A day out into the nearby countryside

We are very fortunate to be able to enjoy the summer’s delight along the lower Thames Estuary.  The marsh land along the Swale overlooking Sheppey was looking at its very best just prior to harvest and fruit picking.  There’s a winding marshside lane which is bordered with orchard and pastured plump sheep grazing along a fast-flowing chalk stream, just by Teynham Church (just off the A2 before Faversham).



Delightful timber-built cottages as well as farmers’ barns interspaced between the tallest poplars for miles.  The narrow, twisty lane needs caution –maybe surprised by an unexpected hearse existing after a rustic open country funeral.  A previous visit was made when the opening event of this new, natural burial ground was attended by a fleet of funeral directors gathered under a white marquee, where a delightful tea was being served!!  A conversation with a teenage bride lying alongside her demised love in the wild grasses and flowers will long be remembered (not so romantic in the harshness of winter).  The surrounding marshland stretched for miles with not a soul to be seen except for a top sail Thames barge seemingly gliding along atop the distant sea wall.  Elmey Island bird sanctuary and the rising ground around Minster retained the secrecy and sanctity of this forgotten tideway.

In complete contrast, heaving Sittingbourne for ever expanding, even along the spare acres lining the fast track railway line which uses the hi-speed route into St. Pancras at the heart of the capital and which also passes by Gravesend – an unglamorous but fascinating Thameside town with much to be seen.  Here was the last resting place of the Indian Princess Pocahontas.  I recommend a day’s outing on the fine, traditional river launch of the same name, built in Bremen, which plies in the summer between Gravesend, Rochester, Greenwich and London.


A restored town pier has installed a modern launching pontoon from which the ferry to Tilbury runs (for the docks and the fine fort).  For the curious cameraman, shipping can be viewed and just downstream at industrial Northfleet once the hub of the cement and paper industry.


Much is changing beneath the white cliffs leading into Ebbsfleet Eurostar station, with even more housing into the vast chalk pits adjacent to Bluewater Shopping Centre.  Ah me!!!


PS Just a thought ….



About RiverWatch returns

Peter Kent shares his Thames riverside studio viewpoint

2 responses to “A day out into the nearby countryside”

  1. simonceliawedding says :

    Dear Peter:

    Thank you for this fascinating article with such a lot to explore! It is so easy to miss
    wonderful places nearby, but much easier with your guidance! Thank you!



  2. Nicholas Sack says :

    Peter – I much enjoyed your post about Gravesend and the Swale marshes, areas I have regularly explored on foot for many years. I agree that despite being knocked about, Gravesend is a fascinating town and many of the maritime connections remain for all to see. Until about 20 years ago the walk near the river to Northfleet was thrilling: a strange territory of massive industrial buildings and structures: a power station, a cable factory, the cement works.

    And I know the natural burial ground you mention, passed on walks from Teynham station to Conyer, along the Swale and across the marshes to Faversham. Near Luddenham and surrounded by orchards there used to be a spartan and isolated pub, the Mounted Rifleman, run by an old boy who tended his vegetable garden and fetched Fremlin’s beer from the cellar.

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