…well, in places.
We went for a very long walk yesterday. For Christmas, Ben and Jackie gave us some binoculars, a bird-watching guide and a map of the Thames Estuary around Southend/Rochester. We had been saving up this walk for a sunny day and, as it was so lovely yesterday, we decided to head out and give it a go. Before we left, we studied the map to see where the best point to get off the train was and decided on Gravesend due to the bird symbols and the presence of a path along the marshes.
It was quite windy in Gravesend as we battled our way along the water front and tried to follow the path on the map. Quite soon we were in a rather grim industrial area, surounded by high fences and ‘Keep out!’ signs, but we put our heads down and kept on going. It all felt a bit like work really, like doing one of my projects: we stopped a few times to take photos of trolleys and I had on my GPS to keep track of the distance. Eventually, it started to feel a little bit like being in the country, as we walked between a Metropolitan Police firing range and a railway line and wondered when we might see the birds. We did see a fox, but we have those in our garden, so nothing new there.
By now I was beginning to get hungry and in need of a sit down, so we looked at the map and decided to go a different way, towards a country park which we thought might offer up more interesting picnic areas. It wasn’t close by though, so lunch was a distant dream – Edward said ‘when we’ve done five miles, we can eat’ but when we hit five miles we were crossing a main road and it didn’t seem very inviting. Eventually we found a nice spot at six miles and thoroughly enjoyed our packed lunch.
I shouldn’t have sat down: getting up was hard work and my walking boots had started to rub badly, so walking on was a challenge…but we had a way to go yet. It was much nicer in this area, and we hardly saw anyone, so a refreshing break from the intensity of London, but we were soon back into the industrial grime that the Thames Estuary has to offer as we made our way towards Rochester. It’s strange that, on the map, you see all these marked paths/cycle rides and the council put up ‘Public Footpath’ signs, but they lead to the most awful places – at one point we wondered if anyone else spends their weekend walking through industrial estates.
We did eventually arrive in Rochester and stopped at the first place we found – Morrisons (classy) – for a cup of tea and custard tart and then found the station to make our way home. It was quite a long walk, but not the scenic bird-watching day-out we had imagined, maybe we need to head to the other side of the estuary…
Time: 4 hours 59 minutes 44 seconds
Distance: 12.48 miles
Average Pace: 24.01
Best Pace: 10.28
(we were covered by trees for part of the walk, so this might have interfered with the GPS results, so it might have been even longer!)
It was a relief to take off my boots: I had blisters on both heels and sore, swollen ankles. Boo. Not sure what Wainwright would make of such a walk.