Monday, 16 June 2014

Rochester Estuary Walk

A 50 minute car journey from Harringay and it feels like you are by the sea. This walk takes you along the river Medway and its estuary and takes in a castle, quaint streets, a shoreline amble and then the flat salt marshes of Kent, all very Great Expectations. Popping into Rochester on the way back to see Cathedral, oldy worldy houses along the high street and another castle is an added bonus.

The sea covers the first part of the walk along the shore, so make sure you avoid high tide. Click here for tide timetables

The walk is 4-5 miles and takes around 2.5 hours and is a good walk for all seasons. 

How to Get There
Easy to get to, through the Blackwall Tunnel and along the A2 to junction 1 on the M2, then A289 and a short journey on the small roads to the car park at Upnor Castle. Don't be tempted to start the walk any further towards Rochester, it's a let down.

Tea and Cake 
The are several pubs in Upnor. Alternatively Rochester is brimming with tea shops, the Cathedral cafe serves lovely cream teas in a delightful garden. 

The Walk 
I'd recommend a 'there and back walk' as the circular walk is rather boring. The purple line is the route. 

The short diversion down Upnor's short cobbled street with its traditional Kent weather boarded houses is well worth it. At the end you look across the estuary to Chatham docks. Upnor Castle was built to defend this hugely important dockyard in the 16th Century. 

Upnor's Cobbled Street with good views of the river Medway at the end. 
Retrace your steps and you descend the hill towards lower Upnor via a footpath to the right of the road. Shortly before you leave lower Upnor you might come across the two London stones which mark the end of the City of London's fishermens right to fish, the smaller stone is dated 1204.  

After Lower Upnor you just walk along the beach. 
The beach walk along the Medway 
Past Hoo Marina and you keep to a footpath beside the estuary advancing along that semi industrial landscape at the margins with the power station silhouetted in the near distance, which marks the far end of the walk. 

The muddy estuary is dotted with loads of waders and other birds. When you reach the power station just turn back and retrace your steps and enjoy a new set of vistas as you return. 

The estuary at low tide with waders dotted around. 

More History 
Around a mile into the beach walk you would have come across the remains of a red brick building, another remnant of our maritime history, Cockham Wood Fort.
Cockham Wood Fort (Richard Cruttwell)
It was built in 1667 to house 24 guns after the disastrous Dutch raid on the English naval fleet docked in the river. It was the worst defeat the British navy ever experienced, threatened to destabilise England and ended the second Anglo dutch war. The tension and panic in London is captured powerfully by Samuel Pepys contemporary diaries,  the full story is here.

The Dutch in the Medway William Scellinks 1667 (with Upnor Castle silhouetted in the flames) 

1 comment:

  1. Love your walks! The old houses with the cobblestone street is my favorite here. Thanks for sharing your pics.