It wasn't such a great ride today though the Thames Estuary - or what I used to call the Thames Gateway. The low lying land means you're not that close to the water and the drivers in Kent and Essex are a hell of a lot more aggressive than those on the south coast. The Strava route took me on a mix of busy roads and quieter lanes. The landscape in these parts is generally gritty and flat; big logistics sheds, power lines and industrial structures dominate the low horizon.
I cycled across the Isle of Sheppey to Sheerness with its busy port handling motor cars and fruit and veg. It's on the edge of England, and it feels it. Although it is a busy seaside resort I could find few redeeming features except for a delightful piece of miniature pavement art tucked away on the most deserted section of the promenade showing a mouse and its shopping list. Then on to Gillingham, Chatham - where the dockyard was sadly closed dues to COVID19 - Rochester and Gravesend. There I took the small ferry across the River Thames to Tilbury.
On the north bank of the Thames sits Tilbury Fort which has protected London’s seaward approach from the 16th century through to the Second World War. Henry VIII built the first fort here, and Queen Elizabeth I famously rallied her army nearby to face the threat of the Armada. The present structure is much the best example of a star layout in England, with its circuit of moats and bastioned outworks.
From there I took a detour through the Thameside Nature Park with its gravel paths until I emerged onto the dual carriageway that leads down to DP World London Gateway Port deep sea container terminal; huge lorries stacked with containers roared up and down. Strava sent me down a road that was fenced off at its end so I retraced my steps and was forced to navigate one of the most complex series of roundabouts I have ever come across chased by the aforesaid lorries and Essex boy racers.
I was relieved to get to Canvey Island and pleased to be there in time to check out The Labworth Cafe which was Ove Arup's first building constructed 1932-33 which he designed to resemble the bridge of the Queen Mary. Although it looked a bit bleak with its shingle protection shutters on the front windows, you could see what Ove was getting at.
Faversham to Canvey Island 133km