A walk to Yantlet Creek

yantlet 6 creek

Yantlet Creek looking towards the London Stone and the Thames

Just finished the first round of dawn bird surveys. Even at 6am on a barren grassland with an Arctic wind flying along the Thames then I know that this job is a privilege. I see isolated bays and sunrises, the sharp light of dawn, hunting marsh harriers and a world with only me and the skylarks awake.

Tuesday I walked the sea wall at Yantlet Creek on the Thames Estuary. The bay at the creek mouth was deserted apart from me and a big dog fox who bounded off in puppy leaps but was overcome with curiosity every few steps, stopping to turn back and judge me. Deciding I was harmless, he stopped to shake himself sending a shower of droplets into the air, an eiderdown on dew sent skywards.

I walked down to the memorial stone marking the entrance to the bay. When I came here many years ago there had been a plaque commemorating the death of a young boy who had drowned in the bay, now all that was left was a green stain where the copper plaque had been lifted by thieves, for its scrap value no doubt.

yantlet 1  memorial stone

memorial stone


I sat down for second breakfast, coffee and muller rice and watched the moon fade and an egret fishing the shallows. The trails of water reaching the creek wriggled their way across the mud like blood vessels across the brain. There were birds in the bay, redshank, oystercatchers, godwit, a whole flock of knot peppering the water with their wing beats but none on the land I had come here to survey.

That is where my real work begins, not on these dawn walks to count birds, that part is easy, the real work is in enthusing a farmer to make the changes that are needed to create land suitable for these birds to breed.

An easy jet plane flew over the gas container storage depot out on the Isle of Grain and I felt myself slip through a wormhole in time. The marshes, the bays do not seem of this century and, in them, I become not of this century. Slipping into a world of Bawley boats and labour on the land and gentleman naturalists heading out with butterfly nets.

Despite its fragility the world I occupy seems more solid. If the industry and the aeroplane vanish, as one day they will, the bays will remain and part of me will remain in them as having attempted to create an alchemy of land and water and wildlife, the bones of life, onto which the 21st century’s imposition seems tinny and temporary.

yantlet 2 sea pursulane in flower

Yantlet Creek looking towards the London Stone and the Thames


Second breakfast finished I continued on my way past the saltmarsh towards the head of the creek where two black backed gulls guarded an ancient dock demanding tolls from all who dared to pass.


10 thoughts on “A walk to Yantlet Creek

  1. Lovely post Carol. Wonderful how the sensitive mind can see beauty in mud and weeds even with polluting planes overhead. I once, decades ago, watched hundreds of white fronted geese feeding on the fields there and was then buzzed by a crop plane with fertilizer pellets! Those were the days!
    Hope the cold winds turn and warm southerlies arrive to help the lapwing chicks and everything else.

    • Many thanks Barry. What a wonderful image of you being buzzed by a crop plane. Like Cary Grant in North by Northwest, although I guess, not in a suit and with more expletives!

    • Hi Marshal,
      Happy May day to you too. I went and washed my face in the dew this morning. Their are turtle doves later in the year near Chislet too.

  2. Pingback: Crow Stone, London Stone and an Estuary Airport — Paruna.ru

    • Loved reading your post about your visit to the Yantlet Creek London Stone. I have never tried to venture out to it but know how magical this place can be at dawn. I conduct bird surveys on the land you walked across and hope to work with the Port of London Authority, who own the land, to improve its value for wildlife. The plaque to the boy that drowned was there when I first came to this part of Kent in 2004, it’s just a shame I never took a photo of it but I never imagined that someone would still a memorial to a child.

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