time and made my way over whilst my stomach made strange sounds of anticipation. It was shut. I made do with a Gruyere and wild garlic sandwich, a Mr Kipling Country Slice and two caffeine tablets from my rations before rocketing off to Canterbury, still in a desperate search for a cooked breakfast.
Canterbury itself is also a wonderful place, rich in history, stories and an eclectic array of unique shops. It boasts more places to eat than a hungry hiker could wish for. I stopped at the first decent-looking offering and got the attention of a guy sitting outside.
“Hey, food any good here? ? I enquired.
“I always eat here, ” he replied. Food’s good. .