Friday, 19 April 2013

London Loop-Erith to Old Bexley 17.04.13

I set off from home to complete my final section of The London Loop.Seems strange to be saying goodbye to it,but I'll know other routes I plan to walk such as The Thames Path will cross over it at some point.
My first impressions of this section wasn't good,Erith really is an industrial town with little appeal save for The Thames. I left the station to start the walk after travelling for over an hour on National Rail,Tube and Docklands Light Railway.
 The name Erith dates from Saxon times and means muddy harbour or gravelly landing place.

I walk down a couple road to reach The Thames.

I walked along the Thames looking across to Rainham and could see where I started the Loop  over in Purfleet. I reached the Cross keys pub and was looking about for a sign to see where to go next.Thankfully someone pointed me the direction as Erith doesn't appear to be very well sign posted. I walk down the steps to rejoin The Thames.

 Immediately stepping in dog poo at the bottom!! I walk along the Thames once more until I come out to Morrisons. I stop off for a comfort break and something to eat. I now have trouble finding a sign again to point on the Loop. I end up seeing more of Erith than I wanted to. Eventually I'm back on the loop and along the Thames.

Deep Water Wharf
 A new development by Morrisons Supermarkets Ltd on the site of the old deep wharf has significantly improved what was formerly the main industrial area and given the town a  new riverfront, complete with a pier.
I now leave the Thames and up through some bollards to join Manor Road by the now closed and boarded up Royal Alfred pub. Manor Road is full of industrial units and HGV.s trundling past.

Manor Road
Suddenly after quite a distance of this horrible stretch the industry ends and I am looking over Crayford Marshes and onwards towards The QEII bridge at Dartford and the single chimney of the Dartford Power Station.

I turn left onto a path by a local Yacht club and back along the Thames once more.

 To my right along the Thames is nothing more than more industry, so I try and keep my eyes on The Thames!

 The path here is also Route 1 of the National Cycle Network.Route 1 runs from Dover to Unst in the Shetland Isles.
 The base reads as follows: 
"Down a wandering path I have traveled,
Where the setting sun
Lies upon the ground.
The tracks are hard and dry
Smothered with
The weather's wear,
My mind did move
With them that had
Before me seen,
Trodding down the ground
A track for me to follow,
Leaving marks for others
A sign for them to follow"

Shortly after id Crayford Ness , where we now turn right to follow the River Darent,below pictured is the Creek flood barrier.

I now follow the creek, the wind was strong enough on The Thames. But now the wind is blowing straight at me,its all I can do to stand upright.Then to top it off it started to rain,lucky enough only lightly and it soon passed. To the left of the path are nothing but industrial units and car scrapyards.

Now the river divides and we branch off to our right to follow the River Cray with more industry ahead.I leave the river by a stile and turn into a road with lorries again trundling along. I reach the Jolly Farmer Pub where I cross the busy A206onto another track to follow the River Cray once more.

 I leave the river and walk down a road for a short stretch before taking a path that follows the Cray again and behind the back of houses. I then leave and come out by shops at Crayford. This is where the Roman Watling Street forded the Cray.
I cross the road by the Bear and Ragged Staff pub.

 I stopped for a cup of tea opposite the pub by The cray and the signs depicting Crayford link to brick making. I then went wrong and turned off to early and saw  bit more of Crayford and then had to double back.Back on track I follow Bourne Road and pass a park with a herd of steel cows!
 Further along Bourne road at The Citreon dealer,out the front remain the posts decorated with sgells and ferns. Here was once the Crayford cinema and these were the columns that supported the canopy.
I then turn left onto a path into open fields and down to The Cray again.

The path brings me up to Hall Place and its gardens. I followed the path and had a look around thre gardens and the outside of the house.It was £7 to enter the house itself and if I had the time,I would have gladly paid it to have a look.Maybe another time.

Hall Place was a country estate ,the stone half was built by Sir John Champneis in around 1540 using monastery fragments for the material.In 1537 he was Lord Mayor of London. Sir Robert Austen bought the house in 1640 and doubled its size with the red brick extension.

Here you can clearly see where the old meets new!

I follow the path and hedge once more,up some steps and join the A2 for a short way before dropping down to a path below. Here I went wrong and ended up walking through an industrial estate and  crossed the A2 by Dartford Heath. After probably adding a mile to my walk I ended back on track and entered Churchfield Wood and down a path so steep I had to grab trees to slow me down as I sped down the slope.At the bottom was the Loop path I should have been on. I exit the wood and onto a path that ran alongside a graveyard.I decided to walk through this instead.

 On exiting the graveyard across the road was St Mary The Virgin Church,Bexley. Its spire a shingled which starts as a pyramid with an octagonal top.
The parish church of St Mary the Virgin has been a continuous place of Christian worship for over eight hundred years.  The church probably succeeded an earlier Saxon church on the same site.  This was mentioned in the Domesday Survey (or census) in 1086 as a 'church in Bixle' where it is said that St Paulinus came to preach.

 I pass by a rebuilt weather-boarded mill over The River Cray and under the railway bridge to a three way junction.

I wander up the road to Bexley station for the journey home.