The fort in the sea

One day when I was browsing on Google maps, I spotted some public photos around the Thames estuary of this enigmatic abandoned structure, I've always loved derelict structures and this one appeared to be somewhere in the estuary surrounded by water.  It turned out to be Grain Fort which is an old Martello Tower originally built in the Victorian period and then extensively modified and altered in WWII to protect the entrance of the river Medway.

I decided to make this into a ride to get there going through the countryside in Kent and along to the Isle of Grain near where it is located.  The Fort itself is only accessible by foot at low tide where there is a paved causeway that leads to it.  This took a bit of planning and luckily low tide was going to occur at midday on the Monday May bank holiday.  The countryside itself towards it was mostly very quiet, cutting through many wheat fields and lush countryside.

We arrived on schedule and the sand bank was fully exposed with the causeway pointing to our objective.  We didn't bring any gumboots however so we had to bear walking through the silty Thames/Medway estuary mud barefoot and using our cycling shoes where it was covered with sharp crusty crustaceans.  

Luckily for us, someone had left a ladder in place to access the inside.  You can see a giant chain which is wrapped around the waist of the tower much like a belt, this is a left over from when the chain ran across to the other side of the Medway preventing ships from entering.

The remnants of the ammunition lift still remained along with the gun emplacement which was once there protecting the river.

Much of the tower built during WWII had slowly weathered away leaving a skeleton of steel reinforcement bars, however it provided a great view.  Looks like we weren't the only visitors either as there were plenty of signs of others who had visited before.  I have read that many other people head to the fort and stay overnight until the next low tide when it leaves.  The space is somewhat hauntingly lonely and captivating at the same time.

We didn't spend too much time on the fort, as we started to see the tide slowly creep in on the river side, however it took a fair while for it to even get to the entrance causeway.  There is about a 2 hour slot either side of low tide where the causeway is exposed.  Certainly this is one of the more interesting adventures we've been on with Jackyll.  Thanks for reading.


  1. Nice. I love old abandoned military stuff, esp from the World Wars. Up north in Washington State there were a number of installations at the entrance to Puget Sound to protect against German ships entering the sound and getting down to Seattle and/or Bremerton, where the navy is based in the area. Now they are all State Parks, and you can explore all the many batteries where humongous guns and ammo were located.

    The linked photo is from Fort Casey:

  2. Wow, very interesting. It's quite interesting the lives of these buildings, some of them became obsolete very soon after they were constructed

  3. I like to see how other riders are motivated, and pleased to see your adventure turned out well. I too am a curious soul and always enjoy a bit of history. Nice to see your tandem on an inaugural blog post outing.

  4. Love your blog, very helpful when I built up my own Croix de Fer. Just wondering...what route did you take for this trip to Grain Fort?


  5. Hi we took this route