A 47-mile nature trail leading from Woolwich to the Kent coast along the wild stretches of the Thames Estuary has opened.
The path offers an unbroken walking route to Grain, an area of North Kent where the river Medway and Thames meet, passing sites such as Shornemead Fort and Swanscombe Peninsula, a recently designated wildlife habitat.
It is the latest stretch of the 2,700 mile England Coast path to open, which will form the longest coastal walking route in the world when complete.
Marian Spain, Chief Executive of project-leader National England, said: “At a time when the benefits of connecting with nature are clearer than ever, it’s fabulous that we are opening up this 47 mile-long section of footpath from the capital to the Kent coast.
“Easily walkable in all weathers and readily accessible by public transport, it is a wonderful new recreational resource for the hundreds of thousands of people who live nearby, as well as a tourist attraction for those who will come from around the world to walk the whole path.”
The path begins in Woolwich, offering view of the London skyline, then passing the impressive Thames Barrier, which protects London from flooding.
The route passes the many independently run wharves handling goods arriving by large maritime vessels.
A section of the path takes visitors through the recently designated site of special scientific interest at Swanscombe Peninsula, where an industrial history has resulted in habitats that provide ideal conditions for a unique variety of wildlife.
The Thames Estuary also has a long and rich military and industrial history, passing by forts such as Shornemead, near Gravesend, which were installed to protect London in the 1860s.
The route also pass under the largest pylon in the UK and below the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, which is the busiest estuarial crossing in Europe.
Between Allhallows and Cliffe in Kent, you can walk more than 12 miles (nearly 20km) without passing another coastal village or car park.
There are pocket beaches and extensive mudflats full of wintering wading birds. Along the river, you may also see the occasional grey seal hauled up on one of the many small beaches.
The route ultimately reaches Grain on the Hoo Peninsula, where you can enjoy views across to Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey, to Southend-on-Sea, and the confluence of the Medway and Thames.
For more information about the walking route, visit: www.nationaltrail.co.uk
Have you got a story for us? You can contact us here.
Sign up to our newsletters to get updates sent straight to your inbox.