London Walk: If you love industrial landscapes then you must do the Erith to Woolwich Arsenal Thames Path Walk. This is part of the Thames Path South East Extension which takes you past incinerators and sewage works. I know, it doesn’t sound very appealing but it really is. You’ll also pass by Crossness Nature Reserve and the Victorian Crossness Pumping Station. With the Thames by your side and the mud flats exposed, it’s beautiful in its own way. Join me on the Erith to Woolwich Arsenal Thames Path Walk and you’ll see what I mean.
Erith to Woolwich Arsenal Thames Path Walk Start
We started our journey by travelling to Belvedere train station (Southeastern train line) from Cannon Street. Belvedere is a town in the London Borough of Bexley. There aren’t too many cafes here so you might be better off eating a meal before your journey. Please note that you will be walking along the Thames Path and we didn’t come across any eateries on route. You should pick up some snacks from the Belvedere Asda which is located at Station Road, Belvedere DA17 6DF. Alternatively, you can start your journey from Erith train station and follow signs to the Thames Path. If you take this option then you can see the Erith Pier.
Our Thames Path Walking Root
Exit Belvedere station and turn down Station Road to Lower Road and head in the direction of Saint John the Baptist Church. You need cross over the A2016 which isn’t particularly pleasant. When you get to the church (Saint John the Baptist) at West Street, Erith DA81AE, stop to admire it. This church was founded in the 12th Century as the ancient Parish Church of Erith and is a listed building.
Saint John the Baptist Church Erith
You then head up Corinthian Manorway and you will see the Thames River ahead. Start walking along the Thames Path in the direction of Woolwich Arsenal. You just stay on the path until you reach Woolwich Arsenal so all you must do is admire the view.
Erith to Woolwich Arsenal Thames Path Walk Highlights
I absolutely loved this walk because it was so industrial. It isn’t everyone’s cup of tea but if you like taking photographs you’ll be snapping away. It was quite a secluded walk with just a few cyclists whizzing by and a few people walking. However, this we did the walk during the week so at the weekend it is likely to be much busier.
Anyway, I digress, back to the what you will see on this walk. You get a great view of the Thames and the industrial businesses located on the banks. Think conveyor belts loading cargo, decaying wooden jettys, rusting iron structures, war bunkers and wind turbines. This is set against the backdrop of the Thames with exposed mud flats and reed beds which are feeding grounds for birds.
Points of interest include Crossness Nature Reserve which is a 25.5 hectare in the Borough of Bexley which is part of the Erith Marshes Site of Metropolitan Importance for Nature Conservation. This is located next to the Thames Water Crossness Sewage Works. You can take a little wander on the marshes if you wanted and then get back on the walk.
Crossness Nature Reserve
You will walk past the Crossness Pumping Station. This was built by Sir Joseph Bazalgette for Victorian London’s main sewage system. The Beam Engine House is a Grade 1 Listed Industrial Building which is quite spectacular with ornate iron cast ironwork. The Pumping Station is open for tours on specific days. To find out more visit the Crossness Website.
Crossness Pumping Station
When you see an area with houses, this is Thamesmead which has been built on former marshland. If you’re hungry you can take a detour at this point and visit the Morrisons which is on a shopping estate. Here you will find a café and toilets. There is also a McDonalds and KFC.
Towards the end of the walk you start to get a glimpse of the city of London. On a clear day, you can pick out iconic architecture including Canary Wharf, the Shard and the 02 Arena.
Approaching Woolwich Arsenal Area and Thames Mud Flats
As you approach Woolwich Arsenal the walkway becomes wider and you will see new apartment blocks overlooking the Thames. Woolwich Arsenal was a former British Army and Royal Navy ordnance depot which closed in 1994. The area is now undergoing major building construction with the building of new homes. When you see the ‘Assembly’ standing steel sculptures of statues grouped together by Peter Burke, you have reached the end of this walk.
Sculptures by Peter Burke
Erith to Woolwich Arsenal Thames Path Walk End
At the end of this walk you might want a bite to eat from The Cornerstone Café located at 9 Major Draper Street, Royal Arsenal SE18 6GD. To head home you can get the DLR or a train (Southeastern) from Woolwich Arsenal station. Or you can get the Thames Clipper instead which is a river bus service. On this walk I did approximately 27,000 steps which was about 11 miles, this included a detour to the Thamesmead Morrisons for food. I absolutely loved the walk because it showed me a different view of the Thames and I’m a big fan of industrial landscapes. I hope you enjoy this walk as much as I did!
Author: Homegirl London. Photographs: Homegirl London. Thanks: Rich for plotting the route.