Friday, 28 January 2011


Greenhithe → The Dome


Distance: 22.8 miles
Ascent: 192 metres
Duration: 6 hours 19 minutes

The familiar
« Gravesend | Tower of London »

And so the plan for completing a coastwalk each month in the year starts again.


From my first steps at Greenhithe this morning I expected to see familiar sights all day. Within the first mile I passed beneath the Queen Elizabeth II Bridge at Dartford. It's a bridge I know well and has never ceased to impress in terms of scale yet from below the proportions seem to double.

Although walking across the bridge is not permitted, it is possible for pedestrians to cross the river at this point by presenting themselves to Tunnel/Bridge Control who will drive them to the other side for free. Since my intent is to walk around our island I decided to continue upstream until I was able to cross on my feet.

Leaving the bridge behind I anticipated a view of London's skyscrapers would pull me forwards for the rest of the day but that didn't emerge until I reached Woolwich much later.


Instead I found something far more interesting: the Crossness Pumping Station is a beautiful building sadly separated from the path by an eight foot steel fence. Disused for the past fifty years, it is currently being restored by volunteers and would appear to be a fascinating detour for an hour or two. If only that steel fence wasn't there.

Woolwich has a foot tunnel which is the furthest downstream that pedestrians can cross the river under their own steam. Having walked this far upstream I decided to ignore it - and the other two tunnels I will encounter that are open to pedestrians (Greenwich and Rotherhithe). I will cross the next bridge: Tower Bridge.

I had hoped to reach the bridge today, but as I rounded the Millennium Dome the sun had already set and my feet were sending me a very strong signal to stop.

Notes for future walkers:

  1. The River Darent cannot be crossed at its confluence with the Thames; the alternative is a four mile walk to the A206.
  2. The route is along the riverbank all the way except for a tiny diversion east of Erith, and a longer one to avoid a private industrial estate between Woolwich and the Thames Barrier.
  3. On parts of this walk I felt a little unsafe, with significant stretches where the way was totally hidden from view. I encountered no trouble, but never felt completely relaxed.

Posted by pab at 19:48 | Comments will be back one day. Please email me instead!