Day 331: Bowers Marshes to Tilbury
Distance: 18.97 miles
Ascent: 429 feet
Weather: Moderate Rain & Wind
Accommodation: The Worlds End Pub, Outbuilding, Tilbury (Kindly Offered)
I had a weird premonition about today that it would throw lots of little issues at me sort of in homage to the walk overall. At least my pitch spot had been good, though actually condensation had settled on the bridge above and was slowly dripping a little on the tent though much less water than would have hit the tent if I had been out in the incessant rain.
The first part of the day I was unsure about as there was a relatively new reserve here that was not on the OS map. I followed my plotted route which took me across the Marsh Bowers reserve unfortunately in the rain and it was the final 700m or so where the issue could be as I needed to cross a field to join a public road but after a simple gate climb I had navigated the first issue easy enough so maybe my premonition was wrong.
From here I took a track that followed the railway closely for about a kilometer before it turned off. I was heading down a narrow path when I heard an almighty noise, I was wondering what is was but then less than 50m later 2 crates of bricks at the back of a large builders merchants type of place were scattered across the path. I am not sure if these bricks were the noise but I guess so and as the crates were 3 thick I bet the merchants didn’t even know about it. If it was the bricks that made the noise if I had been literally 30s earlier, I would have been hit fairly hard.
Straight after this I hit absolute complete muddiness in fact it was so bad even at the very edges it was almost coming over my boots so I had to head up a driveway to find an alternative route around which fortunately was not too hard. I was starting to believe the premonition may be coming true.
Straight after this there was a beware of bull sign, but no sign of a bull so carried on. But then there were some cows in a field but recently I have had no issues so calmly walked across, but half way across the cows perked up and then a couple started to approach in an aggressive manner. I wondered why and then noticed the 4 or 5 very little calves hidden on my right in the grass and I quickly backed off and once I got about 50m away they stopped heading towards me. The only slight issue is I now had to find an alternative route which again fortunately was not too complicated.
The next bit I knew could be a bit hit or miss as I sort of skirted Fobbing (what a name!) and Corringham. Just as I passed the church near Corringham Hall I found the footpath sign but it directed me straight into a impregnable wall of brambles which clearly hadn’t been broken in years. Again, fortunately it was not too difficult to divert around but just another of the issues today.
I had been seeing signs for a Thames Estuary Path but as it was not on my OS map I was not sure where exactly it went, at times it seemed to head in my plotted direction but other times it headed further inland. At this stage I just followed the route I had plotted and when I was on the Thames Estuary Path parts the path seemed to be a bit better.
I rejoined the river edge and after crossing a sluice gate bridge I was onto the relatively recently formed Thurrock Thameside Nature Reserve. In the middle of this there is a very impressive visitor centre with a little café and due to the rain I decided to take my break in here. The next part of my walk was actually red flagged on my spreadsheet as there was about 300m from where I was onto the path which was on the other side of what I had thought was an old derelict industrial site. Unfortunately it was not derelict and the travelling cranes were still in use which was a bit of an issue. But whilst on my break I had asked about the Thames Estuary Path and fortunately it had a route however circuitous around the industrial site.
This slightly annoying alternative added a couple of miles on but at least the path was of very good quality and it did not take me long to rejoin the riverside. It was starting to rain harder and the wind was increasing but the route of the next stage was quite fun using some of the old sea defences. I passed Coalhouse Fort which though impressive appeared mostly derelict before rejoining the riverside path. I loved this stage down at the base of the sea wall with views over to the other side of the Thames and passing some impressive ships (from the oil industry I think).
Right towards the end of the day I passed Tilbury Fort which appeared well maintained and was quite impressive and just after this I reached The World’s End Pub which is just by the cross Thames Ferry. It was clear the weather was about to get much worse so I had made it just in time. The pub had kindly given me permission to pitch in the garden but with the inclement weather Alan (I think the owner) offered to let me stay in a log cabin which was under construction in the back yard. It had no electric, no toilet, no lights yet but that didn’t matter to me I was incredibly grateful as it would provide me with shelter through the strong winds and rain forecast tonight. On top of this he kindly gave me my dinner for free, which was lovely and a massive portion
My premonition was sort of correct, from extreme mud, aggressive cows, non existent paths, rain, brick collapses and even diversions around industrial areas but all of the issues were fairly easily overcome and I am sort of glad today was like that as it made me reminisce about the other tougher times of the walk. The final kind offer at the end was also reminiscent of other times on the walk.
Looks like I will finish as I began, as the second day had stormy conditions and looks like the second to last will as well.