Thursday, 7 July 2011


The Saxon Shore Way is a 160-mile long-distance walking route which loops around the south-east corner of England. It is named after the historic fortifications which were built at the end of the Roman era to defend the Kent coast. Those who choose to start the walk at its southern terminus, Hastings, will finish up in Gravesend, on the Thames estuary, where they will be treated to superb views of the passing shipping. Gravesend is also the starting point for another long-distance path called the Wealdway, which follows an inland route ending up at Eastbourne.

The shipping heading up the Thames, which includes cruise ships heading in and out of Tilbury Docks, is guided by tugs which leave from the Royal Terrace Pier, and the Port of London Authority has its headquarters here. One of the waterfront’s most striking landmarks is St George’s Church, rebuilt in the 18th century. The churchyard has a bronze statue of Pocahontas who married John Rolfe, a colonist of Virginia, and accompanied him to England in 1616, though she died the following year. In 1892 a steamer arriving in Gravesend brought a much more unwelcome visitor: cholera. The steamer, called Gemma, came from Hamburg, where there had been an outbreak of cholera, and several of the passengers died from the disease after disembarking, sparking mass panic.

For events in Gravesend see here.

Map of the area.

Gravesend town pier. Photo by Clem Rutter, via Wikimedia Commons

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