Dave Sergeant

The 52 mile Green Chain Walk, London's first long distance footpath, opened in 1977. The network links together the open spaces in the great arc of protected, undeveloped land with a total area of 4,500 acres, that sweeps around South East London from Crystal Palace to the Thames at Erith and Thamesmead. I followed the maps and guidance from the Inner London Ramblers website. Although I have walked parts before this is my project for 2024.

Section 1 Woolwich to Lesnes Abbey - 25th January 2024

Section 1 starts on the Thames east of Woolwich and goes through the Thamesmead estate down to Lesnes Abbey. It is about 3 miles in length so to make it a reasonable day's walk I started at Woolwich and walked along the Thames to the start. I was joined by Mike who has accompanied me on several of my walks.

So after a trip on the Elizabeth line to Woolwich we started our day on the South bank of the Thames by Woolwich Pier, Number 1 Street and the buildings of the old Royal Arsenal.

A pleasant walk along the Thames with Beckton and Barking across the other side. Then a WW2 pillbox, flooded inside so we couldn't explore.

Barking Creek Barrier, then as we approach our turning off point the new buildings of Barking Riverside appear.

Where the Green Chain starts, lots of signposts. This was a bit further along the river than we had expected beside the houses of Thamesmead. Thamesmead was developed in the 1960s on land formerly used by the Royal Arsenal, the northern part is modern rebuild in 2019.

This part of the estate surrounds a series of canals, actually drainage channels for the marshy area but designed to be quite attractive. Certainly a very pleasant area.

More canals a bit further south. Then a herd of geese.

Southmere Lake is an artificial lake built as part of the development and a wetlands centre. It was used in the 1970s for filming Stanley Kubrick's dark sci-fi masterpiece A Clockwork Orange. After here we passed through the southern part of the estate which is largely original flats and not as attractive as the northern section.

Out of Thamesmead and across the railway line with Abbey Wood station in the distance. Then down to Lesnes Abbey, founded in in 1178 and pleasant to explore. Afterwards to Abbey Wood station where we caught the train to Woolwich and had a nice lunch in the Great Harry before heading back to Waterloo and home.

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