Navigation 101 – Crossing the Thames

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Thursday, June 8, 2017 Chatham-Grays

Between Dover and London there are only a few places that traffic of any kind can cross the Thames River.  Our original plan to cross the Thames and head north by taking the foot/bicycle ferry from Gravesend to Tilbury.  Yesterday we found out that the safety authority had closed down this  ferry because of repairs needed at the pier.  The National Cycle Route #1 is very well marked in this area and easy to follow, so after riding about 30 miles, we arrived further up stream toward London at Dartford Crossing.  At this second opportunity to cross the Thames there is both a bridge and a tunnel; however, bikes are not allowed on/in either.  Instead there is a free van shuttle for bikes  provided by the road authority.  We struggled finding the access point amid thousands of trucks and cars but when we did get to the shuttle spot there was a giant yellow phone to call for our “on demand” ride.  We were treated to a first class ride with the bikes standing in the back of the van with panniers on.

Once across the river , it was difficult to find our B & B which was “in the country” due to two parallel roads with the same name connected by a road with a different  name and a bridge over the huge motorway. (Think of the squared off letter “C” with the vertical part connecting the two horizontal.)  When we did find it, another couple pulled up in a car ready to check in.  We struck up a conversation and ended up having dinner with them. When staying in the country on a bike it’s always good to befriend people with a car!

Friday June 9,, 2017     Grays to Chelmford

We woke to “fresh temps” (England for very chilly), but full sunshine.  That lasted until about 10:30 when while having our morning coffee, the heavens opened up.  We put our rain gear on and pedaled onward.  After only about 6 blocks; however, it was raining so hard that we hid under a tree then an under the street passage with others.  It absolutely poured for about half an hour before letting up. Once again we started down the route.  Before we’d gotten 1 mile, the sun came out and we dried off.22-IMG_196127-IMG_1966

Mid afternoon we heard the familiar sound of an old fashioned ice cream truck going around a neighborhood we were passing through.  We flagged him down and traded our afternoon coffee break for a cold treat.  11-IMG_1950We reached our hotel in the middle of Chelmford in time to check out the walking street and have an early dinner.

Saturday, June 10, 2015 Chelmsford-Colchester

Have we mentioned that navigation is sometimes a problem?!  Well, we’d like to say that we enjoyed Chelmsford so much that we kept coming back to it, but what actually happened was a couple of wrong turns and misinterpretation of signage that resulted in riding 15+ miles in two separate loops and finding ourselves about a mile from where we started the days ride 3 ½ hrs earlier.

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Once we found the correct correct route.45-IMG_1984 On the bright side it was a beautiful, sunny day and when we finally found our way at about 2 p.m. we had a tail wind. On the way(s) we passed through some beautiful countryside05-IMG_1943 and were treated to many very pretty and old homes,some with thatched roofs 15-IMG_195416-IMG_195518-IMG_195714-IMG_195309-IMG_194807-IMG_1945as well as quaint villages. with old churches. Despite the initial frustration of finding ourselves confused and befuddled, we had a really good time.  Despite the opportunity, we were not livid/upset at ourselves or each other.21-IMG_1960

Our hotel in Colchester is a great find. The George 31-IMG_1970

40-IMG_1979was originally built in 1450, but artifacts have been discovered on site going back to about 60 A.D. consistent with the Roman occupation of this area and the historic burning of the structure that stood here. At every corner of our accommodation (and there are many) there are unique discoveries of the past. The inner part of a wall ascending near one of the staircases is exposed and shows30-IMG_1969 the original wattle and daub dating to the 14th century and exposed beams and supports.

The old City of Colchester is ripe with old and very attractive buildings. The city hall is relatively new at a little over 100 years old.34-IMG_1973

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The castle which has the largest keep in England and is surrounded by a park which includes the remains of a Roman fortress dating to the early first century.

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