C25 Spinoff 3: D-Day landing craft on Erith Rands (Sept C)

The equinoxes are better known for storms than flat calm, but a year ago I caught this stretch of the Thames in an eerie stasis of slackwater high tide and no breath of wind. Air and water stood still, the seabirds hung randomly at anchor, as it were – but these concrete WW11 landing craft go nowhere under any conditions.

They were used to create Mulberry harbours for the D-Day invasion of 1944, but ended up here on Rainham Marshes to reinforce the flood defences after breaches during the great storms of 1953. An informative panel will provide more detail as part of series of all along the ride from Rainham to the RSPB centre at Purfleet.

Rainham marshes is a C25 highlight section, but the purpose of my ride that day after enjoying the shoreline here was to check counter-clockwise the largely offroad Ingrebourne Valley route, southern section of Spinoff 1-2-3, the Outer Essex Arc. In particular, there was a section in Pages Wood south of Harold Wood where the ride surface was so unstable that I nearly came a cropper when doing the first recce southbound. A similar section in Dagnam Park further north marred an otherwise great ride that belies the reputation of West Essex as dull or urban or even wasteland.


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