I started out from St. Mary’s Church, in the hamlet of Church Street and within the Parish of Higham and Merston, at the very western end of the Hoo Peninsula. Before setting off, I had a good look round this lovely old building - originally Norman, but remodelled and enlarged in the 14th century. One of two Churches on the Hoo Peninsula managed by The Churches Conservation Trust (the other being St. James’ Church at Cooling) an information board inside proudly boasts that Charles Dickens’ daughter Katey married there in 1860.
With my Ordnance Survey map in hand (Gravesend, Rochester and Hoo Peninsula -163), I headed north following the Kent County Council walking route NS138, also labelled as the ‘Naughty Nuns and Nightingales’ walk. Not sure it’s the right time of year to see either though!
Although it was a lovely sunny morning, it was predictably very muddy under foot for the long stretch northwards passing ditches, pools and the nearby Gravel Works (towards Cliffe Pools). Predictably in hindsight that is - as unusually I didn’t bother to wear my walking boots. A lesson well and truly learnt!
Eventually arriving at the Shorne Marshes Nature Reserve and Higham Saltings, there were good views across the River Thames, of Cliffe Fort and, on the opposite side of the river, Coalhouse Fort.
I then headed westward along the Saxon Shore Way towards Shornmead Fort and then, after a short distance, south towards Beckley Hill - passing Barrow Hill on route. After crossing back over the railway line, I returned on the track back to St. Mary’s Church.
Although I doubt that too many ‘festive’ calories were burnt up on this walk, it was really enjoyable all the same, and getting some New Year fresh air is never a bad idea. It took just over an hour to complete - but would have been quicker with proper boots on!
For more information about St. Mary’s Church, visit the Friends of St. Mary’s Church (Higham) website by clicking here.
More information about this walk can be found here.