Saturday, 3 June 2000


Tilbury → Stanford le Hope

[Crossing The Thames]

Distance: 10.6 miles
Ascent: unknown
Duration: unknown

Constructive weekends start here
« Rainham, Essex | Pitsea »

Time to get serious about walking. Time to start tackling East Anglia. Time to go down to Tilbury where the first foot ferry crosses The Thames from Gravesend. This is where my walk round Essex will begin.

In the name of completeness, after parking at Tilbury I rode the ferry to Gravesend and back. Upstream beyond the docks you can just make out the Queen Elizabeth Bridge, the first dry crossing of The Thames, although not open to walkers. Had I wanted to cross on foot I'd have had to walk to the foot tunnel that runs under the path of the Woolwich ferry.

[Tilbury Power Station]

East of Tilbury Fort, a power station squeezes the path into a narrow corridor along the river bank. Towards the far end of this wall I started paying attention to the graffiti it plays host to. Unusually the general tone was affirming, almost poetic. Something drew my attention to words written in a pale blue paint, low on the wall. "Do something constructive with your weekend," they suggested. Is attempting a circuit of the UK mainland constructive or just pointless? I'll wrestle with this a while yet, I think.

[Do Something Constructive With Your Weekend]

Eventually the path veers away from the river to make room for the appropriately named Mucking landfill site and heads for the village of East Tilbury.

Here, a weathered gent fell in step with me and we started talking about walking. After five minutes he ventured, "I expect you've noticed: I'm an amputee." To be honest I'd not; his stride seemed a little uneven but only now did I spot the reason. "Scared the wife something rotten climbing Tintagel with this," he said, tapping his leg.

And suddenly I realised that the people I meet on this project will be as varied and interesting as the landscape.

In 2009 I decided to walk up the Thames after all, perhaps crossing right in the centre of London on Tower Bridge.

Posted by pab at 22:05