The Last Day – Greenwich to Dungeness; 7th July 2023

The last day!  One hundred thirty-five kilometres and 740 metres of climbing will lead me to the lighthouse on the shingle of Dungeness.

If you look at the route below, you’ll see the line could have been straighter, but as I’d not seen a Ness since York, I was duty-bound to head along the banks of the Thames to Abbey Wood and visit the Crossness Sewage Pumping Station; sadly closed to visitors today, the flypast was enough.  The Thames-side route is interesting, but inevitably, there are a lot of direction changes and so progress was slower than normal for a flat well-surfaced route!

Eventually though, at Erith, it was time to leave the river behind and head to Dartford and turn inland and a straighter route to Dungeness.  The first part of this ride was also hilly, nothing serious but hills that needed taking steadily, partly because the road surfaces were pretty poor.  Probably the worst I’d encountered part from a few sections of the old A9 in  Scotland as it paralleled the new A9 dual-carriageway.

At East Peckham, I’d arranged to meet Sue, who’d found a fabulous café on the edge of a trading estate but was delightful.  A coffee, yoghurt-topped flapjack and a rest later, I was back on the road with 70-odd kilometres to go to Dungeness.  The route became gentler post-café and sped up.  Arriving in Steplehurst, BBC Radio Kent called for a pre-record, and then it was on through Tenterden and down onto the marshes and on to Lydd.  This last section became harder, party because the brain knew I was near the end, but also the wind was in my face, in the exposed, mainly treeless, environment.  It was dead flat, too, so there was no coasting downhill.  Once through Lydd, the Dungeness lighthouses and nuclear power station loomed into view.  The final stretch to Sea comprised wind and a road with little hollows every two metres or so, which became repetitive and tiring the longer I cycled over it.  Turning right as I hit Lydd on Sea, it was a short ride along the coastline, and finally turning slightly with the wind on my back, it was a short, smooth “sprint” to the finish at the Old Dungeness lighthouse.  Sue, David and Emma from the East Kent MND group, Clair from Margate and half a dozen others who’d heard about the ride and had come to cheer me in.  A great welcome and that was 926 miles and 11964m of ascent over 13 days of riding complete.

I could not have done it without Sue’s help and support, nor the dozens of folk we’d met along the way, who had offered the support, and sponsorship.  What a trip, what a ride!

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