Spoke 5: Rainham to Tower

Oyster Spoke 5 of 8, Routes into London for hybrid bikes using Oyster stations.

  • Total Distance: 30.2km
  • Total Ascent: 12m
  • Highest Point: 9m
  • Lowest Point: 0m

Waterside London

The Thames Gateway region is an investment and development focus that covers both sides of the Estuary. On the north bank, the area it covers is low-lying, marshy and full of waterways, both man-made and natural. In earlier days, this was an area built on trade – the ports handling both imports and exports and also the transport of agricultural goods upriver to London. Today vast swathes of the land are industrial together with the dormitory towns that serve them, generally less prosperous than other sides of London.

As a result, finding cycling routes that are both interesting and safe is a challenge, with transport corridors at a premium and finding traffic-free excursions is difficult.

This route connects together urban parks developed from wasteland such as the Beam Valley, the regenerated waterways to the Queen Elizabeth Park, to the new housing erected of the old dockland footprint of London. It also passes Bazalgette’s Victorian Abbey Mills pumping station and the new Thames Tideway sewer construction sites being built to augment it.

Spoke 5 Poster Map

Starting on NCN13, then following LCN58 before cutting over to Bretons Park and the Beam Valley. NCN 13 is joined again to cross the Eurotunnel railway and Barking Creek before the Q22 Greenway to The Olympic Park. Here the Lee Navigation and Limehouse Cut are followed before NCN13 heads to Tower.

The Route leaves Rainham station and picks up NCN13 through the village centre before turning west on pavement cycleways towards London on the outskirts of the town. London Cycle Network 58, soon heads off north to Romford, and this is followed through backstreets and on a couple of major roads. On reaching Simpson Road, the route turns west and on crossing another main road heads into Bretons Park, past the sports pitches and to a bridge over the River Beam.

Sculpture in the Beam Valley Country Park

Turning south here, cycleways down the Beam Valley are followed before coming out onto Oval Road. A few minor roads later, NCN13 is reached again, initially on local roads but soon cutting down to cycle alongside the A13. Whilst always on pavement cycleways, care has to be taken as there are many turnings across the cycleway that are approached at speed by cars.

The cycleway crosses the main Eurotunnel railway line and then joins Cycle Superhighway 3 to cross Barking Creek, after which NCN13 heads south towards Beckton. After a short while, the Greenway is reached, an old railway line with cycle Quietway 22 following it to Stratford. A new Bridge continues the Greenway over the River into the Queen Elizabeth Park, with views of the Olympic Stadium and ArcellorMittal Orbit to the right. A short diversion under the railway is required to reach the Greenway again, with the Viewtube cafe just behind.

Finally the Lee Navigation is reached and the route drops down onto the towpath, which is followed to Three Mills, crossing the canal a couple of times. At Bow Locks, a pedestrian bridge crosses over to pick up the Limehouse Cut which heads straight for Limehouse Basin and the Thames. Here NCN13 is joined for the last time, as it is followed through Wapping, past Shadwell Basin and along the Ornamental Canal before reaching Tower Bridge.

Spoke 5 Viewranger route

In addition, there are other descriptions of the route, namely a route-card with turn-by-turn routing and a information leaflet with maps and points of interest:

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