My 2022 Walks
In early January 2022 I read about the official opening of a new 47 mile (76 kilometre) section of the England Coast Path between Grain and the Woolwich Foot Tunnel in East London. Grain is an area on the Kent coast where the Thames Estuary meets the Medway Estuary and the sea. To coincide with this, the Thames Path was extended by just over 1 mile from the Thames Barrier to Woolwich Foot Tunnel. This means that for the first time there is now a fully signposted 'Source to Sea' walking route. The total distance from the source at Thames Head to the sea at Grain is 232 miles (373 kilometres).
I watched the following YouTube video from Natural England and this was the inspiration I needed to set myself a new walking challenge for 2022; however, rather than walk from 'Source to Sea', I would walk from 'Sea to Source'. Watching the video also cost me a lot of money, as it inspired me to buy myself a drone! Having previously walked the Thames Path in both directions, arriving at the monument in the field at Trewsbury Mead in Gloucestershire gave me a much greater sense of achievement than arriving at the Thames Barrier. If you think about it, the Thames Barrier is just an arbitrary spot to finish the Thames Path, whereas Trewsbury Mead is literally set in stone as the source of the river (I'm ignoring those people who claim the source is actually 11 miles further away towards Cheltenham!).
So, I began to plan the practicalities of walking the England Coast Path section bearing in mind I live in Northamptonshire. It was clear that I wouldn’t be able to walk this entire section as day trips from home. It was also clear that the section between Grain and Cliffe would have to be done as one very long walk due to the remoteness of the area. Beyond Cliffe, it looked like Greenhithe would be a good place to target as the end of a second section, with Greenhithe to Woolwich as the third section. As a solo walker you don’t have the option of jumping into a car at the end to take you back to your car at the start, unless you’re happy to fork out for a taxi. Grain and Cliffe do have good bus services to Strood, not necessarily on Sundays or Bank Holidays though. It would be necessary to get to Grain quite early to ensure I wouldn’t miss the last bus back to Strood from Cliffe. With a Senior Railcard, a High Speed train service from St Pancras to Strood, an old timer’s bus pass, the costs of fuel and crossing the river at Darford and the 100+ mile distance from home, driving really wasn’t an attractive option!
Weighing up all of the above I decided I’d use the train and book a couple of nights at the Rochester Premier Inn (actually in Strood - and more precisely Borstal!!). This would enable me to complete Grain to Greenhithe, leaving Greenhithe to Woolwich as a day trip.
If you look at my albums of previous Thames walks, you’ll no doubt have surmised that it is no coincidence that all my photos were taken on sunny days! All I needed now to get started were 2 consecutive sunny midweek days. With other commitments taking precedence, I settled on Wednesday 20th April as the day I would start my 2022 challenge. I gave myself 18 days or less (not necessarily consecutive) as a maximum target to reach Trewsbury Mead. I arrived at this by adding 3 for the England Coast Path section to 15 (1 less than I did in 2021) for the Thames Path.
By pushing myself I completed my challenge in a total of 15 days - 3 for the England Coast Path and 12 for the Thames Path. I did my walks between April 20th and June 26th.
Looking back at my walks, the England Coast Path sections reflect the working river as it is now with the huge ships, container ports and oil storage depots. The Thames Path sections reflect what happened to the working river in London after the docks closed at the end of the 1960s, with all the regeneration that has since taken place. I'm so pleased to have completed the walks from Grain.
Click or tap on any of the following photos to be directed to the pages of individual walks. As with my previous walks, my photos are best viewed on a PC or tablet.
Flickr is the photo sharing platform that I use to store and share my photos. If you click or tap on the 'Flickr ->' button on any of the following photos, you will be taken to my Flickr album corresponding to the selected walk. These albums have even more photos than I have included on this website.
If you've not used Flickr before, you will be greeted by this daunting looking screen. This is basically a cookies screen that you get whenever you visit a website for the first time. If you click or tap 'Save and Exit' without making any changes to the default choices, this screen will go away.