A way-marked trail through marshland and woods, along old village lanes, and upon the banks of three contrasting rivers.
Officially this is a 10-mile (16km) trail, however, with connections to train stations, loops and shortcuts (and add-ons) it can be either quite a lot longer or shorter. The route we have described begins at Erith Station and allows you to return to it via Bexley Station quite easily (it’s cheap too, being all in Zone 6). You could also do this trail backwards (from Bexley to Erith).
The following route is 11.3mi long and is largely flat, although there is a climb between Hall Place and just before North Cray Road (climbing about 40m over 2mi).
Start: Erith Station. From here, make your way to the start of the trail through Erith town centre. There are signposts every now and again to point the way, but here are some quick instructions:
2.4mi: Darent River. Here you leave the Thames for the much smaller Darent River, passing by the impressive Darent Flood Barrier. Running on an exposed stop bank makes the views potentially good but in strong winds can be a bit unpleasant.
3.3mi: Slade Green Intersection. Here is a split in the trails, with an option back to Erith to the right (or to Slade Green Station). Carrying on straight ahead you now get a lot more shelter thanks to a farm hedge. Shortly, the trail leaves the Darent River for the Cray River.
4.8mi: Thames Road Roundabout. The trail leaves the river in order to make its way through an industrial area and to cross the busy roundabout on Thames Road. The signs lead you on a full loop of the roundabout before joining back up with the river a little along Thames Road.
4.9mi: River Cray. This section is really nice with many trees surrounding the river. After a small section on suburban streets (Maiden Ln then Barnes Cray Rd) you go back to the tree-lined river and reach Crayford town centre.
5.9mi: Crayford. In the Waterside Gardens are public toilets (charge 10p) and the trail passes directly through the gardens and then along London Road (directly opposite). Then turn a left onto Bourne Road and another left into the large grass sports field. Run along the far tree line (following the river) until you reach the junction in the trails at Hall Place.
6.9mi: Hall Place. At the large grounds of Hall Place Mansion the Cray Riverway splits in two. The “A” route goes south and is largely traffic free (and slightly longer), while the “B” route goes through Old Bexley township. We’ll follow route “A” but will come back along a portion of route B to the Bexley Station. So head left across the river, following the edge of Hall Place Gardens to the rail line and the A2. Go over the tracks and under the A2 and run through the edge of Churchfield Wood. (There are toilets within Hall Place Mansion if needed.)
8.1mi: St Mary’s Church Cemetery. After turning right you’ll pass a cemetery on your right, this is the signal that St Mary’s Church is coming and you need to turn left. At the time of writing there was no way-marker here, but there is an obvious intersection of trails, so instead of going straight, turn left to reach Vicarage Road.
8.25mi: Vicarage Road. Follow the small country lane opposite. With views of Joyden’s Wood to your left, follow the trail right as it runs down to North Cray Road.
9.2mi: North Cray Road. This is a potentially confusing part of the Cray Riverway. The signage points you north back up to the roundabout (700m) and back again on the other side of the road in order to cross this busy dual carriageway.
10mi: Water Lane. Turn right here, off North Cray Road. Once reunited with the River Cray, you’re also reunited with the “B” route. From here, if you want to carry onto Foots Cray Meadows, turn left and follow the east bank of the river (this option is 11.5mi long, but bear in mind that you’ll need to get home from Cray Meadows ... somehow!). Otherwise, to catch the train from Bexley, cross the river to follow route “B”.
10.4mi: Riverside Road. After following the path from the river, turn left onto Riverside Road. Then run straight up through the farm fields (still following the way-markers).
11mi: Bexley Cricket Club. Keep following the path on past the cricket grounds (keeping to the right of the train tracks). After a few hundred metres the path heads under the tracks and comes out on to Bexley High Street.
11.3mi: Bexley Train Station. On High Street turn left and then a quick left again into Station Approach. The station is just up the hill (there are toilets on the platform). So ends your 11.3mi (18.2km) run. Trains typically run every half hour and be sure to catch the correct train to Erith (not Dartford).
Distance: 11.3mi (18.2km) end to end
Terrain: Flat (with an undulating section of small hills)
Surface: gravel, sealed, grass, dirt
Weather Warnings: Crayford Marsh is particularly exposed to wind.
Traffic Warnings: Take care at intersections and road crossings.
Times: Open at all times, although many lonely sections should be avoided after dark.
Toilets: Erith town centre, Crayford’s Waterside Gardens, and Bexley Station.
Start: Erith, Borough of Bexley (DA8) (14.7mi east of central London)
Finish: Old Bexley, Borough of Bexley (DA5) (13.9mi southeast of central London)
Rail: Erith National Rail Station (Southeastern Line)
Bus (to Erith): 99, 229, 428, 469, & B12.
Car: Ample parking available in Erith.
Thumbs Up: Plenty of variety in scenery and well marked.
Thumbs Down: Some sections are exposed and lonely (best to run with others).
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