If you are a lover of the overlooked this may well be a walk for you. It’s got its own charm and will take you through areas of unconventional beauty. The starting point is Erith railway station from here you pick up the Thames path walking westerly towards central London. To your back will be the Queen Elizabeth Bridge.
This part of the river is still used to recycle and remove the detrius of 8 million people living in London. Over on the north bank slow moving bulldozers are pushing around decomposing waste to form a new hill on the landscape. Further upstream are, not the most romantically named, Crossness Sludge Powered Generator and the Riverside Recovery Facility. The industrial architecture of both provide a vision of new industry in a low carbon world. However, what is most compelling in this environment is the new connection between the industrial and the rural.
It was low tide, inviting waders on to the mud flats. A peregrine falcon sweeping down on its prey on the foreshore. Seagulls were perched along an old industrial wire like a string of pearls and in the background were the concrete barges from World War ll. There is even a pair of swans. Just past the Riverside Resource Plant is a left turn into the Erith Marshes. There is a country lane running alongside a small ditch with views of Abbey Wood straight ahead. You could be mistaken that you are in a rural idyll. Hides and viewing platforms have been constructed using recovered materials. They form an effective bridge between the past and the present. It is the remnant of grazing marshlands that were once the typical topography of the Thames Estuary.
The area is extensive and is now an important habitat for the rare water vole and peregrine falcon. In autumn there is an abundance of dragonflies that hover around your ankles. In the open areas the familiar outline of Canary Wharf looms in the background but this is not a cityscape: it is a pastoral scene of horses grazing on the marshland. The path is well signposted and will take you to Abbey Wood train station.