Saturday's Greenway ride report
- Beckton Greenway Ride: Saturday 1 December 2001
(ed: terrible untasty name for an east end revelatory fine new discovery
20 slow exploring flat miles, of which only a mile or so was on road.
docks and one only sometimes steaming 5 mile sewer).
10am Cutty Sark meet. Six of us. Me, Claire, Doug, Doug, Roger,
Peter. R trued up my waggling front wheel. Last arrival turned up at 10.25.
Cutty Sark to Thames Barrier along the Thames path. Coffee. Good to see
Greenwich Cyclists mench in new Peninsula News there. (“A former gas works
being turned into the most innovative and environmentally sensitive
community in the UK” says English Partnerships. Struth. Where’s the ASA?
About the area, not GCy).
Path to Woolwich Ferry and over. Ferry boys behaved.
Path through Royal Victoria Park Gardens.
Pavement over Royal Docks entrance and City Airport flightpath. (Fab
non-Greek place to watch planes from, but not on Saturday afternoons when it
’s closed. Odd).
Pavement up poet named Eastern Gateway Access Road (and spurious spur
deadended ready for new Thames crossing. Watch this space).
Overgrown bike path up to horrendous huge Newham Way/Woolwich Manor Way
junction with no pedestrian crossing at all right by Beckton Alps dry ski
And there’s the peter Greenway. It’s a raised path on top of the northern
sewer that runs from east London to Beckton sewage works. The other side’s
version of our very own Crossness. Built by the Victorians and the awesome
Bazalgette. (Repetition: whose great grandson makes some dumb 1984ish show
about people shut up in a house together. Great man shifted it, sprog makes
it). (Sewer me).
The Greenway route east is blocked off. Some day we’ll explore the Beckton
works. So we headed west……….5 very straight off-road tarmacked miles….few
too many motorbike gates but they work...hard to know where you are but it’s
East Ham, Plaistow, West Ham….the huge East
London Cemetery and then the river Lea/Lee floodplain………first crossing is
the Channelsea River and lake, then you have to run across the motorway
called High Street that roars into Stratford…then there’s the gorgeously
ornate Abbey Mills pumping station, then the Three Mills Wall River, then
City Mill River, then the main canalised River Lee navigation…and the
towpaths we use…..all in less than a mile.
Over the Lee pedestrian bridge and the path narrows behind a factory wall,
ivy brushes as you narrow along it…..Wick Lane is what you don’t want to
dream about awake alone at 3am……it’s car-breaker heaven. Opposite is a pair
of tall wooden gates…..two maniac killer dogs just manage to get their fang’
d slavering barking mad faces out at you. We turn right past a dozen flayed
wrecks of cars, entrails everywhere through the rainbow oiled puddles…..and
back onto the path where a useful board ignores the crap and points us to
the Bryant and May match factory (now lofts) where in 1888 the women who
hand made matches from phosphorous got fed up with the lower half of their
faces rotting away and went on one of the first ever strikes…for safety
equipment. (cf The Match Girls Strike and Fossy Jaw).
And then its round the corner by the A102(M) East Cross Route/Blackwall
Tunnel Approach (the only 2 mile stretch of motorway inflicted on fairly
central London…but watch this space) and suddenly we’re in Victoria Park
(where some of us colissaw Gladiator al fresco last summer) created around
1860 “to save thousands of lives a year from urban pollution and add several
years to the average local lifespan”).
It was 1.40pm and the riders were getting restless. Lunch beckoned. We
couldn’t find the Dunwich Dynamo Pub on the Park but got lucky. The organic
Crown pub at Crown Gate East, junction of Grove Road and Old Ford Road was a
fine find. A beautifully scrubbed out old local boozer with a deep green
ceiling, interesting loos, organic beers and a good all day menu. They could
do with a cheap staple dish coz the food was a little pricey, but worth it
for the effort. Very recommended. The barman was slightly amazed that my
held plastic paid for all….not sure he understood my “they give good
cashback”. Good to see stack of latest Pedal Power there as we left. (Why is
there no such reconstituted airy, light, smokefree good food pub in
Out the pub and into Grove Road for 300 metres, then it’s fab reborn Mile
End park for a mile and a half and the wonderful green and treed bridge
over the six-laned A11 Mile End Road. (At the planning stage the AA
objected……trees over a trunk road will distract drivers….). We switched
effortlessly from the park onto the towpath of the Grand Union Canal for the
2 miles back to Limehouse Basin (where we usually Limehouse Cut it) and the
car-free fiddle down the middle (sorry, aptly listening to Ian Drury as I
cortina this. Itinerant child) of the Isle of Dogs, Island Garden, and the
1 December 2001
Southend tomorrow….will this weekend Beatle theme continue?…..I grew up to
their music (then discovered the Stones and dodgier stuff)…George Harrison
died Friday. Sim’s sound system on Friday’s Critical Mass played a great
selection of their more timelesstracks…..so did Kings Cross’s Liquid lounge
after (only £5 to get in, open till 3, and the bouncers don’t look twice at
lycra shorts and leg bandages) and when I was a student I spent a long
weekend guarding the Theatre Royal Stratford when it was being used to film
part of The Magic Christian…..Beatle drummer Ringo Starr’s truly awful film.
(Long weekend: continuous shift from 6pm Friday to 8am Monday). And I sold
my provenanced Beatles autographs and flimsy fan club Christmas EPs when I
was broke and hungry two years ago. So it goes while my guitar gently weeps.