For dinner last night my dear friend Maria came and joined us for a picnic. It’s not often I’m in her neck of the woods and it was nice to chat and be distracted from our challenge for an hour. Afterwards we had just a short 2 mile scoot and 15 minutes of searching before we stumbled across the perfect field to pitch for the night.
It took a while to get off to sleep thanks to mosquitos that kept buzzing around our faces last night. I’m not talking about your average size mosquitos, these were massive and tickled like crazy when they landed on you. Their distinctive buzz make them impossible to ignore. Gil had wanted to bring insect repellant but I thought we wouldn’t need it – kicking myself now!
We woke up this morning to a flock of noisy geese flying over our heads and a gorgeous sunrise. I was tired and could do with another 4 hours sleep but it was 6am and in the distance I could see early riser dog walkers so it was time to pack up (or rather for Gil to pack up – I’m really not a morning person!).
As a result of our disturbed sleep we were both very tired. After chewing on a stale croissant for breakfast, we headed off slowly for 8miles towards Upminster and the Windmill who fed us a complimentary lunch and with smiles – both very much appreciated as we were seriously feeling the strain already.
We’ve had to make a difficult decision with our route today. The London Loop takes us to Burfleet, the official finish point on the south side of the Thames and then on to Dartford, the official start point on the north side of the Thames. The only way to get to these 2 points is via the 1-way toll Dartford crossing. It’s basically impossible to cross on foot/bike and also from north to south. Supposedly there is a phone near the crossing that links to a pick up/drop off service, but there is no information online and we don’t know if the phone even exists anymore. We’ve contacted numerous taxi companies to see if they will take us, and our scooters, but have had no luck.
We couldn’t risk going all the way there and there being no phone or drop off service as the next crossing is miles away, so we’ve changed our route slightly and from Upminster will head towards Woolwich crossing and then on too Petts woods where we will pick up the London loop again. The miles are basically the same (30 miles) but we will miss out on the Dartford/Bexley section which I am disappointed about as this is an area of London not often explored. On the positive side though, our new route takes us through well paved paths meaning our journey is much smoother (no stiles or getting lost!).
The afternoon started well and I felt like I was going really strong for the first 7 miles. The sun was shining and people were out and happy. We made plenty of stops at people’s houses and in restaurants to ask them to fill our bottles with water – everyone is always happy to help.
Then the sun started to grate, my body shut down and my spirits absolutely plummeted. Both Gil and I were really struggling. By this point we were in the area surrounding City Airport. It was very industrial and nice having a change of scenery but the paths just seemed to go on forever.
We got the free Woolwich ferry crossing and agreed to stop at the first place we saw on the other side. Typically though, we ended up in the middle of nowhere on a hot, noisy, busy road with no choice but to keep going for another hour. It was gruelling and I thought it was never going to end, until, suddenly, my savour came into sight….a McFlurry (and a semi attempt to freshen up in the McDonalds toilets)!!
As I sat in McDonalds enjoying resting my legs after 6 hours of solid scooting, I watched a few boys outside checking out our locked up scooters. I started imagining that maybe if they stole one we’d be able to go home (lol). I also watched a shy woman who was clearing up rubbish and giving everyone who passed her a massive smile. It was so nice and gave me a reminder of the importance of being grateful and cheerful, even if I just feel like moaning.
We hammered out the last 7 miles of the day with our heads down and with steely focus. We’ve just found a nice spot in a leafy park to camp and Gil is working out the most effective way to pitch the tarp…it looks like it’s going to be a wet night!
Myself and Gil are taking on the 240km London Loop on adult kick scooters to raise money for Africa’s Children in Education. Please support us by making a donation.