Sittingbourne to Colchester
|Date:||4th – 6th July 2022|
|Riders||Jane & Me|
Its often tricky to name the rides. This section also covers the Medway, Roach, Crouch, Blackwater and Colne Estuaries but its is the Thames that is most poignant, a great river that feels forgotten after winding its way majestically through the capital.
It seems you can make a lot of assumptions about a place depending on how much rubbish is dumped by the side of the road. Sittingbourne to Gravesend was heads down and pedal. It felt so unloved and possibly the least interesting part of the project so far. The exception was Rochester and it’s castle. Once at Gravesend we jumped on the first ferry and made our way to the north side of the Thames. We journeyed on rough tracks, lifted our bikes over flood defences, passed the remnants of forts and sidled by disused jetty’s before setting up camp at East Tilbury and eating the most disappointing pie & chips ever.
The next morning was a battle through miles of suburbia before another unassuming estate gave way to Hadleigh Castle Country Park. The sun was shining and we felt like we were back on track. Smoked Salmon and Scrambled Eggs overlooking the estuary in Leigh on Sea confirmed our suspicions.
In the high summer sun we traced the coastline through Southend on Sea and out to Shoeburyness, the coast beyond is MOD so we turned north to pick up the Roach Estuary stoping for a butty in a little park in Rochester. The landscape is simple, very flat but with very few wooded areas to help create interest. Once over the peninsula we telephoned the ferry man and made our way across to Burnham on Crouch where we crashed for the evening.
After a cooked breakfast we were off. A coffee in Bradwell on Sea (thats not by the sea) then a long ride into Maldon, the home of salt making. Lunch by the canal then a ride up high on the flood defence over looking the Blackwater Estuary. Back inland again, there are a lot of inaccessible marshes in this part of the world. Rehydrated curry for tea and an evening walk around the Mersea headland.
We retraced our route off the Island, got caught up in a road closure, pushed our bikes across fields, cycled 2 miles up the Colne Estuary only to find the path closed and got in the way of a fun run all on our ‘easy ride’ into Colchester.
Train into London for Lunch, before heading home.