Monday, 31 October 2011


Rainham, Essex → Tilbury

rainham-marshes.png Distance: 15.3 miles
Ascent: 92 metres
Duration: 4 hours 6 minutes

Finishing The Thames
« North Woolwich | Stanford le Hope »

fenced-in.pngI'll admit there was more open space on today's walk than last week's, but still the Thames mainly offers up heavy industry and an unending variety of Keep Out signs. One moment of respite was walking along the edge of the Rainham Marshes, which although not particularly scenic at least provided a view. The path here is only about ten years old, removing a long slog round the roads.

graffiti.pngOnce again much of today's walk has been accompanied by a high concrete wall, much of it covered in graffiti. At one point a young lad ducked away lest I see his new contribution in progress, but the smell of solvents when I approached it, and the rattling of the can as I passed gave the game away.

st-clements.pngFilm buffs won't be surprise to hear that the highlight of the walk was St Clement's church, West Thurrock. I've known about this place for twenty years, its setting beneath the complex chemical works of a soap factory providing the perfect location for the funeral scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral. The church is about three hundred metres away from the path, and although locked was well worth a visit if only for the obligatory photograph.

cruise-terminal.pngFinally, after yet more road walking around Tilbury Docks, I reached my destination just beyond the grandly named London International Cruise Terminal. Here is the less salubrious pier that hosts the Gravesend/Tilbury ferry upon which I had originally crossed the river on my coast walk back in 2000.

So having walked the 76 miles up and down the Thames between Gravesend and Tilbury via Tower Bridge, would I recommend it to others? Not necessarily. I'm glad I've done it; as ever I've come across things I would never have otherwise seen, but I've felt more nervous about personal security on the banks of this river than anywhere else and the reward frankly isn't that high.

If you are intent on walking the Thames estuary, the sections east of Tilbury/Gravesend and west of Woolwich are the best. Those in-between are best avoided unless you're a big fan of dirty, heavy industry.

Posted by pab at 17:54 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!