We are travelling 104 miles today as we drive first along the north side of the River Thames and estuary, then back along the south side. One of our busiest days for traffic too as we skirt around the edge of London. However, there was a mid-October heatwave, so at least we are lucky with the weather!
Photo of the day
Pocahontas statue (yes, you read that right!) in a graveyard in Gravesend.
We started off with a short detour east from Southend-on-Sea to Shoeburyness at the mouth of the River Thames Estuary. Views northeast from Gunners Park towards Shoebury East Beach.
Interesting welcome signs at the entrance to the Thames. It is a shame that the war defences were covered in graffiti, but at least it brought some colour to the concrete.
Shoeburyness was a pleasant surprise, with smart military avenues and squares, mixed with newer developments. We also tried to continue further north past the St Nicolas Church at Great Wakering, but found ourselves heading into a Ministry of Defence area, so did a quick u-turn.
Heading back into Southend-on-Sea, we made a short stop at the beach by the Ness Road Slipway with views towards Southend-on-Sea.
The longest pleasure pier in the world at Southend-on-Sea, stretching into the hazy sunshine.
It is so long (1.34 miles) that you can take a train to the end!
The entrance to Southend Pier flanked by roller-coasters at Adventure Island.
Abandoned boats in the marshes on the edge of the Thames Estuary at Leigh-on-Sea.
Driving through Canvey Island (basically a large housing estate) we arrived at Canvey Point and the nearby Smallgains Marina.
More Thames defences at Coalhouse Fort. The original fortifications date back to the 15th century. More recently it has been used for a variety of purposes, including being featured at the start of the ‘Batman Begins’ film. It is now a pleasant park overlooking the Thames, where today families were enjoying the sunny afternoon.
The Worlds End Pub on the way to Tilbury Fort. Aren’t British pub names great?! This pub was haunted too!
Guns at Tilbury Fort. The first fort was built here by Henry VIII in the 16th century, and continued in use until after World War II.
Looking west up the Thames from Tilbury Fort to the cruise terminal and a wind farm project.
The Thames was busy with yachts, making the most of the lovely weather.
Heading south over the Queen Elizabeth II Darford Crossing Bridge.
Probably the biggest surprise of the day, finding a statue of Pocahontas in the graveyard of St George’s Church in Gravesend. Pocahontas had died on a ship on the River Thames close to Gravesend, and her remains are thought to be buried somewhere close to St George’s Church.
Heading across the Hoo Peninsula, we decided to stop at the quiet RSPB Northward Hill nature reserve. Along the track there were lovely views over apple orchards turning autumn red, quite a contrast to the shipping port at Stanford-le-Hope across the Thames.
A quaint cobbled lane leading down through Upper Upnor to the River Medway.
Upnor Castle had just closed for the day, so we took in the views across the marshes on the edge of the River Medway.
Another selfie moment at Rochester Castle, its orgins dating back to the 12th century.
The castle towering an impressive 113 feet high.
Red roofs of Rochester. Rochester was a well preserved historical town, and we learnt it had actually been inspiration for many of Charles Dickens’ novels.
The Norman Rochester Cathedral. Apparently Jools Holland is a big fan of the acoustics. We then made our way along the Medway to Chatham Historic Dockyard for dinner, before heading to Sittingbourne for the night.