I can hardly feel my legs today, following a 160 kilometre cycle ride on Sunday from Blackheath to Gravesend, then around the Hoo Peninsula, taking in Allhallows and the Isle of Grain. From there, I and a velopedist companion proceeded to Rochester for the Morris dancing at the Sweeps Festival, and finally I made my way back to the ranch via Gravesend and Dartford.
It was a excellent day out, and thanks are due to my friends from Bexley Cyclists, who I met up with in Gravesend under a heavy grey sky, which thankfully rose and cleared as we pootled up the northern side of the peninsula towards Cliffe. From there we continued to High Halstow, and a refuelling stop by the estuary near Allhallows.
Sheltering from a stiff wind in the lee of a bank overlooking Yantlet Creek, we could hardly hear ourselves talk above the racket created by a squillion marsh frogs going about their springtime courting rituals. If you’ve never heard the sound of these frisky amphibians, a sample of their throaty song can be found here.
The Hoo Peninsula is a most interesting place. Part industrial and part nature reserve, the Hoo is home to power stations and oil terminals, marshland and bird sanctuaries. Some of the land is reclaimed from the sea, and the area as a whole is testament to how much can be achieved in a relatively short space of time with a well managed environmental regeneration programme.
If, heaven forfend, you should find yourself holed up in London, and can afford to take a day out from your travails, I recommend a tour of the Hoo Peninsula, preferably self-powered on two wheels rather than a motorised four. Starting from Gravesend railway station, you can take in most of the area with just 50–60 km under the pedals.