Friday, 3 October 2014

The Isle of Sheppey.

Tuesday morning and we went out for the day - I was getting stir-crazy.

I was on holiday with nowhere to go so I had to get out of the house. Robyn had to humour me; we went to Sheppey and Whitstable.

Here's the Isle of Sheppey;

It's an island off the north Kent coast facing the Thames Estuary where it meets the sea and it's a bit raw and bleak and a even a little lonely. I could tell you stories about Sheppey and some of the crazy things that have gone on there but that's for another time. It has character and so do the people who live there.

We went there because the London Clays emerge at Warden Point. London Clay is the layer of clay deep under London - it's soft and gooey and the Underground Tunnels pass through it.

It was laid down in the Jurassic period and it's full of fossils. It comes out in Dorset (Lyme Regis for example) and is called 'The Jurassic Coast'. It also comes out on The North York Moors Coast. We didn't have time to go there so we had a look at Sheppey where there's a little offshoot.

The soft coast is always crumbling here; the sands and silts above the clay are collapsing into the sea.

As we set off at low tide we saw these wellington boots abandoned by their owner, nearly covered in silt. He must have got caught in the quicksand like silt when it was wet, jumped out of the boots to save himself and left them behind.

Today the silt had dried solid, like concrete, you couldn't pull them out;

If you want to see how fast the cliffs are eroding here are two second world war defensive positions ('Pillboxes') which would have been built solidly on the top of the cliff in 1939;

The light brown layer on the cliff is silt, the dark brown is the London Clay.

All around are old relics of the war - in the estuary are weird gun emplacement towers; rusting steel platforms standing out of the sea on three steel legs in groups of six, linked by suspended walkways. They have become isolated homes, pirate radio stations and even a hotel. You can only get to them by sea or helicopter. It's made for a 'James Bond Villain'.

As I grew up, these boxes were everywhere for kids to play in them;

But we were there for the fossils that the sea washes out of the clay. Actually we were looking for Jurassic Sharks teeth (so I'm still a kid) but we didn't find any.

We did find plenty of even more interesting things and I'll post some pictures in a week or so.

Just to give you a taster of what is to come, here is a nodule which is about two feet wide. They appear out of the clay for no obvious reason and are crystalline. This one carries the impression of a Jurassic plant; the green part is modern day seaweed;

This was too big to take home but you'll like what we did find.
Whitstable was lovely too - an old fishing village, but you'll have to wait a while for me to catch up.......we are having a little adventure tonight!
Neil Harris
(a don't stop till you drop production)
Contact me:  neilwith[

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