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This is almost the summit of the Grain Branch as the line crosses the backbone of the Hoo Peninsula.
The single track branch line from Hoo Junction to Grain and Thamesport is on the Hoo Peninsula in North Kent. Hoo Junction is on the line between Gravesend and Strood. The Hoo Peninsula is an area of great contrast: isolated marshland and mudflats, farms and orchards, power stations and a container port. For bird spotters there are several RSPB
nature reserves. There are also connections with Charles Dickens, for example the church at Cooling was the inspiration for the opening scenes in Great Expectations.
Railway type and traffic
This is a freight only branch with services running Monday to Friday only, with very occasional weekend passenger excursions or Serco test trains. There is roughly one train per hour throughout the length of the line. Current workings include DB Schenker and GB Railfreight ballast from Foster Yeoman's terminal at Grain where an 08 shunter is normally resident; DB Schenker spoil workings to Grain; Freightliner workings to and from Thamesport and a intermodal service to Thamesport.
Link to Real Time Trains
RTT Link Grain Branch, Cooling
This link should be close to the location, but may not be the actual
location so please check the page. This link will take you to what is happening 'around now'. Dates and times can be changed at the top of the page.
This spot can only be reached by a public footpaths across arable fields.
From the A289 heading towards the Medway tunnel take the B2000 almost into Cliffe and then take a right turn towards Cooling (Cooling Road) and follow this very twisty road for about 2 km. Park by the public toilets and walk to the east picking up the footpath that heads south between the lay-by and the pub.Click here to set up your location for directions to this location Grain Branch, Cooling map co-ordinates
Cooling is very quiet and cars can be parked in the lay-by by the public toilets.
There is no public transport to Cooling and the only alternative would be to catch a bus to either Cliffe or High Halstow and walk the rest of the way.Click here to set up your location for directions to this location
There are public toilets in Cooling as well as the CAMRA Horseshoe and Castle pub.
Sun Compass using Suncalc by brought to you by Vladimir Agafonkin
It might be necessary to adjust the time to suit your visit, this link should open with the current day.
Grain Branch, Cooling
Grain Branch, Cooling general view map
Grain Branch, Cooling close up map
Windows Local Live Link
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Grain Branch, Cooling
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The line runs from west to east so trains can be photographed at most times of the day usually from the south side of the line, however the best view is looking towards the west. Please note than when the trees are in leaf they will pretty much block any sun on the line.
The line is a challenge for photographers being largely flat (bring stepladders!), much line side vegetation and a proliferation of electricity pylons at some locations. Also for the majority of trains one is shooting into the light with biggest challenge being the evening Fastline Class 56 service to Thamesport which is only possible to photograph on the branch in midsummer.
General views - All photographs © Jonathan Makepeace unless otherwise stated
Fig 1 - Looking west
Fig 2 - Looking east
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