Sunday, 30 May 2021

A new decade

 Last week I celebrated a significant birthday.

Fortunately, lockdown restrictions were eased a few days before and myself, daughter, son, Dil and grandchildren were able to meet up and spend a few days together to celebrate. 

Last Summer I booked a lodge at CentreParcs thinking the restrictions of the pandemic would be in the past! It then became a nail biting time wondering if I would be able to celebrate at all. However, just four days before my birthday the rules were changed and I would be able to celebrate the day with my closest family.

My daughter baked this fabulous cake which was delicious. She also made a video of messages from friends and relatives which was emotional, funny and full of special memories for me.

My son and Dil arranged the activities for the weekend which involved rock climbing, Segway, crazy golf, ten pin bowling, badminton, table tennis, swimming and more! We had such a good time that few photos were taken.

Monday, 17 May 2021

Thames Path: Erith to Dartford Creek

 Erith station was just a few minutes walk from Erith Riverside where I finished my last walk along the Thames path. I am following the Thames downstream from the Thames Barrier. Today I have travelled by train to Erith so I don't have to retrace my steps back to the car. I have an ordnance survey map of the area so should be able to sort out how to get home after a few miles walking. This area is totally new to me so I am looking forward to hopefully finding places of interest. Once back on the path I saw Erith Pier. 

This is the first time I have seen a pier like this on a river. This type of long pier is common by the seaside but not riversides.

It was quite wide and had a number of benches situated at intervals. The original  135m wooden pier was built here in 1842 and was followed two years later with a Pier hotel offering people an overnight stop outside the city. Then in 1845 Erith opened its pleasure gardens to include lots of Victorian entertainments such as a maze, archery, green bowling amidst pleasant surroundings. There were also steamer ships that stopped at the pier each day to collect office workers and take them into the City of London. For seven years this was the way gentlemen would travel into London but then the railway arrived in Erith, a much quicker way to commute to work.

Then in 1865 the Outlet Works opened at Crossness disgorging 70 million gallons of raw sewage into the river at high tide Not something you want to smell as it passes beneath your hotel room! It didn't take long for the newly found leisure activities to fail and in 1865 the pier, hotel and gardens were sold at auction. An increase in industries along the Thames at Erith thrived. The long pier was now used to unload cargo ships as it provided access to a deep water wharf. Cargoes such as coal, seeds for the nearby oil mills and paper for the newspaper industry were all unloaded here until the 1950s

In 1957, new deep water facilities were required and a new concrete 360m pier was built allowing access to larger ships The Pier hotel which had been used as offices was demolished to make way for warehouses. Erith's industry declined during the 60s and 70s and the pier abandoned. It was only in 1999 when the supermarket chain 'Morrisons' built on  the site that the pier was made a public amenity. Now it is popular with anglers, bird spotters and walkers.

Looking back at the pier from the Thames Path.

For a while it was very pleasant walking along the path but then it became very industrial and I had to come away from the river and walk along a very busy and dirty road.

I eventually saw the sign taking me back to the river along this narrow road.

At the end of the road was this disgraceful illegal dumping of rubbish. What is even more frustrating is that I had walked past waste disposal units that were open to the public.

A gateway led me onto this stony path down to the river.
On my left I could see Erith Yacht Club, founded in 1900. 

This part of Crayford Marsh is known locally as the 'Saltings' and contains one of the last significant pieces of saltmarsh along the inner Thames Estuary. Erith saltings is a unique habitat with a special character and history. However, the area is currently under threat from rising sea levels. The saltings have been eroding as a result to changes to the tides and waves which have become stronger as more water comes in and out of the estuary on every tide. The estuary is unable to expand because of tidal defences. 

I followed the river round past the waste and scrap metal sites which were very noisy but that didn't seem to disturb the birds feeding at the edge of the river.

I now had a clear view  of the  QE2 bridge (Dartford crossing) - the last bridge over the Thames. 

Before reaching the bridge I had to go inland quite a way to get across the Darent River, one of the tributaries of the Thames. Where the River Darent joins the River Thames it is known as Dartford Creek. This tidal river, with its tributary the River Cray, provided a trading link between the Thames, Dartford and Crayford from Medieval times. Through the 19th century barges travelled along the Creek to Dartford's paper mills.

The Creek is lined with reeds and in summer is populated by warblers.

This is Dartford Creek Tidal Barrier. Constructed in the 1970s, as part of London's flood defences, the barrier is lowered at times of high tide in the River Thames to prevent flooding upstream of Dartford and Crayford.

 I decided I would end my walk inland and find my way to Slade Green station where I could get a train home. I didn't see anyone on my walk today maybe because it is midweek. I was ok with that except for the last footpath between the hawthorn hedges which seemed to go on and on. As there were no signposts I wasn't too sure I was on the right path although I had checked it out on a map. Just felt a little uneasy for a while.

An information board by the end of the path told me this was Howbury Moat and the Tithe Barn. The moated structure here was owned by the half-brother of William the Conqueror in the 11th century and was inhabited until 1935. The Tithe Barn dates from the 1600s.

The station was just a short walk from here. Next time I will get a train to Dartford station which is on the other side of the Darent river and then see if I can get back to the Thames Path from there and continue my journey towards the sea,

Sharing with Our World Tuesday

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Bluebell time


It's that time of the year when we have the beautiful blue haze covering the ground. Here's a few photos of my favourite woodland walk amongst the bluebells.