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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, 14 October 2018

Sunday Walk - Hoo Peninsula, Cliffe Pools RSPB Reserve, Thames Estuary: Higham to Gravesend

Length: 18.5 km (11.5 mi)
Ascent/Descent: negligible; Net Walking Time: 4 hours
Toughness:  2/10

Take the 10.26 Rainham (Kent) Thameslink train from Kentish Town (calls St. Pancras 10.32, Farringdon, Blackfriars, London Bridge 10.48, Deptford, Greenwich etc.), arrives Higham 11.49.
You can also take the 10.52 Sittingbourne train from St. Pancras I’nal (Stratford I’nal 10.59), change Gravesend (11.17/11.43). High Speed surcharge needed!
Return trains from Gravesend: Stopping services to Charing X (via Hither Green) on xx.18 and xx.48; High Speed trains to St. Pancras (via Stratford) on xx.42, Thameslink services (via LBG and St. Pancras) on xx.59.

This is a flat walk on the periphery of the Hoo Peninsula in northern Kent that visits the RSPB Reserve at Cliffe Pools, one of the most important wildlife habitats in the UK. You also take lunch in the interesting village of Cliffe whose history can be traced back to Norman times and possibly earlier. At low tide the extensive estuary mud flats are exposed and there are more opportunities to view the bird life. This walk is best done in autumn or spring to get the best out of the bird-watching opportunities as you walk around the path bordering the huge lakes and mud-flats of Cliffe Pools and by the river Thames. It is not a typical countryside walk and you are aware of the industrial heritage of the area but the spectacular landscape of open water, marshes and big skies is evocative and atmospheric with a rich sense of history. There are gravel working operations at Cliffe Fort but this does not detract too much from the walk.

Lunch: The Six Bells in Cliffe (5.9 km/3.7 mi, food 12.00-18.00).
Tea: not much, how about a Costa Coffee?

For summary, map, height profile, photos, walk directions and gpx/kml files click here. T=swc.209


PeteB said...

As the author of this walk I feel duty bound to tell you that the Saxon Shore Way is badly eroding and its probable that when you start on this path there will be a sign telling you the route is closed. However it is still passable but obviously you do this at your own risk. In particular when you reach the short stretch mentioned in para 22 of the walk instructions you may have to do a bit of scrambling up a bank. I have been unable to ascertain what, if any, work is being done to repair the path.

As Thomas's post makes clear this is not your typical SWC walk. Pretty it ain't but it is different (see the photos on the walk's page) and there are some good birdwatching opportunitiesat Cliffe Pools.

Thomas G said...

Well, as per April and August comments in the 'Comments' section of the walk (the August one by our reliable 'Man in Black' amib), the path has been repaired. We'll find out on Sunday...

Stargazer said...

n=3 set off on this journey under w=dark-foreboding-skies-turning-to-persistent-light-to-moderate-rain. The descriptions are all correct...this is not a usual Saturday country walk...but it is certainly not without interest. The Hoo Peninsula feels a very remote sliver of Kent with quite a stark Dickensian feel (perhaps the weather)...The morning largely crosses or skirts some horse paddocks and arable (or formerly arable) fields where we did forage some delicious late season pears in an abandoned orchard...The morning instructions required some interpretation at a few points -- but we did manage to arrive in Cliffe where we all enjoyed a Sunday roast -- slow in coming; but vast in serving....After lunch the real highlight...through the Cliffe Pools RSPB Reserve...where we spent some time looking at birds and the ghostly apparition of a cruise ship moving up the Thames in the fog...very atmospheric...Although some path closure signs do remain posted, the path around Cliffe Fort is indeed repaired -- though there are some very small sections of erosion a bit further along...causing no major difficulties. We were then surprised to meet a few ponies which turned into a huge herd munching the grass along the long riverside stretch into Gravesend...Arriving on the outskirts, you then pass through an area of delightful dereliction -- worthy of a Dickensian novel (which we figure will soon be razed for upmarket riverside flats). As we were just on time for the hourly Thameslink service, we opted to go directly to the station for the 17:59...forging bevies...though some google research did show an interesting mirco-brew/tap pub very near the station probably worth an investigation when next passing through...