RAINHAM is much more suburban in character than either Gillingham or Chatham, with the atmosphere of a dormitory town. It was once popular with hop-pickers coming down from London. The station is large and the London trains are fast. Housing is a mixed bag, from late-Victorian farmworkers’ terraces at £100,000 to £110,000 to Thirties’ houses in the Wigmore area, where three-bedroom detached houses sell from £180,000 upwards. Hempstead is another attractive area with an old villagey heart and an outgrowth of new estates: you can pay from £110,000 for a starter home right up to £550,000 for a large detached house. The Riverside Country Park, which extends along the southern shore of the Medway Estuary between Gillingham and Rainham, offers escape from the relentless housing. The park was formed from reclaimed salt marshes and is linked from west to east by the Saxon Shore Way – a coastal footpath that runs 140 miles between Gravesend and Rye.