Author Topic: Shoeburyness - London: the less sensible way  (Read 2495 times)

Andrij

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Shoeburyness - London: the less sensible way
« on: July 29, 2016, 10:55:57 pm »
I used to do a lot of exploring by bicycle, especially along London’s waterways.  Though not a morning person, I’d often leave home just as the skies would begin to lighten to make maximum use of daylight and quiet hours.  Yes, sometimes my journeys would take me through places which weren’t technically opened to cyclists, so best to explore when there’s no one about.  In spite of having the time, I’ve done very little exploring these last few years – the most recent exploration was planning for last year’s overnight Thames Path Meander.

I’ve explored the south bank of the Thames from Kingston-upon-Thames to Greenhithe.  I’ve done the north bank between Hampton Wick and Grays as well as Leigh-on-Sea and Southend (the latter section courtesy of FNRttC).

I’ve always intended to explore all of the Thames between ‘London’ and the sea.  With the weather going a bit warm I figured any likely off-road sections would have firmed up, so it was time to fill in some gaps.  I decided to fill in the north bank gaps with a ride from Shoeburyness back to London.

I had mentioned the idea to Wowbagger, who said he might join me for some of the ride.  As I arrived at Shoeburyness Station just after 6 AM he was there waiting for me.  The route I had planned had us taking a path directly opposite the station straight to the shore, but Wowbagger took us up the road to MoD Shoeburyness where the coastal path begins.  Many thanks to him for thinking of completeness.

 

It was a pleasant ride to Southend along shared and segregated cycle paths.  Being early we carried on along the sea wall pausing at Leigh to watch an attempt to lift a beached boat.  Neither of us could figure out the point of the exercise (the tide would eventually come in and lift it) so we carried on.



The route from Leigh past Two Tree Island (I saw more than two) through Hadley Marsh and Hadley Castle Country Park was pleasant, if a bit rough.




Battle of Benfleet memorial

After a bit of hunting we found a place open for breakfast in Benfleet, following which Wowbagger returned home and I continued my journey.

This was where things started to become interesting, quickly moving from an easy ride to ‘I think this is a good time to walk for a bit’.  Some relief came by diverting along a dirt-bike track (not on any maps) between East Haven Creek and the waste water plant just east of Canvey Way, but I soon returned to walking.


   

Having crossed under Canvey Way I found myself at the edge of a field where there was supposed to be a footpath of some sort.  There was no such thing.  I struck off in the right direction and eventually found the path running through RSPB Bowers Marsh.  At the western edge a path branches off toward Wat Tyler Country Park, but this was blocked by a locked gate and the area was fenced off.  As it was near the landfill and I could not see the end of my intended route I decided to find my way out of RSPB BM.

Though the diversion eventually took me up the longest climb on the route and the highest point (38m!) it also took me past the lovely St. Margaret of Antioch Church.

   

I rejoined my planned route in Pitsea but dropped down to Wat Tyler Country Park to see if I could find the other end of my intended route.  I couldn’t, but did realise that it would be going through the Veolia landfill.  Though I could have explored the park a bit I returned to my route and pressed on.

In Vange (at one time Phenge) I visited All Saints Church, near Five Bells, which dates back to the 12th century.

On through Fobbing and Corringham, where I ended up on an old High Road south of the A1014.  It was quiet, well surfaced – and interrupted by a new dual cabbage way leading to DP World London Gateway.  The pleasant thought of such a sizeable facility to welcome Displaced Persons (I could be wrong) did not make up for the purpose-built crossing of said dual cabbage way – one side was surfaced with large gravel and the whole thing added around 1.5km to the journey!  At least I got some fun pictures along the next section.

     

I pressed on through Thurrock Thameside Nature Park, Stanford Warren Nature Reserve, and neighbouring lands.



This was where the COR went all the way up to 11.  The motor vehicle width dirt tracks were generally fine.  On the other hand:
* some were covered in grass tall enough to hide holes/wheel ruts;
* in places where you could see the wheel ruts they were at least bottom bracket deep and filled with stagnant water – and with a horrible rough bit between them;
* in spite of the heatwave, some sections were so swampy I was sinking nearly ankle-deep into the mire; and
* in other places where the track became a footpath, it was so overgrown it was impossible to cycle.  My forearms and shins are covered in scratches from brambles and I often couldn’t avoid stinging nettles.  Ugh.





I felt relief when I reached the river again in East Tilbury.  I noticed a narrow concrete path along the river side of the flood defences, but as I didn’t want to inconvenience walkers and I wasn’t sure where/how it would end, I followed the track.  It was rough, and I was getting tired of off-roading.  I eventually found my up and over the wall to the path.  Though a bit overgrown in places, it was so much nicer than the dirt track.

I had a bit of a look around Coalhouse Fort then pressed on to Tilbury Fort.  At the Tilbury Sewage Treatment Works I encountered the lovely facility pictured below, with a matching facility on the other side of the wall.  I carried my bike.



After a necessary diversion inland I was back on the river in Grays and on familiar ground.  Ham and I had ridden along here when returning from Southend to collect (or was it hand over?) the baton.  At that time we turned off to London Road when the sensible path disappeared.  This time I carried the bike up and down some stairs to spend a bit more time along the river.

