Exactly a year since I moved to London! And what better way to celebrate than to take the Duchess and Eli out for a spin. Today I decided to ride east up to the Thames Barrier – this is literally what controls the flow of the Thames and important in my quest for covering as much of the river as I can. This is also significant because this is the point furthest out to the east that I will be following the river through its path in the city. The west-most point will be Richmond.
Google maps puts today’s distance at ~7.5 miles either way. But the map is not “true” – it doesn’t allow me to define the actual path I did take – I clung to the water wherever possible. So in actuality this was more than 15 miles cycled today.
With this journey today, I’ve covered the Thames path stretching from the Thames Barrier (south east London) to Butler’s Wharf (central London).
Today’s route took me from home, past the Cutty Sark and the Royal Naval College, behind the Trafalgar Tavern and then back onto the Thames Path in front of the Cutty Sark tavern at Ballast Quay, and then again away from the river and into little residential lanes – Pelton Road, Christchurch Way, Mauritius Road, and then Blackwall Lane which became Blackwall Tunnel Approach – where I found a dirt road through construction sites (which I suspect will give way to new developments, let’s hope they don’t block public access to the river), past Morden Wharf and Delta Wharf, then behind the O2 and around it, skirting North Greenwich Pier.
From here on it was pretty smooth sailing to the Barrier – past the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park, Greenwich Yacht Club. Past Anchor and Hope (where I wanted to get off and have a bite but decided against it since I felt grimy) and then to the Barrier.
When you’re up close to the Barrier, you don’t realise how large it is.And when you’re there, your view of the river further east is abruptly cut off. So I decided to ride further down. However, I ended up on the main road – Woolwich Road which later became Woolwich Church Street. I finally found the path again at Defiance Walk and got the view of the Barrier that I wanted as well as the river.
For some reason I expected it to be different here – I expected to see it wild and untamed. Which was probably a ridiculous notion though I have read that waves here can be up to 30 feet high! It looked pretty much the same here – wider definitely and there were fewer developments on either side – so more sky. It looked more alone here… Perhaps I need to see it early in the morning or on a windy day or when there is a high tide. I’d toyed with the idea of taking the ferry back from Woolwich but since I couldn’t find it, I biked all the way back. If I had just continued down I would have encountered it.
Stupidly enough I hadn’t carried any water. I think it says a lot about the kind of developments that are springing up that I couldn’t find any shops selling cold drinks along the way. There were some taverns of course but I didn’t feel presentable enough for them. I finally bought some cold beverages at the store around the corner near my apartment and sat by the river gulping gratefully.
The Duchesses’ tyres are finally looking dusty!