This is all in preparation for walking the South Downs Way next week.
Section 1 Erith to Bexley was a 10+ mile(4 hours) hike, not very exciting so I am glad I went on my own. I have now completed the southern half of the London Loop.
Walking along the Thames is always invigorating but it was a long hike out of Erith through grotty industrial areas. Then up the River Darent which meanders between the Dartford and Crayford Marshes, edged in reeds, very lifeless except for the odd pair of ducks and a heron. So different to its hayday when barges plied to and fro to Dartford Paper Mills.
The most exciting thing I saw was a kingfisher, a flash or turquoise blue flying up the River Cray. That made everything worth while. I've only ever seen one other on my walks. A good sign as there must be fish.
The path kept deviating away from the Cray passing through suburbia which was dull.
I checked in at Hall Place which turned out to be a fine tudor mansion with huge topiary animals in the garden. Would have liked to stay longer and go round the house - another time.
The last bit was through Churchfield Woods, rather spooky and silent and the path seemed to go on for ever. Glad to reach Bexley.
View east down the Thames to the Queen Elizabeth 2 bridge, with the mouth of the Darent in the foreground.
Reed beds by the River Darent.
repairing the banks of the river Cray with willow
Hall Place, Bexley
The Queen's Beasts in topiary in front of Hall Place - lion, griffin, falcon, bull, yule, greyhound, dragon, unicorn, white horse