Gravesham Council produced a small booklet to promote the 2007 Heritage Festival. Amongst the events on offer was a circular walk across the North Kent marshes, titled ‘Naughty Nuns and Nightingales’. This appealed to me as I had never visited the marshes in spite of living (for the past 13 years) not too far away.
We met on a sunny but windy day at an isolated hamlet, Church Street, near Higham and were introduced to the walk by our leader, Carol, who works for the RSPB. We stopped in the first field to hear about the naughty nuns: a local vicar, Edward Sterofer, had fathered children by two of the nuns. We then walked across the marshes towards the Thames estuary, over many rickety stiles and a railway line. On the way we passed some of the lakes that were created when the cement industry was extracting lime. As they were later used to dump silt from the estuary they are now shallow salt-water lakes and home to sea creatures including crustaceans. When we reached the estuary I was appalled to see so much rubbish. What a shame in such a tranquil place. Carol then led us through some scrubland, where she hoped we would be able to hear nightingales. Unfortunately they were not in the mood for singing – perhaps it was too windy! However, we saw (and heard) plenty of other birds, including skylarks.
Thank you, Carol, for an interesting and pleasant walk.