Today continued on familiar territory and on a route I had managed to test beforehand, so I was pretty confident about what lay ahead. I was also well-rested, having spent the night at home in my own bed. As I live stone’s throw from where I was due to start, it also meant being able to get up slightly later. I was nervous about the weather, as the route was much more exposed, but as it turned out, the sky was overcast for much of the day and there was a cool breeze. I don’t know whether also being close to the river as it widens out also made a difference, but i would say these were almost ideal running conditions, despite the temperature still being in the low 20s and rising.
The first part kept close to the river past familar sites, including the OXO Tower, Tate Modern and The Globe Theatre until Clink Street, just before London Bridge, where it continues to divert around Southwark Cathedral until past London Bridge Station, where it is possible to cut in just before Hays Galleria, and rejoin the river on the section that leads to Tower Bridge, also passing the Mayoral Office and through to Butler’s wharf. At this time of the day, it was still too early for there to be too many tourists, so there was plenty of space.
The path then got more fiddly around Bermondsey and Rotherhithe especially, which weave in and out of short sections close to the river and others where access is closed off. This is sometimes to do with the nature of the building, but in other cases it was new developments. There was a short section back on the riverside, before the approach Deptford, where I passed the very lovely Surrey Dock Farm, before the route went inland again a couple of times, then almost a mile before I had to make a more extended diversion at Pepys Park through Deptford for a good mile or so before I could rejoin the riverside close to Greenwich.
The new section linking the other side of Deptford to Greenwich is much more accessible and from there to the Thames Barrier is very straight-forward. It keeps very close to the river, past the beautiful old naval college (now Trinity school of Music and Greenwich University) and later the Millenium Dome and village and Greenwich Peninsula developemnt, including the new site for Ravensbourne University and the Emirates cable car crossing.
There are only small detours around the back of the Trafalgar pub, a mixed concrete site towards mile 9 and later round the back of Greenwich yacht club, just before mile 11. It’s around this time that I usually start to flag, but it didn’t feel too bad today. It was good to know that I was well past the half way mark. There was a short section back on the river and then another detour around the back of some small industries and the Hope & Anchor pub, after which it was a straight run to the Thames Barrier. The approach to this is quite something and is visible in the distance, at least a mile ahead. This, at 12 miles also marked a significant point meaning only about 5 miles to go. A short path took me down some steps and back next to the river, before i had to detour past the cafe and cut through the Thameside studio complex that also includes London Sculpture Workshop and Thameside Print Studio, amongst other enterprises. This is a great complex that I wish I didn’t live so far from.
Whilst the detour is still a bit of a nuisance, it’s much shorter and better than it used to be. The path through the studio complex cuts out a whole section of the horrible A206 you used to have to take to get back down to the river; now a new section of path has opened up just round the corner from the studios. This takes you straight through to Woolwich and it should have been straight path along the to the Woolwich Ferry Terminal, except for another detour due to a new developent. Luckily this wasn’t too long, though it did take me momentarily back on the A206. Back on the riverside, it was then a more or less uninterrupted path to my destination. This section through Woolwich and then to the other side where the river widens and really begins to look like the estuary, is my favourite part of the journey and is the part of the new Thame Path extension. It looks quite rugged and desolate, but well maintained and includes green areas such as Plumstead Marshes alongside houses and parks. It is also a popuar area for anglers. As I passed through I was starting to struggle as I normally do over the last few miles, but it helped to be in such an amazing part of outer London. My journey ended at the site of the old pumping station, just before the Crossness sewage Treatment Works at Belvedere. This wasn’t so much by design than for practicality, as the Ridgeway path exit was the easiest way out and will be thee asiest way back in tomorrow.
This will be back on uncharted territory and I am midly apprehensive, but also looking forward to it.