The kids were a bit bored and we were struggling to think of something to do. As I was looking at the map I had an idea. I’d been reading Topsy and Tim books to Henry at night (books I and my sisters had as children) and one of them involved boats and locks and stuff.
The river Medway isn’t too far away and I thought a little walk along in the sunshine would be good. The kids were all ‘oh, Daddy, do we have to, it looks rubbish’ – but sometimes as a parent you have to be firm. So that was it – Ella had the map, we had a 20 minute drive to where I wanted to go and we were off. It was a lovely day but rain was forecast in the late afternoon, so I planned it so we should be back in good time before risking getting wet.
We ended up at Teston, not too far from Maidstone as it has 5 things going for it.
1. Not too far away
2. A place to park
3. A 14th Century bridge
4. A lock
5. A definite place to walk to, cross over the river and come back the other side.
The bridge at Teston is interesting as it’s largely unchanged since it was built in the 14 or 15 hundreds. Some repairs were made to some of the arches in the 1800s but thats it. It’s one lane wide and has recesses in for people built into get out of the way of the traffic. I’ve seen these before (theres a similar bridge a few miles upriver at Aylesford) and its always interesting to see them up close.
The river is exceptionally beautiful mid summer due to the abundance of flowers and grasses that grow along the banks. It has been at wet year in the UK so far, so everything was lush and abundant.
The kids soon got over their reluctance to go out and immediately set about exploring.
The kids loved the lock and as luck would have it, there was a boat travelling upriver when we got there, so they helped open the lower lock gates when the water level in the lock had dropped. We spent a little while exploring and Ella was sad that we didn’t have a kayak so she could go down the whitewater fish slipway.
Walking along the north bank towards Wateringbury was lovely. There was hardly anyone else there and Ella and Henry had fun playing in the long grass and just getting fresh air amongst the flowers and meadows that run along side the river.
Soon the path opened up and boats were moored alongside. The kids loved this and immediately wanted to buy one and go motoring down the river. Henry especially, as he’d been reading ‘Topsy and Tim go sailing’
We got to Wateringbury, which took about 45 minutes or so – it’s not that far – a few miles maybe – but there wasn’t any shops or anything that we could get some refreshments, so we decided to head back before the rain came. The skies were darkening, but still looked a way off and not in any danger of soaking us.
The path back along the south side isn’t so clearly marked and we ended up taking a guess after this stile – Ella and Henry beat back the nettles and we hoped we were going the right way. I’d checked the map beforehand, but once you’re in a head high field of wild flowers, things are less certain!
We popped out into the farmland and followed a track hopefully in the right direction. The kids were less happy now as they were getting tired and didn’t like the uncertainty of not knowing exactly where the right way was. It wasn’t a problem – the footpath was eventually marked again and we walked through a farm, a lovely manor house and down near some typically Kentish terraced cottages.
The footpath led us back to the Teston Bridge, where we had to dodge the traffic and hide in the little refuges. The kids loved it and were totally worn out when we got back.
I stopped off at garage on the way back for some supplies and treats – they’d walked a long way for little legs and they deserved it. Sometimes the simplest days out are the best.