It was only three weeks ago that we visited the Isle of Sheppey on one of those days that were hot in the sun and cool in the shade, the first early days of autumn. In my quest to visit the eastern isles (forgive me Messrs Johnson and Boswell), I could not miss out Sheppey, site of chalet holidays with kind aunties when I was a child, an island where you get three isles for the price of one courtesy of the marshy creeks, the Saxon island of sheep.
You reach the Isle of Harty at the south of Sheppey via a long, worn out road across the flat sheep filled fields. There must have been a ferry at one point across the estuary to Faversham or Whitstable, now at the end of the road only the Ferry Inn remains.
We wanted to walk across to the sea wall north of Shellness and went via footpaths that occasionally disappeared. We didn't know quite what to expect - the best part of any new walk when you come across surprising places and spaces that didn't quite look so good on the map. In the small trees at the corners where the footpaths crossed from one field to another there were wild plums to eat and steal (and bring home to make two pans of jam).
There were a few houses along the way, some abandoned, and a sense of being well off the beaten track.
We passed a tiny church, St Thomas the Apostle, still filled with flowers (a recent harvest festival perhaps) and decorated with the prettiest stained glass celebrating the local countryside. Jars of jam and pickles were for sale, pencils and small cookery books.
Walking on across the marshes, we could see the white cockleshell beach of Shellness distance. It was really noticeable that the sounds were different here - the rustling of a row of poplars, and the reeds, and birds in the distance. The path seemed to twist and turn so that you thought you were close one minute and further away a bit later on. I pretended I was in a foreign country.
At the end of the path we turned north, modestly passing the nudist beach, and on to tea at a friend's place before we made out way back round on a different path before the light went.
If you are wondering what the apple connection is, this is it.
The Ferry Inn serves cider from the Isle of Sheppey and we had a couple of pints. Very fine it was too. I forgot to ask where it came from - there was not much evidence of apple orchards around. I found a Sheppey based cider maker, Paul Johnson, in this list of Kentish cider makers and that may be the source. I'm thinking now that I may have to go back to check in person.