Where the Medway meets the Thames and spills out into the Channel there are birds, industry and walking places. The Riverside Park at Rainham is one such place and on this bright November day, a good one after a week of gloomy grey clouds, I explored the length of the pathways.
The intention was to have a look at the river along the road from Sheppey and Iwade. The tide was in so the mud flats were covered in water and that meant a chance of seeing some birds and getting some watery pictures. I stopped briefly to snap the flats looking toward the Island and again a for brief visit to Upchurch but did not feel like stopping very long and carried on to the Riverside Park.
Being Sunday it was busy with people walking, taking the children for an outing and walking the dog. Some cycled, some watched the birds and others, the young ones watched each other. There was even some fishing. But the day was warm and sunny and that was the real reason. And they would be right. The day was a jewel.
The Riverside Country Park to give it its full name covers that area from the Gillingham Strand, the family recreation area near the Gas Works to Motney Hill opposite Upchurch. One can walk a long way in an afternoon especially if the walk to Deadman’s Hill is part of the trip. At low tide the mud flats leave the barges and boats high and dry and the birds stay out on the water’s edge, but with the tide the birds follow the fish and feed in the reed beds. On a sunny late autumn day it is wonderful to see the light catch them as they fly up circle and land in flocks.
A warning, at low tide the mud stinks a bit.
The smell has little to do with the sewage works on Motney Hill, just the nature of brackish water and rotting reeds. However, should you walk up to the works there should be a good view over the confluence of the Thames and the Medway. There is an RSPB reserve on the north side of the hill and that should be a good place to view birds in winter. From the end of the track you need to turn right and make your way along the reed beds – there is a path marked on the map – which will bring you back to the Lower Rainham road. I have yet to explore for footpaths off the road so it is back to the Park.
I turned back at the bottom of the hill taking the same path but with the sun setting (there must be thousands of them behind that hill) the light began to change and mellow the view. It was then I saw the birds flocking, their wings catching the sunlight as they flew, changed direction and settled only to rise again. Wonderful.
I caught some of them with the camera.
The walk ended with a cup of coffee and a piece of coffee cake at the kiosk and I was reminded of the coming winter, the sun setting in the afternoon. It was a drive home with the sun setting and the mist of the day falling, quite pleasant really.