Kent and Sussex Shoreline Walk

Walk 17 – Dymchurch to end of Hythe Ranges, Kent

July 2012, what a month. Part 17 of my Kent and Sussex Shoreline Walks and light blue is trying to break through the drab grey. Swirling storm clouds gather like a madman's canvas.

Starting at Martello Tower no 23, Dymchurch (a private dwelling), the walk proceeds across Hythe Ranges to Hythe, Kent.

Climbing the sea wall, you get a good view of the route ahead. The man-made sea defences remind me of huge barbecue coals without the smoke.

24 pounder

Dymchurch Redoubt, built between 1804 and 1812 as a supply depot for the Martello Towers from Hythe, Kent to Rye, Sussex marks the end of the concrete walk way. Able to accommodate 350 soldiers, armed with eleven 24 pounder cannons and 68 metres in diameter, the Redoubt was finished after the threat of French invasion had vanished.

Please note: Hythe Ranges are operated by the MoD and have limited access. See the website for details.

Today though, I'm in luck. The planets are in alignment, the tide's right and no-one is trying to shoot me. Skirting around the barbwire ringed fort, I'm soon on the shoreline. The grey is oppressive but I have the ranges to myself as I pass the numerous warning signs. One says: 'Caution non ionising radiation' and I imagine armed, bio-suited goons marching me away.

Black with red

The beach unfurls before me. Groynes punctuate the shingle. Passing a small tower that has sprouted surveillance cameras, I resist the urge to do a funny walk or bare my buttocks.

An array of flora and fauna reveals itself amongst the causally strewn rocks. On a purple thistle, a Six-spot Burnet feeds. Black with red warning spots this moth contains cyanide. Tasty.

Tower 19 is a sad sight. Slowly reclaimed by the sea, it gives a fascinating insight into the construction of a Martello Tower. Feet thick with several courses of brickwork, it's still no match for the sea's forces.

Large numerals

As I wander, I'm surprised to see so many Marbled Whites flitting from flower to bush. Extremely flighty, hard to photograph and with a penchant for a white bloom which I still have to identify.

To my left the ranges are reassuringly quiet, large numerals dotting the skyline. To my right poppies red spot the pebbles. Fitting really.

Towers 14 & 15 have fared better than 19, staring defiantly across the Channel, unused, useless. Pigeons love 'em though. They make a great des res. Location, location…

Tower 19

As I near residential Hythe, hauled up fishing boats idle in front of an interesting blue shed, its function unknown. At the tarmac I stop. The rain clouds kept their cargo so I thanked them. I had forgotten my waterproofs.

I decide against a 'bitty' cross-country return in favour of the ranges. A closer inspection of Tower 19 is calling.

On this walk…