17 April 2014

The Great Escape - a walk from High Halstow to Allhallows

With improved weather and a need to lose a few pounds (or more), I escaped the hustle and bustle of village life last weekend, to explore some of the great wilderness right here on the Hoo Peninsula.

With my Gravesend, Rochester and Hoo Peninsula map (Ordnance Survey 163) and some tasty spam sandwiches in hand, I set out on Saturday morning along footpath RS42, at the end of Longfield Avenue in High Halstow.

After zig-zagging through fields and a bluebell filled woodland I eventually joined up with Decoy Hill Road, where I headed north for Egypt Bay – on the signposted ‘Curlews, Convicts and Contraband’ walk.

Egypt Bay is at the end of Manor Way, along Halstow Marshes, and this quiet spot marked the completion of my first couple of miles – making it the perfect place to grab a bite to eat (a spam sandwich no less). Aside from imagining Abel Magwitch wading ashore from a dirty old prison hulk, made famous in the opening sequence of Great Expectations, Egypt Bay is a great place to observe shipping activity on the Thames and to glimpse over to the container port at London Gateway and neighbouring Canvey Island. The only interruption was a herd of curious cows (there must have been more than 50).

After the excitement of the cows, it was time to head east along the northern coastline, in the direction St. Mary’s Bay, St. Mary’s Marshes and Dagnam Saltings.

Although only a handful of miles from some of our local villages, the route along the Hoo Peninsula’s northern edge can feel extremely remote and distant. I met only four other walkers, a cyclist and a couple fishing the entire time I was out.

Four hours after setting off from High Halstow and having covered a distance of eight miles – I finally arrived in Allhallows, to the rear of The British Pilot pub. I didn’t have time though for a swift ale on this occasion.

It was great getting out to enjoy the fresh air and nice weather, and to spend some time appreciating our unique local landscape.

I hope to go for more long walks this summer, but maybe with fewer spam sandwiches next time!