In West Thurrock I made a slight diversion to see St. Clement’s Church, of FNRttC (and cinema) fame.



After crossing under the QE2 Bridge I was back within the M25 and on home turf.  Onward through Purfleet and Rainham Marshes, stopping to see The Diver and the WW2 concrete barges.  I was again reminded there is a shared use path directly from the marshes to the train station, which I must check out one of these days.  I encountered some travellers who were parked up on a section of road which dead-ends at the train tracks (there used to be a level crossing until Eurostar/HS1 came along).  You wouldn’t believe the dirty looks they gave me.  Sorry, folks, but that is still a public highway, not your lounge.



On the other side of the tracks I stopped for a restorative G&T (OK, two) before pressing on through Dagenham, where what’s left of the Ford plant keeps you away from the river.  After a stop at the Barking Creek flood barrier it was on to Beckton, then a turn back north to home.


Route

Shoeburyness to home was around 110km, whereas my mapped route was just over 90.  Not bad, I think.  The weather was hot, the route was rougher than I expected, I’m not a fan of cycling through thorny plants and stinging nettles, but…  I had fun.  :-D

I’ll do it again at some point, though not this year.  I think next on the agenda will be catching a train to Greenhithe, pointing myself east, and seeing where I end up.

A few other photographs have been posted in other threads; all (many with captions) can be found here.
;D  Andrij.  I pronounce you Complete and Utter GIT   :thumbsup:

SoreTween

  • Most of me survived the Pennine Bridleway.
Re: Shoeburyness - London: the less sensible way
« Reply #1 on: July 30, 2016, 10:35:57 am »
Spot any aligators?



You wouldn’t believe the dirty looks they gave me.  Sorry, folks, but that is still a public highway, not your lounge.
Yes, yes we would.  Paging General Cheeseburger.

Thanks for sharing.  Some interesting places, some picturesque and some that look, how can I put this... Neither.
2019 targets: TINAT 160 rough
There is only one infinite resource in this universe; human stupidity.

Andrij

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Re: Shoeburyness - London: the less sensible way
« Reply #2 on: July 30, 2016, 11:49:21 am »
Spot any aligators?



No, but I didn't hang around long to look.  I figured safer not to dilly-dally!

Thanks for sharing.  Some interesting places, some picturesque and some that look, how can I put this... Neither.

From central London to the sea, the banks of the Thames include the gorgeous and the gruesome, and call at all stops in between.  For me, that's part of the charm of these rides.
;D  Andrij.  I pronounce you Complete and Utter GIT   :thumbsup:

Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Re: Shoeburyness - London: the less sensible way
« Reply #3 on: August 15, 2016, 11:00:40 pm »
interesting stuff. My parents have lived in Leigh on Sea for the past 30+ years. When I first moved down to London and was living in Muswell Hill I often used to cycle down to see them after work, straight down the old A13, which was still single carriageway for much of the way, stay overnight and cycle back the following morning, often up the A127 between two lanes of slow moving cars.  I've not cycled down to see them for more than 15 years and I don't know what route I would take if I were to try it. I'm sure it's possible to put something together, as Andrij has done in reverse, but it still doesn't look to be a lot of fun and adds a disproportionate number of miles to the journey.  It's astonishing that such a densely populated area, so close to London, has been rendered virtually inaccessible by bike.
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

Cudzoziemiec

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Re: Shoeburyness - London: the less sensible way
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2016, 12:05:50 am »
Exploring by bicycle is wonderful. It makes for adventures regardless of how near home you are or how short a distance you cover. And you seem to have done proper exploring on this ride; stopping to look at stuff, poke around and see what's in places. Three churches, two forts and a sewage works!  :D

Quote
On the other side of the tracks I stopped for a restorative G&T (OK, two)
Surely that's not enough to explain this?
 
;D
An ungovernable laughter, a joyous agitation which makes the summer stretching before you seem like an unrolling canvas on which you might draw those first rude pure strokes that are free. (Capote)

Andrij

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Re: Shoeburyness - London: the less sensible way
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2016, 09:34:14 am »
Quote
On the other side of the tracks I stopped for a restorative G&T (OK, two)
Surely that's not enough to explain this?
 
;D

You've gotta start somewhere.  8)
;D  Andrij.  I pronounce you Complete and Utter GIT   :thumbsup:

Re: Shoeburyness - London: the less sensible way
« Reply #6 on: August 19, 2016, 03:54:50 pm »
Thanks, Andrij!  I've been doing a fair amount of "off-road" exploring myself this year, so the mention of brambles and nettles chimed well with my own experiences.  Some wonderful names you've got, too - Vange and Fobbing - great fun.  Thanks again.

Peter

Re: Shoeburyness - London: the less sensible way
« Reply #7 on: August 19, 2016, 04:23:07 pm »
If you ever go down to Shoeburyness... Can't help but be reminded of this from the Bard of Barking:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FdVjtXkQuxQ

They laughed when I said I was going to be a stand-up comedian. They're not laughing now.

velosam

  • '.....you used to be an apple on a stick.'
Re: Shoeburyness - London: the less sensible way
« Reply #8 on: October 27, 2016, 04:37:33 pm »
Great write up. I am too not a far of stinging nettles and brambles are there are loads in the woods where I sometimes ride.