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Friday, 19 November 2010

Walk 12 - Grain, Allhallows on Sea and Yantlet Creek on Isle of Grain/Hoo Peninsula

Walk 12 -  Grain, Allhallows on Sea and Yantlet Creek on Isle of Grain/Hoo Peninsula (Medway)

Map: L/R 178
Distance: About 8 miles
Difficulty: easy - flat
Terrain: reasonable but can be muddy on the tracks
Access: Car park at Grain - road parking at Allhallows on Sea
Public transport – Not the best. A 191 bus runs a few times a day from Chatham to Grain during the week, it goes via Allhallows which is about a mile from Allhallows on Sea (Check with Traveline for latest times)

This walk is made up of two short walks, both require backtracking. Take the path south from Grain, quite a pleasant walk to start with. Eventually you reach Grain Power Station a large oil fired blot on the landscape. (update - now demolished). Further down is a jetty where the path ends. Looking over the water Grain Tower can be spotted, this was part of a fort built to defend the River Thames in the mid 1800s. The fort has been demolished but the tower, rumoured to have secret tunnels connecting to the land, was used in both World Wars. A huge net was attached to it to prevent German U boats getting up the Thames.

Return to the starting point and carry on to the northern part of the path passing the beach at Grain. There is a commercial sand pit at the end backing on to a military range where red flags fly to warn of activity. Erosion has taken its toll on this part of the coast. All the area around here is marshland and in bygone times malaria (then known as marsh fever) was rife. Grain (Greon) means gravel. Return to starting point at Grain. Drive to Allhallows on Sea or, hopefully get a bus or possibly a taxi to The British Pilot pub.

The aforementioned pub was renamed (as far as I can tell) after a British pilot who baled out here after fighting with a German plane over the Thames. The settlement takes its name from the nearby village of Allhallows which is centred on a 12th century church. In the 1930s there was an attempt to make this place the premier resort in Europe – publicity of the time suggested that it would far surpass Blackpool. The idea was promoted by Southern Rail who built a branch line here. Unfortunately, World War 2 put paid to these plans and the railway was closed in 1961. Nevertheless, as can be seen, there is now a large holiday and caravan park.

Take the path to the east and head towards Yantlet Creek. This creek was once a fortified trade route operating from Roman times. You will come across two memorials. One is in the marsh and should be approached with caution especially as it marks the spot where an artist and naturalist drowned in 1975. It was laid by the Dickens County Protection Society. The walks around the Hoo Peninsula reflect the landscape known to Dickens and feature in many of his stories.  The second memorial commemorates the flood defences built here between 1975 and 1985 – underlining the fact that there is more to London’s flood defence than the Thames Barrier. 

Return to Allhallows on Sea.

Snaps show: container ship seen across the marshes; Yantlet Creek; Grain power station; shorelines near Grain; Allhallows on Sea.

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