12 January 2022
We’re one step closer to the walking the coastline of England, as the latest stretch of the England Coast Path opens in North Kent today.
The nearly 50-mile route connects Grain to Woolwich, joining the coast path with another National Trail, the Thames Path. It is the first time that Central London has been connected to the sea via a continuous route for walkers.
The England Coast Path
The England Coast Path, won through years of Ramblers campaigning, is an inspirational project to create the world’s longest continuous coastal trail. At almost 3,000 miles long, the path will stretch around the entire English coastline. Not only will this open up new paths, but it will also create new areas of open access land so people can freely explore headlands, cliffs and beaches, right up to the water’s edge.
Ramblers volunteers have been supporting Natural England to create the coast path over the past decade. It’s a huge project that is now entering its final year, with 35 of the 67 stretches open or approved already.
The latest stretch - Grain to Woolwich
Ian Wild, Ramblers Coastal Access Officer for Kent, has been working with Natural England on the Kent section of the England Coast Path since 2010. He originally walked and surveyed the Grain to Woolwich stretch in 2009.
“This is a fascinating stretch of contrasts. When you leave Grain you are soon walking in the remotest part of Kent with views to seaward of the Thames and Essex coastline and inland over wide areas of reclaimed salt marsh. You can walk for twelve miles without coming across any houses.
I found a number of historic sites along the way including Cliffe Forte which was built in the 1860s and where you can still see the launcher of the Brennan electric torpedo: arguably the world’s first practical guided missile.
There are a number of small sandy bays which I never expected to find so close to London. From Gravesend to Woolwich the environment becomes heavily urban and industrialised but still with many points of interest like the Victorian Pumping Station at Erith.”