I went to school within sight and smell of the Thames at Greenwich and I’ve always thought that it was the tidal Thames that was most worth exploring. I wanted to walk from my home area down to the sea. This is the working Thames, the warlike Thames, the Thames that gave London much of its history. Always grand, sometimes frightening, often lonely, this is one of the wildest areas of south-east England.
The Thames Path National Trail ends rather prissily at the Thames barrier. But on this site you can find out a walk along the banks of the Thames in Kent, one of the most unknown and amazing walks in South-East England. You can also find a link walk connecting the end of the national trail at the Barrier with the beginning of this walk at Dartford- a sort of prequel for those who want to walk the whole of the Thames.
The walk can be extended by walking the first four sections and then joining the Saxon Shore Way at High Halstow.
The Kentish Thames Walk is not waymarked but it is all on rights of way.
It can be done as a long distance walk, on its own as a walk of about 36 miles, or as a grande finale to a walk from the source of the Thames, or in manageable day trip segments of between 7 and 10 miles.
Here are detailed guides to each section of the walk:
Each stage starts and finishes at a railway station or a bus stop with a frequent service, so the walk can be done as a series of day trips with easy access to London or most of Kent. However buses to the Hoo peninsula do not run on Sundays or bank holidays. Buses to Cliffe, High Halstow and All Hallows run to Rochester and Chatham, not Gravesend. Full details at Traveline south east
This is not really a tourist area, so many hotels are designed for overnight stays for those using major roads and on their way to somewhere else. There are clusters of hotels in Dartford, Gravesend and Chatham. You can find them on www.booking.com Have a look at the location and the reviews. Many hotels are out of town near the motorways and therefore not very convenient, although there are a cluster near the Dartford river crossing that could be useful. Some of the town centre accommodation gets poor reviews, so be selective.
In 2013 the Six Bells Inn at Cliffe had started doing accommodation.
Orchard Cottage in Cliffe Woods, a couple of bus stops away from Cliffe, gets consistently good reviews.
You could hire a caravan at the Haven Holidays site in All Hallows. Outside of the school holidays prices can be very affordable and the minimum stay is 3 days. You would have some distance to travel during the earlier walks.
This walk is part of the web site Travel Log Lewes
Do let me know your experiences on this walk at firstname.lastname@example.org
OTHER WALKS IN THE THAMES ESTUARY
Here more fascinating walks in this area, often in unexpected places. Here are some of them:
Dracula, outdoor art, concrete barges, an ace nature reserve, industrial sculpture, history and heritage, all accompanied by the mighty Thames as it makes its way to the sea. The walk can be divided into two halves of roughly 5 miles each at Purfleet station.
A walk of wonders symbolising the diversity of modern life. Sometimes you will wonder why never came here before. Sometimes you will wonder why you are doing the walk at all. Mega-malls and secluded woodlands, motorways and ancient sites, Places of delicious intimacy and places that are nowhere.
If you were looking for a tranquil walk with chalk cliffs, lakes, woods, natural treasures and pre-historic remains, you might not look at the area between Grays in SW Essex and the Lakeside shopping inferno. But here is where it all is. One of the great undiscovered joys of the London conurbation.