Monday, September 11, 2017
Erith to Bexley
Let me say right off the bat that I feel insensitive blogging about anything other than Irma, given that my family and friends are being walloped. The storm is happening now, but it seems like it's not as bad as first feared. So consider today's post a reprieve from hurricane news.
I walked another segment of the London Outer Orbital Path (LOOP) yesterday. I started in Erith, on the opposite bank of the Thames from where I walked a few weeks ago, and wound past the pub above and through the marshes along the rivers Darent and Cray to Bexley.
The bit along the Thames was surprisingly industrial. There were a few lost shopping carts...
...and some large scrap yards and recycling and waste centers alongside the path. But all I had to do was turn around, so that I was facing the Thames, to see...
...seals! Yes, those really are seals. Two of them. I would have missed them except another man on the path, seeing my camera -- and probably wondering why I was photographing the scrap yard -- pointed them out to me. Thank goodness!
Here's a super-enlargement of the above photo, so you can see his (or her?) flippers and whiskers. Apparently seals are not uncommon along the lower Thames, where they arrive from the North Sea.
The River Darent was largely an open, muddy expanse. But the River Cray, once I'd moved away from the Thames, became much more overgrown with vegetation and reeds. It flowed through a combination of residential and industrial areas. (Do you see that big sunflower in the picture above? Very impressive!)
In Crayford, I came across these metal cows, frolicking in a pasture at Shenstone Park. The cows commemorate a herd that lived here beginning in the 1840s. Their manure was used to help fix dyes used in silk printing -- an industry that apparently put Crayford on the map.
And farther along the path, I passed two ornate cast-iron lamp posts. They're the last surviving remnants of an old theater, and date from the 1880s. They now stand guard over an automotive garage.
From there, I walked through woods and fields to get to Bexley. Along the way I had a little diversion: I looked to the side of the path at one point and saw a small briefcase, or a big purse, about ten feet up a hill toward the edge of a very busy road. I could tell immediately that it was probably stolen and discarded there. I debated what to do, and decided to climb up to get it.
I was right. It contained car keys, passports and other documents. The papers were a bit moldy, so it had probably been there a while, but the passports were in a plastic baggie and seemed fine. I touched it as little as possible and didn't look at the contents beyond pulling the bag open for a quick glance. I decided to take it to Bexley and turn it in to the police.
Well, you'd think finding a police station in Bexley would be easy, but here's a fun fact: If you put "Bexley Police Station" into the maps app on an iPhone -- even while standing in Bexley, London -- it directs you to the police in Bexley, Ohio! Not helpful!
I asked a couple on the street if Bexley had a police station, and alas, they said no -- they directed me instead to Bexleyheath, a 15-minute bus ride away. So I went there and turned in the bag -- the police seemed appreciative, though one officer was put off when a spider climbed out of it. Then I took another bus back to Bexley and had a cafe lunch before catching the train for home.
I can tell these LOOP walks are going to provide no end of adventure!