Hilary and I had taken over the leading of this at short notice and we were pleased that we numbered 11 , despite the dire weather forecast. Rochester was holding a two day Dickens festival and  there were large numbers of people doggedly trudging along the historic but rain-swept High Street. We stopped off at the old Guildhall, now an interesting museum of local history. Hazel recalled that when she last visited, the fine  court chamber (see photo) was in use as a café. Sadly this had become a victim of austerity.

On leaving, a traditional Punch and Judy show was starting but we didn’t stay long enough to see how PC it was with regards to portrayal of domestic violence. Our route took us along the river Medway and up past the imposing castle to the Cathedral where we  took a brief internal tour. Leaving Rochester we made our way to Chatham, enjoying  good views of the Medway from Victoria Park. Descending to the river and the old high street we visited St Bartholomew’s Chapel dating from 1078. Grade 2 listed but now redundant as a place of worship it is used as a gym for fitness and martial arts. The proprietor welcomed us in and very kindly showed us round the plain  but largely unspoilt interior. Apparently he gives his mother a training session each week as well as working with local young people.  He was particularly proud of the chapel’s front door key (see photo). It was an unexpectedly rewarding detour on several levels. We had lunch at Chatham, following Martin’s recommendations. The majority were well served at  the Thomas Waghorn PH, whilst. Geoffrey was more than pleased with all you can eat for £9 buffet at  the Spoon World Buffet & Bar.

Proceeding west, we passed the former Kitchener barracks and the entrance to Chatham dockyard before turning up to Brompton. This is the site of barracks built to defend the dockyards and the attractive central part dates  mostly from the 18th century. Descending we passed the Royal Engineers museum. This has a fantastic collection of tanks and other tracked vehicles outside and must be well worth a  proper visit if in the area.

It was getting pretty murky as we reached Gillingham station and we were pleased to pile onto a nice warm train. All in all, a good day out. Thanks to Martin for doing the planning; sorry you couldn’t be with us. Thanks to Ida for the photos.