20.02.2020 Greenwich & Regents Canal
Well that’s it Walk One done and under the belt… Walking with company always makes the miles go by quicker, and I really do have to start this blog by thanking, Nicola, Claire & Clare for mapping out and joining me on this walk.
Its February, its cold, its wet, its breezy – a 20 mile walk is not high on your list of pleasure activities!
We set off from Greenwich around 10am after the standard pre walk faff. Organising back packs , discussing layers needed, organising said layers, emptying and repacking backpacks followed by a detailed discussion on which walking app to track and record our progress (ended up using two of them one on my wrist one on my phone) before the decisive ‘right, we are off’.
For the first two hours the weather was kind, overcast and a bit breezy , but all things considered it was , with hindsight, rather pleasant.
We headed through Greenwich Park to the Cutty Sark and the Greenwich foot tunnel so we could reach Limehouse basin and the start of the Regents Canal.
It was half term so Greenwich still fairly busy and heading under the river through the foot tunnel took us away from the busiest parts. We walked part of the Thames Path to get to Limehouse Basin and from there we joined the Regents Canal – the plan to walk its towpath until we had clocked up 10 miles and then turn back retracing our steps back to Greenwich to complete the 20 miles. Before you ask we did take the stairs in the foot tunnel both ways..
The section of the Regents canal we walked took us through Mile End, Bethnal Green outskirts of Hoxton & Shoreditch up to Islington. The water in the canal was very high from the recent storms and the tow path itself was incredibly busy with runners and cyclists all of us dodging each other for the limited space. We reached the Islington Tunnel after around 2.5 hours walking and the various apps were showing we had completed roughly 9 miles. At this point we would have to head away from the canal for a short time to cross roads before rejoining and it gave a natural decision point to turn and head back – not least because the rain started. When I say rain, I mean RAIN – that big incessant downpour – the horizontal kind. It was funny for a moment or two until we realised it wasn’t going to stop!
Quote of the day from Nicola in this video clip (link below)..
As we turned to retrace our steps the towpath now seemed to be part of the canal. The water was settling and after only a few miles we were wading rather than walking. Our giggles and chats started to dry up – the runners and cyclists less hospitable to the point that one cyclist just decided to cycle into my shoulder rather than go round me. To be fair at this point it wasn’t clear where towpath stopped and canal began..
Weather aside, its really lovely to walk this part of London. The canal is lined with narrow boats and smell of woodburning stoves was teasing us as we got wetter and colder. We decided to get heads down – get back to Limehouse basin and find somewhere to grab a coffee and dry off before the last leg back to Greenwich.
The wind was really picking up and crossing back onto the Thames Path over a little bridge, which on the way out was a lovely milestone, had us thinking we were going to be blown straight into the water with the strong gusts. By now the ground had dried but our trainers were sodden and we were effectively walking in our own portable puddles.
We found shelter in The Grapes pub. Claire asked – “do you do soup? ” “yes” came the reply fllowed by “but the kitchen closed 5 minutes ago”. We were down heartened, but a coffee , a quick dry off by the open fire and a glimpse of Gandalf’s staff (the pub is part owned by Sir Ian Mckellen) spurred us back to the Greenwich foot tunnel and the last push. It had even stopped raining too 🙂
So we emerged back at the Cutty Sark with the end in sight. However a quick check of the Apps revealed a hiccup. My watch app had reset itself so our mileage to date had reset, probably when peeling off layers to dry in the pub, and my phone App was showing only 16 miles. We were 2 miles from ‘home’ ..
So Plan B was hatched – my lovely walking buddies returned to put the kettle on, dry off the dogs (and themselves) whilst I set off to do as many loops of Greenwich park as needed to hit the 20 miles – if you ask it was roughly 1.5 loops (so had to do the hill twice..) and the rain came back with a vengeance just to add to the drama.
I knocked on Nicola’s door just before it was dark and think I pretty much demolished a loaf of bread as the most delicious peanut butter toast I can remember.
Walk one – done!
Walk two – coming VERY soon..