Wednesday, October 29, 2014

On the Beach in East Tilbury, Essex

A view up the "beach" at East Tilbury, near to Coalhouse Fort.
The best thing about road cycling as a pastime is that you can literally put a pin into a map and cycle to most places - within obvious limitations

I had little else to do on warm but hazy Saturday 17th May and so I decided I was going to ride to a 'beach' somewhere towards the Thames estuary. It was a month or two after returning from Uganda and I hadn't done any 'big rides' since riding overnight from Walthamstow to Warwick in March.

The conditions were: as I was riding alone, I needed ready access to a station should I have a breakdown; there had to be something of at least mediocre interest at my destination; and that I should be able to cycle there primarily on B roads.

Sasha, the radar station and the marshy foreshore in East Tilbury.
As things turned out, with the magic of Strava and Garmin, I ended up in East Tilbury, Essex. Granted, the village is pretty with a few pubs, and plenty of clapboard buildings, but the highlight was Coalhouse Fort and an old radar installation down on the shoreline.

The fort, in its current incarnation, was built as paranoia over a potential invasion from the French was reaching new levels in the government. It also played a role during both World Wars before closing in the 1950s. Now it is run by volunteers and sits at the end of a surprisingly pretty riverside path which heads towards Grays.

One word of warning though. As I was down on the beach with Sasha, my Specialized Allez, watching a large ship go by, I thought all was calm. Around two minutes later, however, the bow-wave from the ship finally reached the shore, and the water quickly became ferocious. Fortunately, only one water bottle was lost in the watery escapade.

For more about Coalhouse Fort visit: http://www.coalhousefort.co.uk/
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