Day 332: Tilbury to Barking

Distance: 20.52 miles

Ascent: 704 feet

Weather: Light Rain Morning, Overcast but Dry Afternoon

Accommodation: Travelodge, Barking


It had blown a right old hooley and torrented down last night, though in my sort of hut I had been perfectly dry and warm. I can’t say I had slept that well as there were lots of thing banging around due to the wind and the hut due to still being under construction was actually vibrating a little.

I was up early and the forecast for today was terrible, whilst I was packing away you could still hear the rain thundering down and I had proposed to leave about 7:30 as was meeting my brother just under 9 miles away at 10:22. But around 7 the rain lightened and actually stopped so I decided to head straight away as was not expecting many dry patches today.

It was quite eerie setting off as it was still just dark through the industrial areas with the tugs and industrial ships drifting by on the Thames. Unfortunately this first part was not going to be very scenic having to head inland alongside the busy road on a pavement with HGV’s whizzing by passing Tilbury before slowly heading through Grays and back to the river.

Amazingly bar a few very light and short showers there still had been no rain, and this next section wedged between all the industrial sites and the river was quite a fun route. It was about 4 miles long and pretty much followed the flood wall sometimes on the landward side, sometimes the river side but it somehow found its way interestingly passed every obstruction including even a little sort of tunnel under one of the industrial jetties. It was also surprisingly colourful as there was literally miles of graffiti along the wall.

I reached Purfleet station where I would be meeting my brother quite early, just before 10am, and though I had been expecting to be a drowned rat by this time I was actually dry and just sat in the little station for the 30 minutes. My brother arrived and we set off straight onto the Rainham Marshes Nature Reserve which had an incredible café overlooking the marshlands but we didn’t stop. We had a couple of miles of nice walking around the marshes before it seemed to give way to some sort of old landfill and earth sorting site.

We had the second inland diversion of the day both to get around the creek but more to get around the giant Ford motor works. We decided to stop in Rainham for a bite of lunch and to our surprise there was a little national trust building (Rainham Hall) with an adjoining cafe so we went in there. We realised straight away we had made a bit of a mistake as the people in the cafe had lost control a bit and were unable to serve food at any rate but we waited and due to the early start it was not to big an issue that the food took a while. This inland part was not the most exciting bit once again following the pavement alongside a dual carriageway before taking a wiggly route back to the river through the industrial areas. Though not exciting walking I was quite impressed by my own planning to find this way around it all.

This next section along the river was probably the last grassed mile I would have on the entire walk, and in a way it was beautiful though there was the beginnings of a massive development just starting the other side of the fence. When we reached the sort of show home/office we turned inland again up Barking Creek.

This was again through a heavy industrial area and it was only a couple of miles until we were in Barking proper and my brother had booked a Travelodge there for the night. Amazingly it had not rained at all whilst walking with my brother which we were both grateful off as it had been one of the worst forecasts for months.

We chilled for a bit and then saw what Barking had to offer food wise which was quite a lot in fact. Barking appeared quite a mad place, very busy, very loud and not quite feeling like London yet. Also on getting back to the hotel, the heavens absolutely opened and there was a proper squall so we had been so lucky.

A good penultimate day, though a little anxious about the finish tomorrow.

charles compton