London Loop Walk 5:
Erith to Bexley

5 March 2006

Today Stephen did the fifth of his  London Loop walks, again with Henry for company. We set off from the official start of the LOOP at Erith, and travelled along the rivers Thames, Darent and Cray to Bexley.

Henry waits for his bus to Erith. Don't forget to stick out a paw - it's a request stop!

On arrival at Erith, a short walk takes us to the Thames: a view upstream. For the next few kilometres, our route is also shared with the Thames Path Extension, a continuation of the Thames Path from the Barrier to Crayford Ness.

And straight across is Coldharbour Point, where we were last weekend, and the current end of the LOOP.

A panoramic view from the same point

An impressive signpost, with the London Loop logo at the top. Not much use, however - it points upstream to the Thames Barrier (which is right) and upstream to Dartford and Bluewater (which definitely isn't).

And a panoramic photo showing that Deep Water Jetty, effectively Erith's pier.

This side of the Thames has as much industry as the north bank

This sign rather appealed to me!

Once past the industry, the LOOP route returns to the bank of the Thames, with The Queen Elizabeth II Bridge gradually drawing closer

A small marina across the reeds of the Thames

Henry goes to say hello to one of the horses tethered along the banks of the river

Looking upstream back to Erith

The path here is also Route 1 of the National Cycle Network, as this commemorative signpost from 2000 points out. We know Route 1 already as it follows the length of the River Lee Navigation towpath, and in totality runs from Dover to Unst in the Shetland Isles.  The base reads as follows:

Down a wandering path
I have travelled,
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.

Henry and The QEII Bridge, with the chimney of Dartford power station

More industry lies behind the flood bank as we look towards the Darent flood barrier

The mouth of the River Darent, at this point known also as Dartford Creek. This is the end of the Thames Path Extension, at the end of
the 310km walk from Thames Head.

A close up of the flood barrier, with echoes of Tower Bridge, though the ability to cross the river by the elevated walkway has been neglected here.

Dartford Creek and The QEII Bridge

Looking back towards the flood barrier

We leave the River Darent here to follow the River Cray for the rest of the walk

Looking down the River Cray

Having crossed the A206, we find the River Cray again, now non-tidal.

It is quite remarkable how its character has changed.

Playing fields on the western edge of Crayford

And we find the River Cray again as we approach Hall Place, becoming even more pleasant and natural as it wends its way between playing fields.

The first of the London Loop interpretation boards we have seen.

It's good to have the Environment Agency looking out for us and warning us of hazards we wouldn't have expected

Crossing the railway line on its way to Dartford

The A2 - having started just east of the A10 and passed over the M11, A12 and A13, to reach the A2 is a small milestone and shows we are making progress around the clockface numbering of London's roads.

Looking back across wasteland towards the A2

St Mary the Virgin church, Bexley. It looks as though the plan for the spire was changed half-way through construction!

Another pleasant walk on the LOOP, showing a variety of faces of the Thames, Darent and Cray. Next time, the London Loop from Old Bexley to Petts Wood

Section 1 Erith station to Bexley station: 13.3km, 3 hours 40 minutes (including 50 minutes stopped), 100 metres of ascent

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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson