Escaping with Magwitch

Friday 21st May 2021 to
Saturday 12th June 2021

Escaping with Magwitch

After a long winter in lockdown Carol Donaldson and Stephen Turner are set to escape to the North Kent Marshes in a small inflatable boat called Magwitch, named after the prisoner in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations who was imprisoned in a hulk on the Medway Estuary at Stangate Creek. Unlike the ‘real’ Magwitch, they have no plans to escape abroad, but rather they will stay to survey the wetlands and wildlife on their own doorstep, camping in remote locations for five days during Estuary 2021.

They will embark from the Queen’s Stairs at the Historic Dockyard, Chatham, their route guided by tide and current and by chance meetings as they progress toward a landscape of seeping ooze beyond Folly Point, to Horrid Hill; Bedlams Bottom; Ladies Hole; and Barksore Marsh – all part of the last wilderness in South East England.

Treading lightly on the land, they will question their own presence in these fragile edgelands, as well as the wider potential threat of huge urban development on all sides, sharing an abundance of knowledge with each other and with a wider audience. In her book On the Marshes, Carol reflects on her time living in a caravan on a marshland nature reserve and sets off to meet other fringe dwellers tucked away in creeks and inlets, exploring the reasons people are drawn to the area and the conflicts between marsh-dwellers and corporate Britain, private ownership & conservation. This enhances, enriches and expands upon Stephen's interest in being amanuensis (or scribe) for the tides, terns and turnstones, providing nature with a voice.

Before they set out, Stephen and Carol recorded a conversation at Horrid Hill in the Riverside Country Park in Gillingham, touching on their in-depth knowledge of the fragile edgelands of the North Kent marshes, and the conflicts between marsh dwellers - both human and non-human - and corporate Britain.

A recording of their conversation is available online through Estuary 2021, and is accessible via sign at Horrid Hill. Listen via the player at the top of this page, or through SoundCloud.

This conversation is the precursor to the journey they will be making - see for more details, and reports from the voyage.


Friday 21st May 2021 to
Saturday 12th June 2021


Online /
Riverside Country Park, 333 Lower Rainham Road, Rainham

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