I loves me a quick escape from London, so when a curious pixie (or should I say THE Curious Pixie) hit me up for a cheeky weekday wander-filled daytrip to Rochester I was absolutely up for shaking off the shackles of my desk and hitting the road.
Well, technically we hit the train tracks, hopping on a quick locomotive from London Victoria to Rochester (it’s 40 minutes or so, the perfect length of time for a natter and a breakfast croissant.)
I’ve done a work daytrip to Rochester before, many many years ago, pre-blog and in all honesty I didn’t remember very much at all – bar clambering around a local church out in the suburbs.
It’s a lovely wee town in Kent, just perfect for wandering.
As you can imagine, being firmly in Kent, known at the ‘Fruit Garden of England’ Rochester has some really interesting boutique cafes and shops, which we made full use of exploring (including the beautiful wine shop where I discovered two delectable dessert wines which absolutely came home with me.)
We also stopped in at the very quirky Cheese Room for a fromage filled lunch of baked camembert and gourmet toasted sandwiches. We’ll definitely both be back…
Fuelled up, we went a-wandering. Rochester is centred around the now empty castle, and has pletny of wandering streets for mooching about (and being made to pose in, obvs.)
As you can tell by the proliferation of spring blossom, our break was a little while before I’ve had a chance to blog about it, but the compact nature of the city makes it a perfect place to wander, rain hail or shine.
If it rains, just take sanctuary in one of the local pubs (#anyexcuse)…
…or perhaps wander through the winding aisles of Baggins Bazaar, the biggest second hand bookshop in the UK (I was well behaved and only bought one Enid Blyton tale that I hadn’t read)…
…or take sanctuary in the Rochester Cathedral, a beautiful building.
Luckily we had blue skies for most of our visit, but I’d also highly suggest popping into the Rochester Guildhall Museum which is just down the High Street.
Outside, mounted on the roof of the Guildhall Museum, is an amazing weather vane in the form of a fully rigged 18th-century warship. This is 1.52m tall and weighs just under 51kg. It is made of gilded copper and lead alloy and has weathered the ever-changing climate since 1780.
The museum has a focus on local topics, such as Charles Dickens, the Battle of Medway, Rochester, and the local area, plus a few interactive exhibits perfect for kids (of all ages.) The Rochester Guildhall was built in 1687 and is one of the finest 17th-century civic buildings in Kent.
Of the exhibits, we particulary delighted in the full-size reconstruction of part of a Medway prison hulk; and the 200,000 year-old axe that visitors can touch, a wide range of domestic artefacts from Darenth Roman villa and the most complete set of 18th-century cabinet maker’s tools in the world. It’s a really quirky walk through history.
Having sailed on the seven seas (without having to get our feet wet!) we wandered along the Medway River banks and then checked out some of the suburban lanes that hug the main street, before we stopped for a much needed cuppa and slice of cake at one of the cute cafes.
So, in summation, it’s a town filled with history, has a castle (check the opening hours before you visit) and has pretty darn excellent foodie credentials. You won’t leave empty handed if you’re anything like Mrs Curious Pixie and I.
Have you been on a daytrip to Rochester yet?
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