I’m always trying and see and do more things outside London, but the actual travel to and from often puts me off. I can’t always be bothered to take a bus and a tube to get to King’s Cross or Paddington and then start an even longer trip. But when I learned Rochester is only 50 minutes away from my nearest train station I figured it might be interesting for a day trip to explore the castle, walk through the historical city centre and check out locations that were featured in the books of Charles Dickens.
Rochester Castle is 800 years old and while it might not be as impressive as the previous castle I visited, it was interesting to see a fort completely stripped back to stone walls, arches and steps, letting your imagination run wild thinking about how things must have been. Head to the top for some wide-reaching views of Rochester and the surrounding area, and see if you can spot where you’ll be heading next.
Across the street you’ll find the second oldest cathedral in England – Rochester Cathedral, which you can visit for free and enjoy its grand mix of Romanesque and Gothic architecture styles. And if you’re lucky you might find a brilliant local food market if you visit on a Saturday.
With the two main attractions crossed of my list it was time to walk the cobbled high street packed with independent, vintage and charity shops housed in beautiful old buildings. Most of them scream #prettyshopfronts or #ihavethisthingwithshops.
After the cold castle and cathedral I needed somewhere to warm up and ended up at Deaf Cat Coffee. I was feeling like a sandwich or toastie to go with my coffee and this seemed like the place to go. Sadly the sandwiches looked like pre-prepared and the cakes and cookies not inviting at all.
I must have walked the main street three or four times and kept seeing new places like Baggins Book Bazaar – England’s largest second-hand bookshop and the Guildhall.
The idea was to have a sandwich around 11 and then go to Tiny Tim’s Of Rochester for a cream tea. But as Tiny’s Tims was fulled booked up we ended up having that sandwich at The Quills.
Next on the agenda was spotting some buildings featured within the pages of Charles Dickens’ works. My favourite was Eastgate House, which was a boarding school in Dickens’ time, and was featured as school for young ladies in The Mystery of Edwin Drood and The Pickwick Papers. When I visited I really enjoyed looking at all the Christmas decorations through the ages. There are sections dedicated to Dickens, the girl’s boarding school and the people who lived there afterwards.
Restoration House, which was used in Dickens’ novel Great Expectations as the home of Estella and Miss Havisham was my next destination. Sadly it was closed when I was there, if you are going during winter season it might be good to check the opening times as I was interested in the Six Poor Traveller House and Upnor Castle, but they had weird opening hours for the winter season.
How to get there?
Rochester is a short train ride (40-45 minutes) from either St. Pancras International or Victoria train stations in London. From Rochester station it’s a few minutes walk to the historic town centre.