Inaugural walk on the London Loop, Thurs 19 November 2015, Erith to Bexley

Thursday mid-week walkers completed the Capital Ring at the end of October. We resolved that our next project would be to complete the 150-mile London Loop mostly during 2016. We walked the first stage, from Erith to Bexley, on 19th November. Steady rain made this a soggy journey but not without its occasional delights. The Thames and Darent river margins of Erith town are devoted to one industry: recycling. Those of us who religiously fill blue bins or make trips to local centres might be saddened by the business end of this process. Spread along the riverside are junk yards and sheds for sorters, shredders and chippers, fed by eight-axle HGVs on clogged lanes, this Dickensian scene by turns awe-inspiring and awful. Erith and Crayford have sacrificed themselves for the greater good. Meanwhile the river banks and the water meadows have a special character. As we approached the Dartford ring road we shifted from the Darent onto the Cray, a smaller river winding among reed beds and brambles and along the backs of suburban terraces, to emerge at Crayford town centre. Here we lunched in the somewhat disorganised Bear and Ragged Staff. Eventually well fed, we proceeded, still through drizzle, along a main road to the garage which boasts the two remaining pillars of Crayford’s Art Deco cinema. Next across the fields behind historic Hall Place: we wanted to visit this distinguished house but its back garden access was closed off. The last mile traversed a dripping wood to quaintly steepled Bexley Church and into the 17th to 19th Century town. We skipped its pubs and cafes to catch the four o’clock train back to central London. Despite drizzle and dereliction this was a good start, and our next excursion will be on Thursday 3 December. We will meet at Bexley Station at 10.45 (take the 10.14 from London Bridge or from other stops) to walk past Sidcup Place and Chislehurst to Petts Wood.

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