Easter cycle ride: Tilbury & Gravesend

Where: Tilbury & Gravesend – the industrial Thames
When: Saturday 30 March 2013
Meet: 10:00 @ Cutty Sark Gardens, London SE10 9LW (by the foot tunnel entrance)

Brought to you by LCC’s South East London Commissariat for Social Cycle Rides Planning (aka the Dog & Bell Crew), an early springtime exploration of the industrial Thames from Greenwich to the river estuary at Tilbury and Gravesend. I do this ride two or three times a year, and it is among the most requested of my routes. I learned it first from the esteemed Mr Thomas Crispin Esq., a former pedagogue turned property tycoon of this parish.

The ride begins with a 55 kilometre (275 furlongs) spin from Greenwich to the Thames estuary at Tilbury, following the north-side riverbank wherever possible. We cross the river for the second time using the ferry to Gravesend, and ride another 50 kilometres along National Cycle Route #1 back to Greenwich via Dartford, Erith and the Thames Path.

In a little more detail, from Cutty Sark Gardens we follow the Thames Path on its north bank through Docklands to North Woolwich. From there we then wend our way around Gallions Reach, before emerging by Barking Creek onto the A13 cycle path (Cycle Superhighway 3). Shortly after Barking Creek we head back toward the river, and ride through Barking Riverside toward Dagenham, emerging onto the Rainham road.

On reaching Hornchurch Country Park and the River Ingrebourne, we head south through the Ferry Lane industrial area, before re-joining the Thames Path by Coldharbour. After passing the concrete barges and diver statue, we then ride along the side of Rainham Marshes, stopping to feed and water at the RSPB café by the mouth of the River Mardyke at Purfleet.

From Purfleet we continue along the riverbank, past the Dartford Crossing, and through Thurrock, Grays and Tilbury Port. This is a particularly interesting part of the ride, especially the graffiti wall between the Dartford Crossing and Grays. The path is a little rough in places, but manageable on road bikes with skinny tyres. We shall have to dismount to negotiate a few obstacles.

At Tilbury and Gravesend the weary bones can take the train home, while the fit and thrifty can continue with me back to Greenwich along NCR1 from Gravesend to Erith via Dartford. After a stick of rock on Erith Pier we shall follow the Thames Path for the final 125 furlongs back to Maritime Greenwich.

Please ensure that your bikes are in good working order, with tyres free of debris, and pumped up hard! Bring tools, a spare couple of inner tubes, and a puncture repair kit. Also pack plenty of water and energy rich snacks, especially if you are intending to do the entire 100 kilometre ride.

RSVP, but it’s OK to turn up unannounced on the day.