30 June, 2006

Erith to Old Bexley – First walk of the London Loop.

For general comments on Erith please see elsewhere but I have to pay tribute to the staff of Erith Library who supplied me with a photocopiable leaflet (for use in the library only) for this walk – you did me proud!

I will also state from the outset that this is not one of the most prepossessing walks you can do around London: the first section at any rate has scrap merchants, dealers in aggregates, civic amenity sites (that’s rubbish dumps to you and me) and roads crammed with lorries going along at breakneck illegal speeds.

It starts pleasantly enough by the Thames at Erith, and this plaque records the spot.
Loop sign Erith Riverside Posted by Picasa

After you leave the town, you go back towards the river passing industrial buildings busy with lorries (although not on a Sunday). Then, surprisingly you come out onto the London Flood Defence earthwork and walk along the top of this for a while, looking towards the Thames and the shipping, rather than the scrap yards and other industries here. I didn’t see any teasels as stated in the leaflet but the wild flowers were in bloom and looked very beautiful. There was also a view of the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge, the clockwise part of the Dartford crossing. Coming to the Darent, the river that runs through Dartford and joins the Thames here, there was another flood defence, which notices warned one to keep off. The tide was out so I did see lots of water birds feeding on the mud flats and some flocks of thrushes. The Cray is a tributary of the Darent, and this path is shared with the Cray Riverway. I walked up the Cray as far as I could until I found myself in another industrial area where the road narrowed and lorries were speeding along. I walked up to the main road and crossed it (it is very busy). I then left the traffic and noise of London behind me in a rural idyll by the Cray. It was surprising how quickly the country changed: one moment all was dirt and industry the next a peaceful river with reeds and moorhens (some with chicks) weeping willows and very little sign of human habitation. Of course, human habitation was very near but it felt like it was miles away. The river is clean and has tiny little fish swimming in it. There were a few suburban bits on this section but not much. Crayford High Street has pleasant gardens by the river with a sculpture put up and made by a local mental health group. Called ‘the Worker’ it does not have a face. I did not take a picture of it. The path passes by a pub called the ‘bear and ragged staff’. This is the badge of Warwickshire and Warwick the Kingmaker. Walking up the next part towards Hall Place is a garage. On the forecourt are two columns which are the remains of Crayford Cinema. They are well looked after and here is a picture of them for you.
Crayford Cinema Posted by Picasa Here you enter Hall Place grounds (see previous entry on Hall Place). Walking here is very pleasant as is crossing into Churchfield Woods. Again one quickly leaves behind the noise of the traffic on Rochester Way. Out of the woods, which would be a romantic spot to take a significant other, I passed by a cemetery and up to Bexley church. This flint church was locked unfortunately. The path comes out by the old mill (turned into a public house) and passes over the Cray again. Here is an old house by the mill.
old house by the mill bexley Posted by Picasa

Up through Bexley to the Railway station then back home via New Eltham. I think that this means I have also done the Cray Riverway which follows this section of the loop and also Section 2.

Evening spent at the V & A Museum cubafest but it wasn't very good

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