Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Saxon Shore Way Part II: Upnor to The Enchanted Forest

Before reading about the second part of my mysterious journey, read Part I

... so I've entered Upnor high street. 

A few posts back I spoke about a very strange encounter with a skirted man on the grounds of Upnor Castle (read here). I'm still a little weirded out about the castle after witnessing what I thought was a freaky coincidence, but nothing could prepare me for what I was to be told as I visited the gift shop again on my way to see Julie. I couldn't help myself, even though my boots were muddy from walking the shore all morning, I had to stop and buy some more mini flat-pack cottages at the castle shop (see here). I wiped my feet on the way in and was greeted by a nice lady behind the counter who asked if I wanted to buy admission to the castle. I thanked her and informed her that I'd visited recently and was only back for the flat-packs. She smiled and asked if I'd enjoyed my visit. "Of course", I told her. "Apart from the fact that I've been scared the life out of by a man wearing a skirt, it was great". I explained how I'd seen him quickly pass me as I photographed a doorway and then I'd seen him again from behind as he left the castle. 

"I was informed that I was the only one of the grounds", I said ... her face went pale. "To tell you the truth", she said quite warily, "I cannot believe you were in there (while pointing to the castle) by yourself". She went on to tell me the story of two Canadian women who had experienced a similar phenomenon in 2008. As she pulled out a sketch from behind the counter I felt shivers down my spine. She told how they'd rushed into the gift shop and demanded an explanation for why "the guide in the costume" would not answer their questions. She told me they'd left white faced after learning that there were no guides in costumes on the premises. I swallowed hard and continued to listen despite the fact that I wanted to run out of the shop, and as far from the castle as I could. She asked me to give her a description of what she said could have been one of the many "resident spooks". She explained how they'd had more than a few worried visitors who heard invisible footsteps only weeks earlier as well as children who refused to enter the gift shop (that we were standing in!!!) It surprised me how normally she spoke about the paranormal. She mentioned once more about a monk who had been seen recently in the corner of the shop ... and with that I said goodbye. 

I hurried down the path from the castle to the house where Julie was working, rang the doorbell and rushed inside. I sat and told Julie everything the woman at the gift shop had told me "I might not go there again" I said, "too scary". I made myself a drink and grabbed a left-over orange from my backpack before setting off again. 

Saxon Shore Part II (Megan's version). 

Although the tide was coming in and I was al little unsure about walking all the way to Strood, I was determined to at least get a taste for the Upnor-Strood route. The very beginning of the walk continued the length of the remaining shoreline just before the Chattenden Barracks. As I reached the small military establishment I was greeted by a chain-link fence with barbed wire reading "Ministry of Defense Property - Dogs on Patrol". At first, I was a little uneasy about taking the small path along the fence, but after I'd walked a ways I was greeted by friendly soldiers on the other side of the fence. One of them sat eating his lunch with his back to the fence, as I passed he cried out jokingly, "get me out of here!". 

As I neared a main road I began to notice an interesting relationship between the natural and the modern world. Even though I was only close enough to hear the bustling of the traffic, I still felt like I was entering yet another enchanting world. Like I do, I decided not to continue on the Saxon trail after I'd approached a very confusing traffic light. I worry sometimes that I might look the wrong way and get run down by a speeding motorcycle, I think its side effects from a near death experience at Trafalgar Square least year. Anyway, as I began retracing my steps back to the house I came across a sign for a "public byway" which, according to my little booklet, describes a public footpath. I curiously approached a wooden gate and entered what I have since named "Snow White's Wood". 

I named it after a pop-up book I had as a little girl, which was of course, was named after the best Disney film ever. To find out more about the pop-up book I'm speaking of, click on the link below:)

I could not believe how close I was to any kind of civilization (in this world). I imagined Snow White's cottage suddenly appearing behind the low branches. It was just so dreamy the way the light came through the branches. I continued through the wooded path until I felt all too alone. On the way out I decided that I would always remember the place as "my secret wood", a place I've been looking for since I was small. As I made my way home I snapped a few photos of a mallard pair, they looked so happy in the sun. The tide was coming in, so I quickened my pace and found my way back to the house pretty quickly. Before leaving Southpoint (the name of the house) I savored every beachy decoration. 

It was a day I will never forget. 


Matt Boehnke said...

Great site, but where is the discussions of the devonshires? They are my favorite!


Megan said...


What are these Devonshires you speak of? They must be some kind of elf living in Devon (where War Horse was filmed??)

Love you,