Tuesday, July 14, 2020

Travel Tuesday : the Thames Path, day 18 - Gravesend to Allhallows-on-Sea

Walked June 22, 2002

I made my way back to Gravesend for my final walk on the south side of the estuary. I paused to admire the old Town Pier, which opened in 1834 and is the oldest surviving cast iron pier in the world. When I passed it was in the process of a lengthy refurbishment. Nowadays it is the landing point for a Tilbury - Gravesend ferry. 

A little farther along I passed the land-side of the Royal Terrace Pier, built in 1845 and used by steamers from London. It's now used by the by Port of London Authority as their offices flank the entrance.

Then I wandered through New Tavern Fort, an artillery fort primarily built in the 18th century to guard the Thames against French and Spanish raiders who were supporting the United States. The fort was redesigned in the mid-19th century to defend against newer iron-clad warships. But by the early 20th century the fort was disarmed and turned into pleasure gardens. And what pleasure garden is complete without a bandstand???

I walked along the promenade, and looked across the river at what I think is the Tilbury Coal Power Station. 

I had to go through an industrial area, and walked through this oddly scary alley in Milton.

But it was worth it, as I soon emerged to grasslands along the river. Ahhh. I would be following the Saxon Shore Way for the rest of the day. 

The Saxon Shore Way is another glorious long-distance path, starting in Gravesend and following the coast for 160 miles around to Hastings. I love Britain's long-distance paths... so many lovely walks!

My next stop was Shornmead Fort, completed in 1870 to defend against the French (of course!). Marshy soil and heavy masonry don't play well together, so the fort was abandoned in the 1950s. 

There's not much left inside, but I liked the the structure of the main wall. 

And, as usual, I loved the curved masonry above the gun ports. 

Farther along I climbed this stile ... or perhaps it's a ladder? ... to continue along the Saxon Shore Way.

As I rambled through Higham Marshes, I caught my first glimpse of Cliffe Fort in the distance. 

As I walked along the river on the Hoo Peninsula, I walked along the Cliffe Pools area -- which is now managed by the RSPB to preserve the bird habitat. To be honest I don't know whether it was an RSPB preserve then ... the fact that I saw what could only be called a car graveyard makes me think it wasn't. 

Wrecked and abandoned cars, and a wrecked and abandoned ship:

My notes tell me that this is a London Stone... but I think it can't be -- the location isn't right. 

As I followed the river, I could see a lot of strange, old, roofless buildings on Cliffe Marshes. I just looked on Google Maps and can see them there ... no labels, no info. Curious. 

The weather was fine and it was silent except for rustling grass as I walked through Cooling Marshes.

The path took me to Egypt Bay, a funny little bay. 

I sad down and admired the shells on the tiny beach:

and, yes, I took a handful home. 

En route to the next inlet, St. Mary's Bay, I passed some lovely marshy land. I love when marshes look like this. 

Looking across marshes looking to St. Mary's Bay and the Thames beyond:

Farther along I got to Dagnam Saltings at low tide. Note the WW2 pillbox out in the distance.

At the edge of the saltings an embankment protecting the Yacht Club (of course!) had been undermined by the river and the tides. That last step is a doozy, eh?

Past the yacht club, I walked along the edge of a caravan park, Allhallows-on-Sea. It seems like a really lovely place to have a little holiday... but it was very quiet.

Allhallows-on-Sea was the end of my walk for the day. I hopped on a bus and headed back. How could I resist taking a picture of the "Disco Drug Store"? I didn't realise they could be so open about it.

Next up: a day trip BY CAR to visit Kelmscott Manor, Seven Springs, and ... Staines? 

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