Saturday 19 February 2022 – Thames Valley Estuary Path Part 1: Tilbury Town to East Tilbury

Even storm Eunice could not stop the Polyramblers. The day after the storm, 13 Polyramblers joined me ,Dominique, (a little late due to delayed trains) at Tilbury Town. We headed for the docks and the ferry terminal along a boring road to arrive at the cruise terminal. In 1948, it was at Tilbury Docks that the first post-war Caribbean migrants arrived on the ship ‘Empire Windrush’ from Kingston, Jamaica. We stopped to read the information about the history of the docks. We followed the sea wall, passed the Worlds End Pub and reached Tilbury Fort that Chris was afraid we had missed. Henry VIII built the first fort here and Queen Elizabeth famously rallied her army nearby to face the threat of the Armada. The building we saw is a star-sharped bastion fort built in the late 17th century. Leaving the view of Gravesend on the other side of the Thames, the walk continued at the foot of the sea wall that protected the former Tilbury Power Station site and other industrial buildings.

The day was suitably grey and miserable to accommodate the post-apocalyptic scenery. The rain started when we were walking along an old landfill site with warning of quick sands on the fence. We reached the short section of the path that was shut and carefully walked along it. We were now walking along marshes on one side and fields on the other side. We reached Coalhouse Fort built to counter the threat of French seaborne invasion – which failed as I have lived here for a long time after arriving by ferry! We were soaked and glad to reach the Ship pub where we received a warm welcome and enjoyed a nice lunch. Suitably restored and drier, we followed the sea wall along marshes with East Tilbury and the old Bata factory in the distance. Just before reaching the Mucking Landfill site which has now become the Thurrock Thameside Nature Park (where we are walking on part two of the Estuary Path), we turned west towards East Tilbury. Then the muddy path started but it was not as bad as I feared, just a bit slippery. We reached the station 5 minutes before the train arrived.