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22 August: Arkley to Woolwich

posted 25 Aug 2010, 06:58 by South Herts   [ updated 31 Dec 2016, 00:58 ]
Bill writes: Hampton Court: That was the original objective but British Rail/TFL have decided to close the North London Line every weekend until 2012.  So we had to make do with a visit to the sewers of East London (more later).
Despite the horrible weather early on Sunday nine of us set off from Barnet - five from St Albans, two straight down the A1000 and two of us from Barnet - in the dry.  We hurtled down the old A1 to Highgate where we joined the old railway path, which has been considerably improved, to elevenses in Finsbury Park.
 Meeting point at Arkley, Barnet
Parkland Walk, Highgate

From there, we wiggled through the streets past the two Arsenal football grounds (one of which is now blocks of flats) to eventually join up with the path alongside the Regents Park Canal.  We left this at Victoria Park and were a little concerned to find a huge fence around the second part of the park.  This seemed to be for some sort of festival and, fortunately, they left a gap in the fence so that we could continue on our ride.  From here we joined the Greenway.  I had always thought this was a disused railway line, but it is in fact the main sewer taking all our effluent to Beckton for processing.  This is built above ground with a huge earth bank on top, which makes an ideal cycle path!
 Regents canal, Shoreditch
 Regents canal, Haggerston
First stop outside the Olympic Park: It is amazing to see how quickly the stadium, which was just a building site two years ago, has now been built.  It looks almost finished from the outside and many other buildings, including blocks of flats for the athletes' accommodation, can be seen in the background. 
 Greenway at Old Ford (Northern Outfall Sewer)
 Olympic hopefuls?
We then carried on past Bazelgette's northern sewage plant and follow the Greenway until we eventually joined a short section of road past the London City Airport and on to the Woolwich Ferry.  Only one ferry running, but we still made it across in good time to have lunch in Wetherspoon's in South Woolwich.
 Our first 'superhighway'
After this, the route along the South Bank becomes very tortuous but we carried on past the Thames Barrier, Greenwich Hospital and the Cutty Sark (of which there seems to be very little left).  

 Thames Barrier.

Erected in 1999 by the Millenium Dome, Quantum Cloud is Antony Gormley's tallest work standing at some 30 metres high and rising from a platform bedded in the Thames.

 Russia Dock 
 The Royal Naval College, Greenwich.  Site also of the birthplace of Henry V111. 
Further on whilst Carol and Steve were having a mechanical problem we realised we were near to the Brunel Museum.  Ever on the lookout for a new tea room, we left them to it! This Museum is just beside the shaft of the original first public tunnel under a navigable river. The tunnel still exists and now forms part of the London Overground line from Dalston to West Croydon.
 Tea stop at Brunel Museum
Suitably refreshed, and Steve and Carol back with us, we set out dodging the crowds along the South Bank until Blackfriars Bridge, from where we headed north passing several of Boris' new cycle hire stands and on to Euston, St Pancras or Kings Cross for our various journeys home - and we only lost two riders!
Boris' Bikes
Tower Bridge & HMS Belfast