After the 5th successful T100 walking festival, here’s a round up of how it all looked from the boots on the ground!
Ali Pretty, a core team of Kinetika artists and some serious walkers set off from Grays on July 6th on a continuous 15-day journey around the Thames Estuary.
We were on mission to meet new people and see the places that we already know from a fresh perspective, starting a conversation that might change the way we feel about our landscape.
Wished well by an appearance from the renowned diarist Samuel Pepys, Lesley Robinson led us along to St. Clements’ Church; where we began our contemporary pilgrimage in the footsteps of many who have gone before us, the colours flooded in as we traversed Thurrock’s unique and ever-changing work of art, the graffiti wall.
Sunday revealed secrets of Purfleet, once famous for pyramids of juicy apples that now grow in the re-instated orchard of High House Production Park, and along the Mardyke Valley to find out where our water comes from Steve Mitchell at Davy Down. Then on to The Beacon Centre at All Saints Church where the Reverend Charlie sent us on our way with a special prayer for our journey.
On a sunny Monday, we met Shiva Dhatrak, head chef at La Tasca on the lovely Boardwalk at Lakeside for Spanish paella before heading down to the gorgeous gorges at Chafford Hundred for some drawing with Jo Beal.
Led by intrepid explorers Winnie Nyamu and Melvin Ndebele on Wednesday, we headed out to West Tilbury and across fields of wheat for tea and amazing home-made cakes at St. Catherine’s Church in East Tilbury, where we were blessed with a song by Les Morgan.
Over the marshes we headed out to Pitsea and then Benfleet ready for Friday’s feel good walk around Canvey Island. Phil Easteal put together a fascinating tour of Oil Island including a pint at the legendary Canvey Club washed down with Auntie Joan’s treacle cake.
A full turnout of friends from Tilbury and Southend joined us for a lovely visit to the vegetable gardens at Hadleigh Tearooms followed by a search for rare Heath Fritillary butterflies in Prittlebrook Woods before processing in with flags to Global Village at Village Green.
Sunday was a genuine mix, with ice creams and a talk from Mrs. Rossi followed by a shared picnic in Southchurch Park with Nina’s vegetarian samosas and Attila’s goulash washed down with sweet wine thanks to Southend’s Hindu and Hungarian Associations.
The beginning of week two signalled the first river crossing over to the other side, courtesy of Neil Woodbridge and the Thames Estuary Yacht Club, we alighted at Sheerness on the Isle of Sheppey where we were hosted at Rose Street Cottage of Curiosities by Chris and Geoff Reed of Big Fish Arts.
We had a welcome stay at The Ferry House Inn on the Isle of Harty and a tour of their wonderful local produce growing in the surrounding gardens set us up for river trip number two – eight of us in Wink Walpole’s fishing boat landed us safely in Faversham Creek.
A very informative and entertaining evening walk led by Colin Alderman took us through the old Faversham town and to The Hot Tin, where Mike Eden and Romana Belinger had prepared a tasty Goan curry and we were introduced to Ros from the Natural Dye works , Rich from Boutilliers the micro-brewery and heard all about peat, pesticide and plastic free Edible Culture.
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday were tough walking days, lightened by a ride on the Kemsley and Sittingbourne Light Railway, a stay at Green Farmhouse in Lower Halstow and an interesting evening tour of Gillingham, Chatham and Rochester led by Joan Bullivant.
On Saturday at dawn, a rainbow appeared on the ferry crossing back over to Tilbury, before the heavens opened soaking us right through.
Then the sun came out for Tilbury Carnival. What a home-coming this was, as we reunited with our Thurrock friends and families, dancing in the streets with Twirlers, Irish dancers, Sea Cadets, bouncy puppets and brass bands, singing with choirs, skanking to the reggae tunes down at the Cruise Terminal, chomping on Romanian pastries and laughing with relief as the whole journey was completed with an emotional finale that brought all of the community together for one last dance. Until next time.
We can’t thank all of you enough for preparing and leading walks, hosting and feeding us all the way round, for participating in Carnival and for making the Thames Estuary on both sides of the river a fascinating, rich and inventive place to live and work.
The full list of project credits is here.
The T100 project photographer is Mike Johnston, see all photos from 2019 in his Flickr album
Thurrock 100 would like to extend a huge thank you to its funders and delivery partners without whom this project would not have been possible.