Wednesday, 6 May 2009

May Bank Holiday - Day trip to Rochester, Kent

The First May Bank Holiday was from Sat 2nd May to Mon 4th May (the other is 22 - 24 May). I like to make the most of these holidays by planning day trips, sometimes weekends away in the UK. It's a pretty hit and miss affair at times since the weather here in the UK can be kinda unpredictable. But as the forecasters were assuring us of good weather for Sat & Sun at least, I thought why not go for it and plan somewhere nice. I always ask around and research best places to go and since we don't have any kids with us we're spoilt for choice really :-) But it's always a good idea to get first hand experience of places you want to visit from friends and family who've been there before. In this instance for our first day trip I suggested the historic town of Rochester in Kent - The Garden of England. Since my family always depend on me to come up with places -and I've always come up a winner in the past:-) they agreed. I did the research, made our picnic lunch to take with us and set off the next day at around 10.30am.

on the road to Rochester

arriving in Rochester
The weather was beautiful just as forecasted - the sun was shining brightly and it was lovely and warm - summer clothing type weather:-) There were 7 of us in our Toyota Lucida - myself, my hubby, my daughter and her hubby, my daughter's friend and my 2 nephews. The journey to Rochester was very pleasant and we passed through beautiful English countryside - golden fields of rape seed that looked like fields of gold - so Gorgeous. There were so many farmhouses and fields with horses, sheep and cows all out to pasture. There was greenery everywhere and such scenic views. England is full of beauty for those who want to see:-) The journey itself took only 45mins - we didn't need to stop anywhere on the way. Rochester is about 35 miles from where we live in Essex.

Rochester Bridge over The River Medway
I won't bore you all with a history lesson - There's a link at the bottom of this entry that will direct you to a Rochester homepage where you can learn all about this place and believe me it makes for interesting reading. Suffice to say it's a historical town steeped in history and has connections with, amongst many other things and people, Charles Dickens.

Festivities outside Rochester Castle

Rochester Castle admission info

The castle keep (Great rectangular Tower)
We decided to tour around the castle first and as this was a May Day Bank Holiday there were lots festivities taking place around the castle and cathedral. There was a mini funfair with a beautiful carrousel and the usual fairground stands and foodstalls. The place was thronged with people enjoying the glorious sunshine and entertaiment. The castle was built between 1087 & 1089 with the Keep being added later in about 1127. Now it's a crumbling shell of it's once splendid glory - still beautiful nonetheless. We climbed the 209 uneven steps to the top of the castle for some spectacular views of Rochester Cathedral, The River Medway and surrounding areas - the views were quite stunning as you can see for yourself.

view of Rochester Cathedral from top of the Castle

View of Rochester Bridge over the River Medway from top of the Castle

view of Rochester from top of the Castle

Keep & curtain wall from the Southeast

Keep & castle wall from the east
After touring the castle we walked the short distance to Rochester Cathedral. This was free admission for individuals and a slight charge for group tours (again you can get details from the link at the end of this entry). If the Castle was impressive then the Cathedral was truly magnificent!

May Day festivities around the cathedral

River Dancing outside the cathedral
The earliest part of this Cathedral dates back to 1083 when work first began on a new Norman cathedral. I felt so much peace and serenity in this building - it is truly beautiful. The Romanesque and Medieval architecture are something to be admired and studied and the monolithic organ, put up by Gilbert Scott in the1870's, is simply breathtaking.

Gilbert Scott Organ

looking across the Nave Altar to the Pulpitum steps

The Nave

Rochester Cathedral

The Quire

Beautiful stained glass window

I'd love to go back to Rochester - as we never roamed around the cobbled streets and in and out of the quaint shops they have there. Just remember to wear comfortable shoes as you'll no doubt do a lot of walking - we certainly did:-) I would definitely recommend Rochester as a place well worth visiting for the overseas tourist as well as UK resident. It has a wealth of historical landmarks and such beautiful scenic views to offer - you really can't go wrong! I hope you enjoyed your visit through my eyes:-)

Like what you've heard and want to visit Rochester for yourself? - There you go!


Piddawinkle said...

glad you had a nice time over here in Kent, theres still loads for us to see as kids have kept us busy since we moved here 10 years ago this week, looking forward to the future when we can go off on ourselves, what bliss.

Lubna said...

Hi Siobhan
Yeah, Thanks! we had such a lovely day out. I agree there's so much Kent has to offer in scenic views and places to visit. Thanks for stopping by:-)

Renee (nayski) said...

Always been a dream of mine to tour a castle - thanks for posting the pictures. Sounds like you had a great time.

bockel24 said...

Great pics, Lubna! I´ve never been to Rochester, but now I know I should have!

Lubna said...

Hi Renee
Yep! we have so many castles here in the UK - you'd definitely be spoilt for choice. Glad you liked the pics and Thanks for popping in:-)

Lubna said...

Hi Marion
Thanks for stopping by - Well it's never too late to visit:-) Glad you enjoyed my pics!

PeregrineBlue said...

Love your music. Astrud Gilberto is wonderful. You have a very jazzy taste in music which I would never have imagined. Thank you. Have added some forgotten songs to my playlist.