I live in the heart of Kent. Running through it is a river called the River Medway. It's just over seventy miles long and meanders through some stunning countryside. Last year I tried to Kayak the length of it, solo and unsupported. This was a great challenge for a weekend. Click here if you would like to read more about this trip.
I've had the idea of walking it for a while. I plan to walk the length of the River Thames at some point so I thought this would be a great trip to do in a weekend. So I talked to a good friend of mine and asked him to come along. He jumped at the chance and couldn't wait. So we planned it. The route was simple, just follow the river. What do we pack? Luckily, we've both done a lot of camping wild before so that was fine. When we would go? End of January we decided on!! Middle of winter when it's cold and wet and the days are short. Great decision. Well, we wanted a challenge and also, I don't have much time on my hands and needed to do it sooner rather than later.
The logistics were fairly straight forward. We googled the source location and got a grid reference for it and one of my brothers gave us a lift there after work on the Friday. We divided up the team kit to make sure we were carrying the same weight. Things like the tent, cooker and water purifier. We took a water purifier because we knew we were always going to have a water source and carrying litres of water gets heavy. Turns out we didn't use it as Kent has a lot of pubs and villages along the river and they were happy to fill up our water bottles. So a thank you to all of them.
Like i said we got there late in the afternoon on the Friday. Weather was not brilliant and we had about three hours until sun down. The plan for the day was to get as many miles walked and find somewhere to camp about 8 O'clock. The first part was slow going, very slow going. The river was just a little stream and it ran under roads and through private land which made following it difficult and slow. But we did our best. At 8pm we decided to put the tent up. It was dark and we were hungry. But mostly because a bloody storm had rolled in. Strong winds and that awful sidewards rain. I couldn't wait to get under some shelter and what a great decision we made to bring a tent and not our usual tarp. The going was horrendous, flooded fields and natural obstacles. But hey, it was now a challenge and we were happy. Sort of... That night we got no sleep at all. The storm was dreadful. So loud and the winds shook the tent that kept us worried all night that we would take of across the english countryside.
The following day we packed up and set off. Picked up the river and kept walking. We would stop for food wherever we could. We also packed lots of snacks and restocked where we could. The good thing about doing this in England is we are so populated that there is always places to find food and water nearby. Today was a huge day. We must have covered at least forty miles to make up some time. By the end of the day we were so exhausted. We made it to a familiar pub and decided to put up our tent in the beer garden. We didn't ask which was wrong but we were worried that they may say no and we really didn't have the energy to keep walking and look for somewhere else. Plus this pub does good food and we needed to eat real bad. Luckily for us the weather was good and we slept so good that night. The big meal and a pint definitely helped us to sleep too.
The final day. I looked at the map and estimated we had about twenty three miles to push. Less than we did on the Saturday but our feet were sore, legs were aching and our shoulders were worn from carrying the packs. I was pretty confident if we kept to a steady pace we could be at the end by night fall. We were now in familiar territory as the Medway towns is where we lived. The good thing is we now knew the good places to eat and where we could stock up supplies. Today was a good day. The weather nice and cool and the scenery was great. We had a great big breakfast that should help to give a good start. As the day went on our feet really did start to hurt. The constant pounding with the kit on to try and get to the end. The last five miles were definitely the hardest. It felt like it was never ending. But eventually we got there. We got to the Medway Estuary, the River Medway on our right and the River Thames on our left. We did it and we were happy.
You maybe reading this and thinking why didn't we just go slowly and try to enjoy it more. The truth is we wanted a challenge. Plus we only had the weekend to do it. It was a challenge and we got out of it exactly what we wanted. In the process I managed a raise a little more cash on my Just Giving page so that can't be a bad thing. The whole weekend was great. I love this sort of thing. My mind was only on the task at hand, constantly planning our next stops for food and water and where do we get our resupplies. Where were we going to sleep?, keeping check of the weather and dealing with obstacles like the constant flooded fields and private land. We got it all done and we are very happy with the result.
Following a river is great fun. You can't really get lost if you stay close to the water. In the UK you're never that far away from resupply or help if need be. I would seriously recommend you get out there and try it. You don't have to walk as far as we did in a weekend, perhaps you want to go further!!. Maybe just go for a day trip and get picked up, or get the bus or train back. Easy stuff. Go on, do it and let me know how it goes.
I'm always looking for ways to raise money for charity and I have a continuous Just Giving page running. If you like what you've seen and would like to spare a couple of pounds towards a great cause then please click here to donate. I appreciate everything you can do.
Please feel free to check out my social media accounts and use #WalkTheMedway to see my posts. Thanks for taking the time to read this.