Weekend Walks

The Thames near Erith
The Thames near Erith

Our favourite walk leader, Ian Bull, wrote to remind me of this weekend’s set of strolls brought together by Walk London. Ian is leading two walks over the weekend. The first, and longest, is on Saturday, 17th May – a 17.5 mile, 8 hour hike along the Thames from Slade Green to Greenwich.  This Thames Path Super Walk is described on the Walk London web site as follows:

 – This is without doubt one of the most fascinating walks possible in South East England. In a most attractive way it explores the Thames between bucolic countryside and the intense development of the World’s greatest commercial centre. This isn’t so much a walk as a journey.
– We begin in the farmland of London’s Green Belt beside the River Darent, a stones-throw from Kent, arriving at Crayford Ness and confluence with the Thames by way of brackish marshes rich in bird life. We then receive the almost magical experience of seeing the great river progress from pre-estuarine bleakness to the heart of urbanity.
– The transition between the contrasting landscapes is both inexorable yet surprisingly gentle as the natural environment penetrates well into London. Typically, whilst passing Bulrushes reclaiming an old wharf we might already see the towers of commerce rising before us.
– The walk is also a historical timeline for London. We’ll pass evidence of almost every aspect of the city’s economic and industrial past from agriculture and fisheries through iron and shipping to electronics and nuclear engineering. We’ll conclude besides one of the most famed examples of the built environment anywhere on the planet, Wren’s magnificent work at Greenwich. Overall, this walk is a feast for both the eye and the mind, no wonder it’s proven so popular.
– The start is timed to allow for a walk without rush but please note that it demands the ability to consistently maintain average walking pace for some 14 miles. A packed lunch is essential as is water to drink along the way. There is a small supermarket at the beginning but opportunities to re-stock along the way are very limited
– The walk leader has a lifetime’s experience of walking besides London’s river and will be delighted to share his extensive knowledge. Feel free to contact him, Ian Bull, for further information.  Telephone 020 7223 3572,  E-mail ianbull@btinternet.com

The walk starts at 10.00am at Slade Green Station and finishes at Greenwich. Both walks are free and booking is not required.

Green Chain walkers in Bostall Wood
Green Chain walkers in Bostall Wood

The second walk, on Sunday 18th May, is even closer to home.  The modestly titled London’s best woodland and views, without doubt is only 7.5 miles, but takes in the best bits of the Green Chain walk. It starts at 11.45am outside the booking office at Belvedere railway station and finishes at the top of Shooters Hill. The Walk London write up says:

 – The title of this walk says it all and participants will not be disappointed.
– South East London is sometimes dismissed as a sprawl of suburban housing. This couldn’t be further from the truth, the area contains the finest landscape in London. Thanks to that quality the South East was chosen in 1977 as the location for London’s first long distance footpath network, the Green Chain.
– This walk naughtily picks the very best parts of the Green Chain system and combines them into one gem, perhaps the most attractive foot journey that London can offer. There will be miles when you’ll have no idea that you are within a City. The Woodland is ancient, extensive, and dense, it was recorded by the Romans and pre-dates them by millennia.
– Within that woodland we’ll meet one of London’s least known ancient monuments, the ruins of Lesnes Abbey. Already having met some notable gradients we now start climbing consistently, to well over 400 feet. As we progress you’ll notice ever more extensive views unfolding and at every stage you can be sure of ever better views and landscape before you. A Victorian interlude at Plumstead Common preludes further ascent towards Shooters Hill and, if the weather is clear, views out to the North Sea. The summit of Shooters Hill with its great vista over Kent and Surrey is crowned by yet more ancient woodland and nestling within it we’ll find the remarkable Severndroog Castle. From here it’s a short walk to buses for home and memories of a day you won’t forget. Please note that our route is very steep in places, a packed lunch is essential, and there are few places to re-stock along the way.
– The walk leader is the Green Chain Walk’s surveying contractor and will be delighted to share his extensive knowledge.

While walking with Ian you could also ask him about the railway system that used to run in the Royal Arsenal at Woolwich and the restoration of the Woolwich steam locomotive. Ian is scheduled to give a talk about “The narrow gauge railways of the Royal Arsenal” at the Greenwich Industrial History Society meeting on 17th June. It starts at 7.30pm at  The Old Bakehouse, Bennett Park, SE3, behind Age Exchange in Blackheath.

Horse riders near Severndroog Castle
Horse riders near Severndroog Castle

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