Our 7 am breakfast is perhaps a little disappointing, but we can get a good cab ride out to Grain and are able to set off from the pub in good order, in time to see a fox enjoying the early morning before the regulars have even reached the Hogarth. We must go to the eastern end of the Isle of Grain but that is reached swiftly: we walk down the sea wall for a mile or so, looking nervously out to see the S.S. Richard Montgomery’s masts peeping above the water outside Sheerness. We then turn inland to get past one of the power stations that, together with big gas and oil storage tanks, seem to be an Isle of Grain speciality, and begin the slow walk back westwards along the southern edge of the Hoo peninsula towards Rochester again, hugging the meandering shore of the Medway and occasionally crossing the railway line and road which connect Grain to the outside world. The wind of yesterday has abated, so it is warm and pleasant (though raining in Winchcombe apparently), but we feel slightly cheated by not being rewarded for yesterday by having a following wind today.
On our way we are delayed by a coarse fisherman (a man who fishes for coarse fish, nor a rude angler) who wants John to photograph him with a carp he (the fisherman, not John) has just pulled out of the water. This was a bit of a whopper (the fish, not the story) and allegedly weighs 19lb 11 oz. John’s deed of mercy done, we carry on past another power station (Kingsnorth) and, John and Ben now beginning to feel the two days’ walking wearing on us, trudge along the Saxon Shore way to a pub that Mike knows (is there any other sort), the Ship at Lower Upnor. A reviving pint allows us to muster the energy to carry on, up the inevitable hill to Upper Upnor and a thriving industrial estate, past Strood station (previously mooted as a bail out or is it bale out) and across the Medway, reaching Rochester in time for John and Ben to catch the 3 05 and leaving Mike to take the St Pancras train in due course, with perhaps a beer at the Wetherspoons in prospect to ease his journey north.