Pedalling for St.Peter’s Blog: Day 9, Dartford

Welcome to day 9 of Pedalling for St.Peter’s, Julia Mercer’s blog about her 292 mile pilgrimage from Huddersfield Parish Church to Canterbury Cathedral. Julia’s aim is to raise funds to help in the repair of the ceiling at the Parish Church, as well as demonstrating sustainable travel via the use of the UK’s National Cycle Network.

“Pleasant stay in the hostel and had a good sleep, which didn’t stop me setting off in the wrong direction this morning…

Another watery day, following the river Lee down into London. It’s canal-like, with lots of house boats, some of them beautifully decorated and one with runner beans rambling all over it. The day started rainy but cheered up.

Giant electricity pylons marched along beside me for the first few miles and at one point actually straddled the path so I was riding through them. The hedgerows are now loaded with luscious ripe blackberries and elderberries are turning black. I rode along some peculiar derelict parts of the river where I thought I had missed the way; the water covered in green weed and rubbish, few people about and the path cracked and weedy. It was a bit spooky. I’m realising how near to the surface paranoia and suspicion lie when one is alone.

I’d stopped to fill in a Sustrans survey outside a cafe at Walthamstow Marshes when the dreaded glass on the tracks struck again….Puncture! Lucky I’d repaired the old tube and could swap it again. The sun came out and it was quite jolly, and I had an argument with a loud man who was saying nasty things about Sustrans. However we ended in mutual agreement, he had a point that we need proper dedicated cycle tracks beside roads, like in Holland. What I’m doing, pottering along in a leisurely wiggly fashion, is fine if one has time.

And so into London. It was thrilling to ride up to the Thames. I crossed via the Greewich foot tunnel. A nice helpful chap carried my panniers while I took the bike up the stairs, the south lift being out of action. Then a long and winding road to Dartford, as the landscape grew flat and empty with enormous skies over the Thames estuary.

I’m staying with Carol tonight, who makes the best ever blackberry and apple crumble and has 2 handsome pussy cats, her “boys”. Her parish had no vicar for a year, and they were very happy to get one last spring.”

Be sure to check back soon for Julia’s next instalment of her extraordinary journey.

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