We recently took our camper to Chatham to have some modifications carried out. I had done a Google search to see what was in the area as we were told the work would take about 5 hours. There was the historical Dockyard but we have been there recently, so asked one of the engineers on our arrival. 'There's a childrens ball pool and a Tesco down the road', he suggested. Not quite what I'd hoped for! And so we turned to my son's phone for ideas and used it as a sat nav, heading for a 'fort'. We had no idea what this would be like. A grass area with a sign saying 'This was the site' came to mind, but hey, it was a destination and the weather was good. So we set off and decided to take a short cut through what looked like a park.
And that's where our day turned into something of a surprise and excitement. Because we were greeted with this path.
Now. We had already walked a good way down the path before I took this photo and came across an information board. And that's when I learnt that this area is known as 'The Chiltern Lines' and that they form part of the country's best preserved defence for the 18th century dockyard. A Dutch Raid in 1667 showed their navy could sail up the river unimpeded and to stop this happening again the river and its approaches became heavily fortified. In order to do this, local farmers and residents were cleared from the land, so that the area allowed good range for firing cannons. Of course, locals were upset about no longer having access to this land and there were some uprisings, and even today there are strict regulations about what the land can be used for. It is now a Heritage Park.
Further on we came to an amazing naval monument dedicated to those who lost their lives at sea during the 2 world wars. Names were written not only on the monument but around all the walls inside. It's position and record of so many people left a lasting impression and it can not be captured in a photo.
But there was still more to come! Because when we reached our destination we discovered this too was Britian's largest Nepoleonic Fort! How has this escaped us? We enjoy travel books and programmes, visiting places of interest and local history. OK, Chatham is not exactly local to us, but we have visited the area in the past and we research before we go. But not knowing, actually, was all the more special because we had surprise upon surprise:
You can go for underground tours in the fort, which we left for another time, and amongst the old there was the new. At Chatham marina this block of flats looked eye catching with its face of blue glass.
And the colour of these blackberries also made me stop. A sign that fruit is ripening in the hedgerow and that it is the season for harvesting.
Some of the photos I took on the day will be included in Rinda's Scavenger Hunt. And some opportunities were lost. There were people playing ball in the Chatham Lines Heritage Park, and piers along the river. I just didn't think of taking these photos at the time. But not to worry. They provide a reason to go out again and I don't need much of an excuse!
And I love it all the more when the day brings unexpected surprises.....