I finally made it to Ian Bull’s megawalk from Crystal Palace to Erith. no thanks to the 122 bus which, in theory runs all the way from Plumstead Station to Crystal Palace, but should have its timetable amended to read ‘now and then’. I ended up dashing to Woolwich to catch the 53 to New Cross Gate, dipping down onto the platform (the footbridge is twice normal height and at the far end of the platform) and rushing over to the other side, with three minutes to spare. Anyway, I got there and saw the friendly face of a couple of APs who had decided to embark on the slightly crackers/slightly illicit undertaking of walking along the Green Chain Walk from The Deep South to more familiar environs under cover of darkness.
The correct footwear is thick-soled trainers; not having any such thing, I had to make do with desert boots which are not recommended. After a few miles, the soles of my feet felt like they had been beaten repeatedly with planks of wood. ‘That’ll larn me’, as the saying goes. However it wasn’t all silent weeping about achy feet. Even though the weather had conspired as it always does in England whenever there is the promise of a glorious nocturnal display, glimpse of the Northern Lights or any once-in-a-lifetime meteorological event, to be overcast, as it has since May. So there were no beautifully clear night skies to be seen, nor a glorious sunrise.
There was however, the naughtiness of climbing over a fence, the very clear sound of owls repeatedly hooting which I have never heard before, the spacy, hypnotic experience of walking in file while the person in front bobbed up and down, emerging from my shadow, accompanied by the steady clomp of rhythmic marching, the susurration of multiple pairs of feet sweeping across damp grass and finding the best site for a sweeping vista of London. which is relatively unknown, and creeping about through the woods with torches.
By the time we reached Plumstead I had decided to bail out and head home. Not even the promise of better and better surroundings towards the river was enough to encourage me to continue to Erith and catch the bus back home. But there are always other times…