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This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Sunday, 21 February 2016

Sunday First Walk - Thames estuary bird life and marshes

Extra Walk 209 Higham to Gravesend
Length: 18.4km (11.4 miles) Toughness: 3/10

10:16 Gillingham train from Cannon Street (London Bridge 10:20, Lewisham 10:28) arriving at Higham at 11:13.
Or 10:27 Ramsgate train (high speed service) from St Pancras (Stratford International 10:34), changing at Gravesend (arr 10:44; dep 11:07) on to the above train from Cannon Street.
Return trains from Gravesend are to Cannon Street at xx18 and xx:48 (journey time 47 minutes), or to St Pancras at xx:12 and xx:42 (journey time 24 minutes).

This is not a typical countryside walk but the vast open spaces of the lower Thames estuary offer a spectacular landscape of open water, marshes and big skies that is evocative and atmospheric with a rich sense of history and the area’s industrial heritage. In its revised version this walk proved popular on its first outing last year, and as the tide recedes in the afternoon, exposing extensive mud flats, there should be ample opportunities to view the bird life on the RSPB reserve around Cliffe Pools and the river Thames.

The recommended lunch stop is The Six Bells (01634 221459) in Cliffe. Do phone ahead to let them know how many walkers will be lunching there.

You will need to download the Walk Directions.

3 comments:

JohnnyHastings said...

Hope to join this walk, keeping a check on the weather.

PeteB said...

n=14 on this walk including Chris L who had set out an hour early to research a possible route incorporating the interesting village of Cooling which has a fine pub and a church mentioned by Dickens in Great Expectations. Its real Magwitch territory out there in the wilder hinterlands of the Hoo peninsula. Weather was w= mild-windy-with sun-in-the-afternoon; perfect for this type of walk.

The group - including two young women first-timers enjoyed the "different" landscape of this part of Kent and the Six Bells served up some excellent meat roasts (all under a tenenr) which is all they do on a Sunday. I felt a bit envious of a family group who had a superb buffet laid on for them at the pub after a "blessing" service at the nearby St Helen's church where I and another walker had lunched on a bench next to the Victorian Charnel House! (Its not as bad as it sounds; the churchyard is quite lovely with some terrific views over the Thames Estuary.)
After lunch we meandered along the trails through Cliffe Pools meeting an Oxford Birdwatching Group with some very expensive kit before we reached the Thames itself and headed along the Saxon Shore Way to Gravesend. Although flat, with the wind whipping off the river right into our faces it was quite a trudge along the 6km path to the "industrial sector" of Gravesend where I stopped for a quick coffee at a Costa's before being whisked back to Stratford on HS1. A different day out, enjoyed by all I think, especially if you like big skies and expansive waterscapes and an opportunity to reflect that our most important and often interesting environments are not necessarily twee "country" villages and "national parks".
I have added some further points to the walk comments page.

Karen said...

A very pleasant day out. Took our time in the morning so as not to arrive at the lunch pub too early. Despite an unusual business model involving hopeful diners calling ahead and ordering what they wanted to eat (choice of 3 roasts), and then waiting about 40 minutes once they arrived at the pub, the food when it came was very nice.

In the morning we traversed a field of curly kale, green on one half and dark purple on the other; the purple variety was new to most of us. In the afternoon, a nice birder allowed us to look through his expensive telescope and pointed out the teals, widgeons and godwits for us. Had a bit of a climb where the path had collapsed, but nothing a group of fit walkers couldn't handle. A nice bit of sunshine in the afternoon, then a few kilometers walking straight into the wind. Certainly blew the cobwebs away. The views out over the estuary were impressive. The last kilometer or two, through the semi-industrial outskirts of Gravesend are not the prettiest, but after battling the wind on the shore of the Thames, I was glad of the shelter provided by the derelict buildings, barbed-wire-topped fences and stacks of containers.