Nine walkers met at Erith station on a pleasant spring day for this first stage of the London LOOP. It was particularly nice to see Jacob, new to GOC, and Zoe, who had travelled all the way from Northampton to join us.
Initially we passed along the Erith riverside then on to the wide open spaces and long views of the Thames estuary and Crayford marshes, looking across to Essex. The tide was very low, exposing huge expanses of raised mud banks. A number of species of water fowl could be seen, including shelduck, godwit and oystercatcher.
We then turned away from the Thames, initially along the River Darent and then the Cray. The walk, while having its scenic highlights, also passed scrap metal yards and other typical 'edge-city' industrial sites, which showed just how much waste a metropolis like London produces.
After a suburban section of the Cray, we arrived in Crayford, formerly an important river crossing on the London-Dover Watling Street. We ate our sandwiches in a small public open space by the river, before the whole party had tea and cake at the quaint Vintage Lindy Lou tea room.
On the latter part of the route we passed through meadow land, skirting the Jacobean Hall Places. We could see its grounds and trees as we crossed the A2 by an underpass, but the building was secluded from view. Then, just before Bexley, there was a lovely section of woodland, where early spring flowers, such as wood anemone and lesser celandine, were in bloom.
On arriving at Bexley village we found that the church was open, unusual for London when no services are scheduled. The parish clerk was there, preparing tea and soft drinks for another group due to arrive on a sponsored walk. Among the interesting facts she told us about the large and impressive church was that the Queen Mother’s grandmother was married there.
It only remained for us to walk along Bexley High Street to the station, arriving there at about 3pm. Our nine-mile walk had finished all too soon. It had been a great day out with the forecast showers never materialising and the sunny spells lasting longer than the cloudy intervals.
Thanks to Chris L, Chris W, Robin, Robert and Andrew, Paul, Zoe and Jacob for their company.