Yesterday, as I was coming back to Crystal Palace from London, I saw a sign that said 4 1/2 miles to Greenwich. I had wanted to go to Greenwich, but I didn't want to ride another 9 miles to get there and back. I thought, oh well, I'll put that on the "next time" list.
Last night I Google mapped the route to Harlow. I figured I'd probably go further as it was just 33 miles. In fact, I planned to go ahead and go to Chelmsford for around 58 miles total. I was somewhat surprised that I wasn't going to be going on Route 23 back into London to NCR 4. I didn't really look too closely at which cities I would be going through (my mistake). When Google gives turn-by-turn directions, it doesn't mention the towns (sometimes you can tell by the street names, but not always).
I took off this morning after talking with the couple from Holland that were camped next to me. Really nice family. I followed the Google route with some difficulty as it was hard to find the street names on the roads. Heaven forbid they should tell you what street you are on, and there is no logic as to where they place the street signs for the cross streets (if there is a sign). I had to backtrack a couple of times, using the Garmin to get me to where I should have turned.
I finally picked up NCR 21. I was on it before the Google directions said I would, but I knew I would eventually need to. Guess where it took me. Greenwich! Surprise surprise! I thought in my head that I must have absolutely no sense of direction, because I would swear Greenwich was in the opposite direction from Harlow. But, I was also pleased, because I got to go to Greenwich afterall!
At the Cutty Sark,
I asked two cyclists where the Prime Meridian was? They told me how to get there (up on the top of the hill in Greenwich Park). On the way, in front of the Maritime Museum, I saw the largest ship-in-a-bottle I've ever seen.
I climbed to the top of the hill and found the Observatory and the Prime Meridian (curiously, I crossed it going up the hill--something I didn't know until coming back down...and crossing it again). I parked Betsy, and went to have a look. Here's some photos.
The ball drops at 1:00 (noon, standard time) daily (it must go up first, because it wasn't 1:00).
The 24 hour clock.
The part accessible only if you buy a ticket.
Also only by paying (I took the photos through the fence).
The place where you don't have to pay to straddle the Prime Meridian.
A Prime Meridian selfie.
As I was admiring the view from the top of the hill, I realized I was looking at London.
I returned to the Cutty Sark. From there I got to go through a tunnel under the Thames. There was a lift to go down (pedestrians use stairs), then I walked the .2 miles to the other side.
Above ground entrance.
The tunnel under the Thames.
I continued following NCR 1 signs. I was on the towpath of Regents Canal to Victoria Park where I switched to the Lea Canal which went to the Lea River.
Fountain in Victoria Park.
The route was typical NCR stuff. Towpaths, trails, bumpy pavement...you name it. Here was a very low tunnel under the railway.
Had to duck through this one.
And here was some stairs!
Okay, so they weren't horrible, except right as Betsy's rear wheel would need to come up, the front wheel would also have to go up the next stair.
I finally saw a sign for Harlow. Since the route is not signed between Hoddesdon and Harlow, I thought I'd just follow the road (it was a "B" road, so not so busy). When I got to Waltham Abbey, I looked up camping. Nothing doable was coming up by Harlow. There was one in Lea Valley Country Park. I saw the sign from the road, and decided I would call it a day there, even though I didn't get to Harlow. I followed the camping sign. It took me to Lea Valley Park Farms--not a camping place, more of a farm amusement park. I asked the lady where the camping was. Turns out it was in the Country Park, but up the river at Dobbs Weir. Curiously, I was back on NCR 1 (although I think I took the shorter way). The route went close to the Caravan Park, so I just followed it there.
Dobbs Weir (not sure what, exactly, a "weir" is--something to do with the river, I'm guessing) is a great place. The wardens are really nice. I've got a nice spot with ripe blackberries behind my tent (I know what's going in my breakfast tomorrow!). When I went into the reception to get something to supplement my pasta, the guy just gave me the can of tuna I was going to buy. Very nice!
So, although today was strange, it was a good day. I'm not even going to say where I'm going tomorrow. I'll just have to see where the Tour Bus Driver takes me!