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.
After a few weeks break from our coastal road trip, we are now continuing our journey, this time over four days from Ipswich in Suffolk to Worthing in West Sussex. Hence the sunny weather in the Ipswich picture (September), then a bit gloomy as we continued into Essex (October).
Photo of the day
A helter-skelter on Clacton-on-Sea’s pier.
Our last photo as we finished the first 5 weeks of our Coastal Road Trip at Ipswich Waterfront. Feeling quite pleased with ourselves!
Working our way down the south side of the River Stour we made the first stop of the day at Mistley Towers in Essex, the remains of the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin.
The wooden Ha’penny Pier at Harwich, named after the original toll charge for the Victorian pier. The Port of Felixtowe in the gloomy background.
The Lightvessel LV18 moored off the Ha’penny Pier, the last surviving example of a manned Trinty House light vessel, now a museum.
Harwich High Lighthouse that was used in combination with the Low Lighthouse as a leading light for Harwich Harbour.
And the Low Lighthouse on the promenade, now the local Maritime Museum.
Then just a few minutes further along the coast we reached the two matching iron towered Dovercourt Low and High Lighthouses.
Walton on the Naze
The navigational Naze Tower north of Walton on the Naze. With a beacon at the top, it was used as an early form of lighthouse to guide ships through the Goldmer Gap.
Walton on the Naze Beach… and the sun trying to make an appearance. Yay!
Walton on the Naze Pier. To be honest we had seen better looking piers, though the brightly painted beach huts attempted to brighten-up the area.
Frinton On Sea
A rather elaborate looking clock tower shelter on the Frinton Beach Esplanade.
More beach huts adding some colour to Holland Haven near Holland-on-Sea.
Stopping for some lunch at Clacton Pier.
The helter-skelter looking a bit spooky on the deserted pier.
Just proving we were there 😉
Some rather scary looking steps down to the sea from the pier.
Clearly we were out of season with the empty entertainment noticeboards.
If it’s not lighthouses it’s beach huts today!
A rather unloved looking boat at West Mersea….
… and the houseboats looking like they are in the middle of a field.
Another Trinity Lightship, also with the illusion of being moored in a field.
The picturesque lock at Heybridge Basin, joining the Blackwater estuary and the canal to Chelmsford.
Old Thames barges moored at Maldon’s Hythe Quay.
The barges had been beautifully restored, several are still in use as charters.
As walked down a long farm track to the remote St Peter’s Chapel we came across this funny sign. Something was ‘coming soon’, not sure what…
St Peter’s Chapel on the headland near Sales Point, one of the oldest Chistian churches in England, dating from the 7th century. Around a thousand years later, in the 17th century it was in use as a barn. You can still see where the barn doors were placed on the side.
We were surprised that the church door was open, so we had a quick look inside. Pretty good condition for 1,400 years old!
The Yacht Harbour at Burnham-on-Crouch, our final stop of the day before heading to Southend-on-Sea for the night.