Friday 11th March 2011: Erith Riverside to Old Bexley
After deciding to actually start the walk, I was a little bit apprehensive. I'm walking the LOOP with Peter who's 14 months old and can't walk yet so I'll be carrying him. I've carried him on short journeys before now and I've walked further and on more difficult terrain, but never the two together. But off we headed into the wide blue yonder with pitta and humous sandwiches and jaffa cakes.
It was a bright and breezy day and absolutely perfect for the first trip out. There was nothing to put us off. Pete was all wrapped up, I was all psyched up and so off we went to catch the 10:22 from Maze Hill to Erith. It was at this point I started to worry. I wasn't struggling exactly, but I realised how heavy Pete is. I haven't weighed him for a while, but I'm reckoning on well over 2 stone now. A quick trip over the bridge, a hop onto the train and 25mins later we were on our way! Woo!
The start of the walk is quite urban with a little bit of riverside and then what feels like a long slog of roadside industrial walking. But stick with it! You soon come to the very atmospheric Crayford Marshes. A designated SSSI, there's grazing land, mud flats, ancient trees and lots of birds that I couldn't identify, but I'm sure I could given some expert help. We also admired lots of cows and ponies!
|A pill box with lovely cows|
|Tea break and a look at the horses|
|Thames on the left, M25 in the background and River Darent to the right.|
There was quite a lot more of the Darent and River Cray to follow with friendly cyclists and dog walkers to have a little chat with. Then it got a tiny bit urban again as we headed into Crayford. This was a very short bit of road walking and we were soon back on the river.
|River Cray with ancient willows and reed beds|
After this there was another stretch of road walking, but in town and near parkland so not too bad. And then back to the country stuff as we turned off for Hall Place, a Tudor country house with a fantastic tea room and gardens. The plan was to stop here for lunch by nipping through the back gates as suggested on the directions. Unfortunately, these gates don't open until the summer and so we couldn't get in without walking the long way round and in throught the main entrance. Instead, we stopped in the park and ate our falafel and humous sandwiches and had a cup of tea. I'd like to say thanks to the very kind dog walker who helped me back up with Pete as I suddenly lost all strength to cope.
|I think it's quite obvious what Pete's doing here.|
We made a final stop at St Mary's Church in Old Bexley. There had been a plan to have a look around the inside, but the gates were locked and we couldn't get in. It's always a shame when churches can't leave their doors open for fear of theft and vandalism. Churches have been places of quiet reflection and refuge for centuries and now it seems that this is ending. For me, I like to go in and have a nosy, but find it sad when nobody can get in.
|St Mary's Church, Bexley|
|Pete's first Jaffa Cake, but probably not his last|
Even with the missing wallet, a brilliant day! And we even got to stop at Hall Place for tea and cake the next day when I went to collect my wallet!