My exploration of the Hoo peninsula in north Kent continues; it seems there are many more secret corners to unearth, some of them in the most unexpected places. Yesterday we started at the eastern extreme, the Isle of Grain, which is nominally part of the peninsula. However since a new bridge was built recently over the end of the Yantlet Creek, it does seem like you are actually crossing to an island. Most of the island is covered by power stations and other industrial compounds, but at the very end of the road is the windswept and strangely otherly village of Grain, with a two-mile long sea wall you can walk along and gaze over towards Sheerness and Sheppey.
Our mission to walk to the London Stone - the boundary of the city's jurisdiction - was aborted due to the presence of a military firing range in our path. Going to try from the other side of the creek next time. So after enjoying the crazy geometry of the rows of WWII tank traps and the desolation of the rubbish-strewn sand dunes we wandered the other direction through the bitter northerly winds and watched the oystercatchers, dunlin and curlews strutting around on the acres of mudflats.
After lunch it was on to familiar territory - the Northward Hill RSPB reserve - in search of herons. They were all in hiding, it seemed, although we did catch one poking its head above the reeds as we headed back, and as usual there were many rooks circling the rookery.
I was disappointed not to see any adders, perhaps it's still a little early for them. Last year I spied two of them basking in the sunshine at the edge of the drainage channel that runs along the edge of the field in a sheltered spot. I'd hoped they would be doing the same this year, on the first proper day of sunshine, but if they were, they were keeping to themselves.
Even without much wildlife to be seen, there's always the glorious swathes of reeds to gaze on, and the lichen-covered trees to marvel it. It was bitterly cold in the wind, so much so that even the twitchers took to setting up their equipment behind the bushes, but somehow we felt obliged to soak up as much as we can before the risk of hypothermia drove us back to the car and home for tea.
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