Yesterday (Wednesday) was the third day of our 3-day Kent Rover rail ticket, so although the weather was wet and chilly, we felt compelled to make use of it. We arrived at London Bridge station on the dot of 9:30 so as to benefit from cheap fares into Kent.
We had been thoroughly rained on during the journey to the station and it was altogether shaping up to be a miserable day but we kept out spirits up as best as we could.
We had a definite end in view and eventually achieved it but only after an initial hiccup. We were heading for Hythe and our plan was to take the Dover train and disembark in Sandling, where we could presumably take the bus to Hythe. Bad idea. When we emerged from the station, in heavy rain, we found it was well outside the town and, as far as we could see, there were no bus stops*. So we set out bravely on foot for a wet and windy 30-minute hike which ended in the temporary respite of a coffee break in the Castle pub on the village green.
The high point of the wet walk was meeting the lamb pictured on the left. Sheep are usually nervous animals and run away from people but the sheep of Sandling seem unusually relaxed and actually came up to the fence to say hello. This little black lamb was very keen to meet us.
Having sought the advice of locals, we were able to catch a bus into Hythe. By then the sun was showing though the weather alternated sun and rain for the rest of the afternoon, becoming decidedly wet and miserable in the evening. This ornate drinking fountain caught my eye. It is rather beautiful.
Our destination was the Hythe station of the The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway. This is a miniature steam railway that, despite its small size, carries passengers over a respectably large network. A ride on the steam train is a child’s dream come true – even if the child is a grown-up one like me! The picture shows one of the scale model engines which is powerful enough to haul a long train of carriages. Very impressive.
The original plan was to travel the whole network, returning to Hythe but service was restricted so we had to make do with travelling the whole route from Hythe to Dungeness and then back from Dungeness only as far as Romney.
The train takes you through some beautiful and varied countryside, enough to keep me gawping happily, first on this side and then on the other. The train paused at Dungeness for quite a while, long enough to go to the little cafe and shop for tea and then spy out the countryside from the station platform. Dungeness at first sight seems a flat, bleak region, the last place city-dwellers like us would choose to live in, but there is also a strange charm and attraction about it. We must explore further.
Returning to Romney, we took a bus to Folkestone. A walk through the town – familiar to us since we spent Christmas here a couple of years ago – led us to the station where we caught a train back to London. Thus ended three days of Kent travels. We saw many interesting places and sights as well as adding to our list of destinations to explore in more detail another time.
*The bus apparently does go past the station but I have no idea where it stops. Maybe it is “hail and ride”.