Sun 1 Sep 2013
There were eight riders at Bromley South on a beautiful, though slightly autumnal Sunday morning. There were some new faces so that was very nice: Mark is a Wandsworth Cyclist, Nick who usually rides with Lewisham and Camilla was a first timer, finally Antonio works just around the corner from the LCC office in Bermondsey Street was also a first timer. But the biggest surprise was to welcome Chi back from the Wirral. He is now relocated to the area and has a job in Rochester, so we will be expecting to see a lot more of him in the future.
I have recently located a little cut through from Bromley South which sort of avoids the terrible (for cyclists) right turn at Westmoreland Road. I am hoping that with a little persuasion the council might be convinced to further open up this little cut through so that we have a proper work around for this appalling junction. My route at the moment involves a very short stretch of pavement cycling from Simpsons Road into Aylesbury Road. But as you are descending the hill in Simpsons you can see through the railings the clear line of a cut through which, if opened up, would give access to Aylesbury without touching the highly unpleasant Westmoreland (please just let me have my little reverie for a moment before I continue.)
OK so once into Aylesbury there is a footpath which goes past the end of the footbridge over the railway behind St Mark’s School and emerges into Queen Anne Avenue – neat. You probably knew about this all along but it’s new to me, and if you didn’t know about it before; well you do now, try it and see what you think.
In Queen Anne Avenue we turned north and then west into Kingswood Road and so through to Scotts Lane. This enabled us to ride across the rather cycling-unfriendly Bromley Road rather than up it from Shortlands. This is the junction I recently spoke to Councillors Stephen Wells and Michael Tickner about at the Market on Beckenham Green. It is an accident black-spot and is being assessed after a recent redesign to try and address the problem.
The reason I have allowed myself to go into this amount of detail about the route taken to this point is to highlight the problems of getting from Bromley South to Shortlands and Beckenham on a bike.
We now made our way via Copers Cope to the Waterlink Way and so finally managed to get onto some cycling friendly infrastructure. By now we were running late and it is for this reason that we didn’t go through CatorPark; because of this we missed Yvonne from Penge Cyclists who was waiting for us there. I got a proper rollicking when she eventually caught me up at Greenwich – sorry Yvonne. We did however manage to find Jannet at the bottom of the curly wurly bridge where she had been patiently waiting for us for nigh on half an hour, so another apology due there. We chose not to cross the curly wurly believing that this would make it easier to negotiate the road-works at Ladywell. This was wrong too and we had to walk through the street repair whereas on the other route we would have been able to cycle through.
We were soon making good progress through BrookmillPark and into Deptford. At the top of Norway Street they have done something to create half a one way system so to stay on the cycle route 21 you have to ride the wrong way up a one way street. No signage, no explanation, no attempt show a diversion – pants.
We got to the cafe in the Old Naval College at 11.15 am and stopped for a very nice well deserved coffee and some of us had a piece of cake too! And it was here that I got an ear bashing from Yvonne.
After coffee we set of eastwards along the Thames. We somehow managed to swing off the riverside path before we reached the Dome or should I say O2 arena nowadays. This resulted in us having to cross the Blackwall Tunnel Approach on another curly wurly so that was fun and made up for missing the one in Lewisham.
We regained the river and saw the first of several tall ships making its way downstream. The trip from here to the Pumping Station was uneventful. We paused by the Thames Barrier and were then forced away from the river onto the very hostile Woolwich Road, but were soon able to regain the tranquillity of the Thames Path and arrived at the pumping station just after 1 pm.
The Crossness Pumping Station was built by Sir Joseph Bazalgette as part of Victorian London’s urgently needed main sewerage system. The Beam Engine House is a Grade 1 Listed Industrial Building constructed in the Romanesque style and features some of the most spectacular ornamental Victorian cast ironwork to be found today. It also contains the four original pumping engines (although the cylinders were upgraded in 1901), which are possibly the largest remaining rotative beam engines in the world. Progress with the renovation is clearly continuing apace. On each visit more and more evidence of progress is visible.
We regrouped at 2.15 pm the boats in the Clipper 2013-14 Round the World Race which started from TowerBridge at 1. 30 pm were due to pass us and for a short while discussed whether we should carry on further down the Thames to Erith Pier where we might get a good view of the boats making their way towards the open sea. In the end we decided against and began the homeward journey.
We set off and hadn’t been cycling for very long when the flotilla, if you can call it that, appeared in view. I must say I thought this would be much more spectacular than it proved to be, so a bit of a disappointment, but we stood and watched and waved for a while. I’m certainly pleased we didn’t go all the way to Erith Pier to watch it.
On the return route we stayed to the north of the Dome as we should have done on the outward journey. There has been some good work on the cycle path here and it is a very pleasant ride however it connects to really rough sections which are in need of an upgrade and hopefully this will be happening as this whole area is developed.
Located next to the Millennium Dome is the Quantum Cloud, a contemporary sculpture, designed by Antony Gormley (designer of the Angel of the North). The sculpture was commissioned for the site and was completed in 1999. if you look closely you can see the figure of a man formed by and within the maze of metal pieces, I suspect that this figure will be more obvious when viewed from the seaward side, ‘cos it aint too obvious from where I was looking!!. Clever though!
We got back to the Old College in the mid afternoon and enjoyed some more tea. About half of the riders peeled away here to their nearby homes or to trains to taken them homewards.
The reduced sized ride then headed back down the Waterlink Way taking in the curly wurly and making it back to Bromley via CatorPark at 5.30 pm.
Ride stats: 38½ miles at a very unhurried 8.7 mph in 4½ hrs cycling time. Lovely company hope you can all come again in the future!
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