The Heron Trail explores the often forgotten area of the Hoo Peninsula, with its literary connections – Charles Dickens wrote Great Expectations and a Tale of Two Cities here – rich in maritime heritage and a wide variety of bird life, there is something for everyone.
Starting points can be anywhere along the route, but Higham Station is a convenient location from which to start your ride.
The Heron Trail takes its name from the RSPB Northward Hill Reserve. As well as nightingales and turtledoves, the wood has the largest heronry in the UK, with more than 150 pairs of grey heron nesting in the treetops and almost 50 pairs of little egrets, a recent colonist.
Further highlights of the trail are the many forts and castles that line the route. Take a look at Cliff Fort, which was built in 1800 as part of the defence system guarding the Thames. Now it is home for roosting birds and a variety of plants.
Another option is Cooling Castle, which is privately owned. It was built in 1381 and once stood close to the sea. Draining of the marshes has left it some distance inland.
Upnor Castle, built in 1559, is set on the banks of the River Medway and was constructed as a gun for on the orders of Queen Elizabeth I to defend her warships at anchor.