Back on the bikes – a day trip along the Thames Cycle Path

Back on the bikes – a day trip along the Thames Cycle Path

London, Peckham – Greenwich – Dartford, 35 miles

After six weeks back in the UK, catching up with friends and family over countless meals we were keen to get back on the bikes for a bit of exercise. Having returned to work though, our time was limited, so we chose a local ride along the Thames Cycle Path and were pleased to discover a quiet route with plenty of interesting sights on route.

From our house in Peckham, south-east London, it was a short ride to the old, market town of Greenwich. We didn’t stop to explore the food stalls, but picked up the National Cycle Route 1 next to the impressively restored Cutty Stark. The only surviving tea clipper, when we left London in 2011 she was a burnt out shell after a fire, but now stands tall and proud again having been reopened earlier in 2012.

The National Cycle Route 1 signpost
The National Cycle Route 1 signpost

The Thames Cycle Path heads east along the river, and we cycled out along the front of the National Maritime Museum, with Greenwich Park behind. The park had been the venue for the horse riding during the London 2012 Olympic Games and as we headed along we passed other points of interest related to the Games and enjoyed fantastic views looking back towards London.

The route was well signposted and mainly kept to dedicated cycle lanes or footpaths, a real treat for us after some of the roads we cycled on in South America. We’d taken our hybrid, city bikes rather than our Thorn Nomads, as the path was well-paved and required suspension more than strength.

Having lived in London for over ten years, we were impressed with the route which took us to places we hadn’t visited before. We got brilliant close up views of the Thames Barrier, as the pathway weaves right around the side of the structure which exists to protect London from particularly high tides.

Laura cycling past the Thames Barrier
Laura cycling past the Thames Barrier

East of the Thames Barrier the landscape became industrial, passing factories and waterworks. Although, it doesn’t sound that appealing, it made interesting viewing. It wasn’t too long either, before we were back cycling past the old artillery factories in Woolwich which were now expensive residential apartments. This was the place munitions were made during World War One.

Gradually, the buildings disappeared and we found ourselves in more open ground, a surprise considering we were only about 10 miles away from Greenwich. For a while the cycling was a bit on and off because of having to manoeuvre through gates, designed so that motorbikes can’t get through, but we had the route pretty much to ourselves so it wasn’t too slow.As the huge Dartford Bridge came into sight we were cycling across open fields. Where the River Darent meets the Thames, we turned inland and cycled along grassy tow paths, with just a narrow track for the bikes to follow. We passed horses grazing on the pathway, just as we did in South America and it felt as if we’d escaped London yet again.

Paddy with London behind him
Paddy with London behind him

We left the route here and turned back towards Peckham, deciding to take a more direct route home. This was Paddy’s idea and consequently included a long climb up Shooters Hill where I missed my Rohloff hub as my derailleur crunched uphill. At the top, we cycled along the back of Greenwich Park and battled through the ever-blowing wind across Blackheath, the kite flyers proof of the heath’s blustery conditions.

From there it was a short ride back to Peckham and a well-deserved cup of tea. It felt great to be back on the bikes and nice to be out and about exploring again. And, it seems, you don’t have to travel to the other side of the world to discover new places, history and hills.

2 thoughts on “Back on the bikes – a day trip along the Thames Cycle Path”

  • Glad to see you made it back to UK safe & sound.Hope the transition back to the “new normal”, goes well for you both as a newly weds!……Sandi & I Just back from a month in UK …..Not the best weather, you must be missing the sun!
    We wonder if Paddy ended up back working in insurance ?
    Very best wishes to you both from Whistler…….Open for skiing in 20 days!
    Tim & Sandi

    • Grr… very jealous about Whistler – would love to come over and spend the winter there!
      Yes – we’re definitely not used to spending time in the cold. it’s going to be a long winter for us I reckon.
      I got a contract job for a year working for Lloyd’s of london on the catastrophe modelling regulatory side. Quite an interesting role and change of scene from being in a syndicate. It’s also good that it is finite so that we can start thinking about what to do next!
      What’s next for you guys on the travelling front?
      All the best,
      Paddy (and Laura)

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