Day 333: Barking to Tower Bridge
Distance: 15.02 miles
Ascent: 872 feet
Weather: Sunny Spells
Well today was going to be a strange one being the last day of the walk. It was quite a short day about 15 miles and due to the little end event starting around 4 we didn’t need to leave till about 10:30. So my brother and I grabbed some breakfast in Barking and then slowly got on our way.
The first part of the day took us back towards the Thames, firstly crossing over Barking Creek before following a cycle route and roads down into the Docklands and back to the Thames just shy of the Woolwich Ferry. It was good to be back on the Thames but pretty soon we had to divert slightly inland behind the industrial buildings including the Tates & Lyle factories. We were able to drop back to the Thames briefly again at the Thames Flood Barrier. As I said at the beginning of the walk, this is both an engineering marvel in the way it does its job but also an architecturally striking structure.
We left this part of the docks using the A1020 bridge to get over the River Lea and now I was in areas I have cycled to before and I decided it would be fun for us to have lunch in Trinity Buoy Wharf, which has changed quite a bit since I last went a few years ago but still has a very artsy, quirky feel and some very intriguing buildings and sculptures even if it feels like it might be soon engulfed by nearby developments. We ate in an American style chrome diner van which had actually been shipped over from the USA in a derelict state several decades over.
From here we joined the Thames Path around the Isle of Dogs and were now right on the edge of the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf. There can not be many places in the world which show of such wealth in quite such a striking way and personally though I know it pretty much keeps Britain financially going nowadays I find the idea of Canary Wharf a bit vulgar.
The path was a bit annoying around Isle of Dogs because it was blocked in a few places and darted in and out from the Thames a few times. But the Thames was looking beautiful especially when we were passing the stunning facade of the Royal Naval College alongside the masts of the Cutty Sark on the other side.
After passing now the west side of Canary Wharf the river actually turns and starts heading west and towards Tower Bridge. Claude and I had made good time and were about 15 minutes earlier than expected so we decided to stop briefly at The Grapes pub which my brother was keen to see as it is part owned by Gandalf (well Sir Ian McKellen).
After this we bumped into my Dad, Trevor & Amanda and then walked the short distance to the Prospect of Whitby where some friends, people I had met on walk and MHF workers had kindly come to walk the final mile and a half. I knew this final bit would all be a bit of a shock and quite overwhelming but we set off along the Thames Path and about 500m short of Tower Bridge we suddenly caught our first proper view of Tower Bridge lit up as it had just got dark. It was a great sight.
Once we reached Tower Bridge we just had to cross to the other side as I had started on the South side of the Bridge. This last bit felt quite strange and on crossing to the other side there were some other people who had kindly come to see me in. We descended down the steps to exactly where I had started and then had a group photo.
I will finish my last diary there as I am completely unable to put the emotions of the moment into words. Thank you so much for following over the last year.