Rainham Marshes Ride

We have enjoyed an absolutely wonderful ride today. A real Bromley Cyclists cycling Adventure out of the legendary Steve Watkin book of adventures.

There were just nine riders today who met at Orpington, and shortly after 10 am set of for the Dartford River Crossing. Ride Leader Tracey took us along backwaters, quiet lanes, green lanes and paths rarely trod on another wonderful twisty turny route that I shall have difficulty finding again.

When I did an explorer for this ride a year ago I ended up following a shared used path alongside the A2 which was little short of dreadful, so how lovely to follow something civilised today. In Dartford I had to cycle down a set of steps. So it is with absolute delight that I record Tracey’s super route to the river.

It had been suggested that if we phoned ahead to the Dartford Crossing Control then our passage over would likely be a lot quicker. I was sceptical but what was to lose.

The ride to Dartford took longer than anticipated so we were around twenty minutes later than we said we would be. I phoned the control room.

“Bradley Wiggins here.” Says I. “There’s nine cyclists for the crossing please. How long will we have to wait?”

“About 2½ minutes” comes the reply.

And sure enough within 5 minutes 2 trucks arrive ready to carry us to the North.

Loading the bikes took a few minutes, as did off loading at the other end.

Our driver was really friendly and most helpful. I tried to tip him but he would have none of it insisting it was all part of the service. Alison did persuade him to accept a piece of her absolutely delicious homemade chocolate brownie so we felt that we had done the right thing. Chapeaux driver, you are a gentleman.

The crossing took no more than 40 minutes from beginning to end so what was planned to be the lunch break was abandoned. On the North side we set off for the Rainham Marshes RSPB visitor centre and it was here we stopped for lunch, sitting out in the warm afternoon sunshine and sheltered from the strong breeze now blowing into our faces. And it was here that us cyclists were treated to Alison’s chocolate brownies. To die for. Thank you Alison

Lunch complete, and us replete, we set off across the reserve. At Rainham we joined the cycle path alongside the main road. It has to be admitted that the next leg of the journey was pretty grim. There is little alternative to following the main roads clogged with the filth and detritus discarded from vehicles passing through at a rate of something which must approach 10,000 cars an hour. It’s horrendous, anyone who wishes to argue against the benefits of cycling and walking should be taken to the A13 and forced sit in a deck chair alongside the roaring traffic for 8 hours a day until they get the message.

We wobbled a bit coming off the A13/LCN13/ CS3 but eventually located the path down towards city airport and the Excel Centre. This is a route that always seems to confuse me but Tracey’s ever reliable navigation soon had us going in the right direction.

At the Excel centre Sue was able to lead us to a little café tucked slightly out of the way and here we had a tea and, blessings, more brownies.

After tea made our way to the cable car and after a short wait we boarded and made our way back to the safety of the south side.

We were running rather late by now so we cut out the trip around the millennium dome, in favour of crossing the tunnel traffic queueing nose to tail on that other south London curly wurly bridge, and soon joined the Waterlink Way towards home. We came across a rather nasty cyclist on cyclist collision, but the casualty declined any aid so we pressed on arriving in Bromley just ahead of the rain.

A sincere thank you to Ride Leader Tracey who led us safely around a wonderful route.

Unfortunately my computer set up has not recorded the ride properly so my stats are a bit suspect.

Distance – c49 miles
Pedalling time – 4 hours 41 minutes
Total time 8½ hours

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