Dave Sergeant

Yesterday another walk, this time along the south bank of the Thames from Woolwich to Erith, a sort of link path between the Capital Ring and London Loop walks and taking me back to where I started the London Loop in February 2019. A reasonable stretch and I must have done nearly 10 miles by the time I arrived home.

Some delays on the train going up to London due to a signalling issue near Waterloo. I ended up getting off the train at Clapham Junction and continuing on a different train on one of the unaffected lines but arrived virtually the same time, albeit 25 minutes later than I should have.

TFL suggest starting this walk at Woolwich Arsenal but it is about the same distance if you begin at the station before, King George V, and walk through the Woolwich Foot tunnel. So another trip through the tunnel - the ferry was operating but I have found that is a much slower way - and emerged at the southern end at 11.30. The Capital Ring signpost is still pointing the wrong way but I was able to follow it eastwards along the Thames towards Erith. I noticed they had renamed one of the Woolwich Ferry boats Dame Vera Lynn.

The walk starts by going past Woolwich Arsenal but not that much is visible from the river. The whole stretch is hardly that scenic being mainly industrial. But there were good views back to Canary Wharf and the Post Office Tower could just be made out. A short stretch of the riverside path is on gravel path through light woodland which gave it a rural feel. Eventually the flood barrier guarding Barking Creek comes into view and we reach Tripcock Ness but that was so insignificant that I failed to realise I had reached it until I saw a sign saying it was 100m further back.

A fairly long stretch of non picturesque Thames followed until I eventually reached Crossness. The ancient building is the old Crossness Beam Engines which pumped sewage and sludge into the Thames in Victorian times. It is now open as a museum and worth a visit but only at weekends with pre-booked tickets. The sewage connection remains with the adjacent sewage works and then the Crossness Incinerator. I must say the odours in this area got well and truly into my lungs and I went into an uncontrolled coughing fit, I was glad to get away from it.

The remainder of the walk was along Erith Marshes, an area with a lot of industrial development going on. Across the river we have first the Ford Dagenham plant with ships serving it then Coldharbour Point and its huge recycling industry and Rainham Marshes which marked the final leg of the London Loop. It was a bit of a slog into Erith, not being helped by a huge and controversial housing development on part of the Riverside Gardens where I got a little confused and ended up in the residential backstreets of Erith. The pub I had earmarked for lunch, the Running Horses, turned out not to be serving food and after a pleasant chat with the landlord made my way back to Waterloo where I had a somewhat late meal in the Wellington next to there. An enjoyable but very tiring day.

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