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UK Tourist & Leisure Attractions - Kent

Belinda and Mike - follow our tourist travels in the UK

Kent Holiday June 2013 - page 2

Continuing our enjoyable self-catering cottage holiday in Kent we next headed to the Historic Dockyard at Chatham and toured three fascinating warships: HMS Gannet, HMS Cavalier and the submarine HMS Ocelot.  We also learnt how quality rope was made in the Ropery.  Then next day it was off to the north Kent coast for a cliff-top walk around Herne Bay to the Roman fort at Reculver Towers.
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HMS Gannet at Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent
Our first port of call after entering Chatham's Historic Dockyard was to board HMS Gannet, a Victorian naval sloop built in 1878.  Her function was to protect British interests worldwide.

Adult entry to the Historic Dockyard at Chatham cost 17.50 at the time of our visit (2013), although we used supermarket reward vouchers.

On board HMS Gannet at Chatham
HMS Gannet was both sail and steam powered.

HMS Gannet's steering gear
The double wheel on HMS Gannet's deck was typical of the era, requiring several men to operate it.  She had recently undergone a 3m restoration and is listed as historically highly significant.  After exploring HMS Gannet we next moved on to...

Chatham Historic Dockyard: HMS Ocelot in dry dock
...HMS Ocelot.  This awesome diesel-electric submarine was built at Chatham Dockyard in the early sixties and served throughout the Cold War with the Royal Navy for 27 years.  Crewed by 69 submariners, the sub could do a rapid 17 knots underwater.

Emergency escape system on HMS Ocelot
HMS Ocelot's vertical escape tower looked scary, it shot the sailor to the surface in an emergency!

The periscope on board HMS Ocelot at Chatham
The tour round HMS Ocelot was guided and involved crouching down to propel ourselves through a number of small round hatches and squeeze into the next small passageway in the submarine - great fun, but clearly not accessible for the less able.  As expected it was all rather cramped on board Ocelot and we certainly didn't envy a sailors life stuck for months under the oceans.  Up periscope!

Touring the Ropery at Chatham Dockyard in Kent
In the Victorian era Chatham Dockyard manufactured quality rope to rig the Navy's sailing ships of the time.  Our fascinating tour of the Ropery was guided by a wonderful character enactor and set in 1875.  Audience participation was invited to demonstrate how rope was made...

The quarter-mile long Ropewalk at the Historic Dockyard at Chatham
...and the tour finished at the quarter-mile long Ropewalk where rope is still made today and the rope makers use cycles to get end-to-end.  The exit was through the Ropery Shop (of course!) where ropes made in the Ropewalk could be bought, although why anyone would suddenly need rope was lost on us.

Chatham Historic Dockyard: HMS Cavalier
Another warship at Chatham Historic Dockyard to explore then, this is HMS Cavalier, a 1944 built C-class destroyer that saw active service during the closing years of WWII.  Unlike HMS Ocelot and the Ropery, we made our own way around HMS Cavalier.

For more information on the Historic Dockyard at Chatham and other stuff on the places we visit please check out our expansive tourist resources.

Seacat missile system on HMS Cavalier
Now we wouldn't want to be on the receiving end of Cavalier's 1964 fitted Seacat missile system!

HMS Cavalier Operations Room
Deep in the bowels of HMS Cavalier we found the Operations Room used to find, monitor and engage with the enemy.  Moving on through...

The Wardroom on HMS Cavalier
...the warship we found the Wardroom - the mess where the top-ranked Officers would dine and relax aboard HMS Cavalier.

Chatham Dockyard: HMS Cavalier's Bridge Wireless Office
The radio gear in HMS Cavalier's Bridge Wireless Office had Mike drooling; in a previous era he was G4BFJ, a 70s radio ham, when much of this kit was still knocking around on the war surplus market.

3 Slip - The Big Space at Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent
We toured other areas at Chatham Historic Dockyard in Kent including the Smithery, The Royal Dockyard Story and this: 3 Slip - The Big Space with its awe-inspiring collection of large and heavy machinery.

On the way to Reculver Towers near Herne Bay, Kent
So on to another day of our Kent holiday and a walk to and around Reculver Towers, a Roman fort just along the cliffs from Herne Bay.  The fort dates...

The remains of the Roman Reculver Fort in Kent
...from 43AD when the Romans first landed, the towers are pretty much all that remain of Reculver Fort.  We found a geocache at Reculver too.

Reculver Country Park cliff-top
After an interesting nose around Reculver Towers we started the cliff-top walk towards Herne Bay, stopping by the informative visitor centre at Reculver Country Park.  We loved the danger notice here, depicting a careless man falling over the cliffs!  Reculver is...

North Kent coast towards Herne Bay
...several miles from Herne Bay and unfortunately we didn't quite get to the town as somehow Mike totally mis-calculated the distances and walking time, doh!  Still, we did climb down to the north Kent seafront and walked along the promenade for a bit.

Mike busy cooking in the self-catering holiday cottage
After a tiring day it was nice to return to the Kent holiday cottage and cook up a hearty meal washed down by lashings of red wine.

Yum! Enjoying a meal in the self-catering holiday cottage in Kent
On the next page of our self-catering cottage holiday in Kent we visit Port Lympne Wild Animal Park and enjoy a walk along Kent's historic Pilgrims Way >>>

We've also visited: Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, HMS Belfast and other towers Glastonbury Tor, Broadway Tower and Hardy's Monument.