In search of the Woolwich Tumps
Date: Mon 25 August 2014
Just two of the more mature members of Greenwich Cyclists braved the weather forecasts and set off on a damp Bank Holiday morning to locate these ‘tumps’ in Woolwich. Like a well-trained pair of special forces soldiers they adjusted their battle plan at the Arsenal, struck out first for the High Tor of Thamesmead (which is now devilishly disguised as Gallions Hill) so as to conduct an aerial survey of tumpland. Both our boys were met at the summit by a local group practising a religious ceremony. The locals were very friendly even in the growing rain and did not detect our undercover purpose. The duo spotted the “Twin Tumps” near to the end of the Harrow Canal by Morrisons. The more camouflaged Tump 53 however avoided our eagle-eyed survey.
The rain becoming ever more tropical, it was decided to infiltrate a local eatery, Cornerstone Café, in an attempt to gather more intelligence from the locals there. This wholly failed. Not even an ex-local elder had heard of these borderland WMD facilities, the Woolwich Tumps. The intrepid lads dried off during the monsoonal part of the morning’s rain and decided to return to base to report on their (limited) findings. The ride leader was brilliantly backmarked on the whole expedition by an expert undercover agent, Dr Senior.
I promise another search for the Tumps, hopefully when the weather is more clement, especially Tump 53 which has been remodelled into a nature reserve. I’d also like any information about their recent history, especially that of the Twin Tumps.
The reconnaissance appeared to show that the Twin Tumps had once had an entrance off Waterside Close. If so, why has the whole area now been fenced off? Is it because of the proposed (and hopefully never-to-be-built) Gallions Reach bridge? Is it perhaps to deter defensive occupation of this reserved space by the public to prevent its desecration? There are so many spaces within the Borough that truly belong to the public but are threatened; it’s surprising that direct action by occupation has not yet been used in their defence.
Report by: Ian Blore
Greenwich Green Spaces
Date: Saturday 26 July 2014
Six of us set off from Cutty Sark (later joined by a seventh in Greenwich Park) on a beautiful summer morning, very warm and bright but with a slight moderating breeze. We started off via Greenwich Park, exiting by the Vanbrugh Gate and heading along St Johns Park.
Then we went down through the underpass beneath the Sun in the Sands roundabout and south along the old Rochester Way, to the quiet shaded paths that run alongside the A2 at Kidbrooke. Shortly afterwards we stopped at Well Hall Pleasaunce to take in the blaze of colour from the flowers and see the Tudor Barn with its moat. From there we continued up the hill towards Eltham Park South where the council has recently resurfaced the path and installed prominent signs saying ‘Pedestrian priority. Considerate cycling permitted’.
Then we doubled back along the Rochester Way near Falconwood – here again a recently-resurfaced path – and veered off into the ancient Jack Wood, passing Oxleas Meadows on our right. In the middle of the woods, as in Hansel and Gretel, we came across a charming terrace and ornamental garden which are all that remain of the former mansion Jackwood House, demolished in the early 20th century. Then we stopped for brunch at the hilltop Oxleas Cafe which affords far-reaching views south towards Kent.
Next we crossed Shooters Hill and descended the precipitous Eglinton Hill, seeing amazing views of London and the river to our left and in front. Next stop was Plumstead Common and the Slade Pond, a remote haven for wildlife at the foot of a deep ravine, which has been restored by a local community group over recent years. Then we continued north through some residential streets and west for a short stretch along Plumstead High Street (this was truly the only part of the ride where there was any significant amount of traffic).
At Plumstead station we crossed the main road and cycled down the descending spiral path near the bus garage, emerging near the Royal Arsenal development. Every time I go this way a new block of flats seems to have sprung up, but none that spoils the overall picture or scale as yet (this may change when the riverside skyscrapers start to emerge). Then past Firepower Cafe and the wooden mannequin statues which I often mistake for real people and slam on the brakes. Then down the newly-installed ramp and past the Woolwich Ferry (where we stopped for an ice cream) and along the river for a while. Next we diverted inland via Frances Street to visit Maryon Park.
Finally we rejoined the river and headed back via East Greenwich, arriving back at our starting point (Cutty Sark) around 3pm. The glinting wavelets on the river made it feel like we were by the seaside. All seven riders stayed till the end including one who is currently having cycle training with Greenwich Cyclists. The distance – 18.5 miles in total.
All in all a memorable day with very enjoyable company – thanks to all who came along. It never ceases to amaze me how far, and in how many directions, it is possible to travel by bike in our local area and encounter next to no traffic and see wonderful views into the bargain. Moreover the (sub)urban environment offers a variety and frequent change of scene which you do not always get in the countryside proper. The Oxleas Cafe is an excellent brunch stop for a ride – it has cycle parking plus railings, a good range of food, and even on such a sunny day it was not overwhelmingly busy.
Report by: Gareth Scarlett