Spoke 6: Dartford to Tower

Note: that from Monday 16th March for about 4 months, the Thames Path and bridleway will be closed at Crossness. Details of the diversion can be found at Diversion Map.

Oyster Spoke 6 of 8, Routes into London for hybrid bikes using Oyster stations.

  • Total Distance: 38.1km
  • Total Ascent: 13m
  • Highest Point: 15m
  • Lowest Point: 0m

Maritime Past and Present

London’s history is centred on its maritime history, both Naval and trade, and this ride provides glimpses into that past and how its footprint on the landscape has been reclaimed for the present.

Despite being close to the Estuary and on a river, the ford over the Darent that gave Dartford its name is the only watery connection for the town, however the route soon broadens out onto the main Estuary where creeks provide anchorage for small boats and wharves allow for the loading and offloading of freight.

The need for transport across the river is demonstrated by the Woolwich ferry as well as the distant views of the Queen Elizabeth bridge, before Greenwich is reached with its Naval College and the meridian observatory on the hill. The final part of the route skirts what remains of London’s dockyards – in some cases repurposed for leisure and in others filled in for housing.

Spoke 6 Poster Map

Follows Route 1 From Dartford along the Thames shore to Greenwich, where the foot-tunnel crosses the River. At Millwall dock leaves Route 1 to head for the riverside path past Canary Wharf joining Route 13 to reach Tower Bridge.

Leaving the station, to the west, Route 1 is quickly joined which leads on through Dartford to reach the ringroad. At this point, it heads north, firstly towards an industrial estate and then onto a singletrack path which follows the Darent river till it meets the Thames Estuary. This track is gravelly, and overgrown in places in summer.

On reaching the Estuary, the path becomes wider, but still requires effort as it heads west towards Erith. On reaching the outskirts it heads back to roads, becoming a pavement cycleway before heading through the town centre and eventually rejoining the riverside path. The next part of the route is almost entirely traffic-free and hard-standing as the path follows the river round Thamesmead to Woolwich, often on top of the river wall, and occasionally just inland. The views of the Estuary are excellent – at low tide seabirds can be seen feeding on the mudflats and the Flood protections of the Essex coast can be clearly seen.

Thames Barrier

At Woolwich, the route heads through the old armories, now a housing estate, and passes the end of the Woolwich ferry and heads on towards the O2. The route is still largely traffic-free, although there are short sections of backroads, and is soon heading past the new housing estates of Greenwich and rounding the O2, eventually reaching Greenwich. Here it passes through the Royal Naval College, now frequently used as film sets, before reaching the Curry Sark which stands watch over the end of the Greenwich foot-tunnel.

Cycling is not permitted in the tunnel, although lifts at either end make for an easy passage and it surfaces on the north bank in Island Gardens. A short detour off route 1 takes it through Millwall Park before rejoining it on the side of Millwall Dock. It then crosses the Glengall bridge before leaving Route 1 to head back to the Thames Path. This is followed past Canary Wharf before finally reaching Route 13 near Limehouse Basin. This is followed past Shadwell Basin to St Katherine’s Dock and Tower Bridge.

Spoke 6 Viewranger Route

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

Spoke 6 Video Guide
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