• Ride 1. Peckham to Kings Cross (Canopy Market/Granary Square)
  • Ride 2. Dickens in Southwark

Peckham to Kings Cross (Canopy Market/Granary Square)

Report from Ride Leader Amanda.

As it was so busy around Kings Cross last May, I thought it better to try a cooler month for this ride.  This worked very well this time, perhaps also because there was a train strike on, so our route was particularly quiet.  Our undercover comfort break (in Canopy Market) also works for this time of year and weather.

It rained heavily early on the 18th and was still raining as riders gathered at Peckham Square for this ride. 8 of us took off down the canal path and made our way to and over Blackfriars Bridge via Glengall St and C10.  Straight up to Farringdon then a quiet Cycleway 6 through Mount Pleasant to St Pancas. Road along with St Pancras station on our right, then turned right at the end of it under the railway lines and up Goods Way to Granary Square  We arrived approximately 20 minutes earlier than anticipated as we really stopped at a red light and stayed together as a tight bunch when we did. The rain did not interfere with much of the outward journey. It seemed like the buildings surrounding us took the brunt of it. And it had pretty much stopped by the time we reached Kings Cross.

Our coffee stop was as mentioned undercover – Canopy Market.  The development of retail and eateries has expanded phenomenally over the past few years, there was too much to see, eat and drink in a short ½ hour break.  The tiered steps outside were freshly laid with turf ready for the spring and summer crowds.

Crossing Granary Square, we did a customary circuit of the mirrored walled gasometer then headed back over the square to pick up the canal towpath on the other side.  This avoids going through the lock and barriers on the towpath which is a bit cumbersome with walkers and riders. We headed to Pentonville for our route home. Picking up a very short stretch the canal path at Angel to Shepherdess Walk. Nice downward route crossing City Road (and The Eagle,), passing Bunhill Cemetery, Barbican and the surviving section of the ancient London Wall.  At Guildhall, we turned to cross Southwark Bridge and went through the old Walworth Estate for our return to Peckham.

All back safe and sound about 20 mins early.  Thank you to Jean for back-marking and taking pictures.

Dickens in Southwark

Just 7 riders on a wet morning in Peckham. First stop the Marshalsea where Dickens family were imprisoned in the 1824 to ca 1840. The prison closed in 1842 and was demolished over the next 15 years. A large wall remains. In his novel Little Dorrit, published in 1855-7, Dickens writes about a family incarcerated in the Marshalsea.  Next to the old wall is the church of St George the Martyr where Little Dorrit is christened and married. We left the Marshalsea site along Angel Place, probably the Angel Court mentioned in Little Dorrit. Across Borough High St and along Little Dorrit Court and past Little Dorrit Park. Maybe the local council is overdoing things a bit here. Across the road (Marshalsea Rd) to Weller St and a brief stop next to Charles Dickens School. Not sadly where Dickens himself was educated. On via Sawyer St and Copperfield St to Union St. At the junction with Blackfriars Rd stopped to admire the replica of the Dog and Pot shop sign mentioned in Dickens autobiography.

Following all this Dickens a brief diversion back 200 years to pass the Globe and Rose Theatres and the Ferryman’s Seat in Bear Gardens. From Bear Gardens we moved on to Guy’s hospital and a set of locations mentioned in the Pickwick Papers. These were the hospital itself where Bob Swayer trained, White Hart Yard where Mr Pickwick first met Sam Weller, and the George Pub.

Next we headed to Oliver Twist territory. In the climax of this novel, Bill Sikes is on the run and hiding out on Jacobs Island, described by Dickens as “the filthiest, the strangest, the most extraordinary of the many localities that are hidden in London”. WE stopped at the end of Butlers Wharf to look across at Jacobs Island (in fact looking at New Concordia Wharf on what is no longer an island). We tried to imagine this area as it must have looked in the mid 19th century. Given the rather tidy state of the buildings on St Saviours Dock (Folly Ditch in Oliver Twist) it was hard really see it as it must have been almost 200 years ago. To visualise Bill Sikes on the parapet and falling to his death (followed by his faithful dog).  

Pushed bikes across the narrow modern bridge to Mill St ( also gets a mention in Oliver Twist) and then past the Dickens Estate where all the blocks are named after Dickens characters. That was it for Dickens for the morning. Headed back to Peckham arriving just after 12 in bright sunshine.

A list of some quotes from Dickens relevant to the sites visited are attached below.  This ride leans heavily on one devised by Charlie Holland, see https://www.cycleconfident.com/media/public/downloads/Southwark_Shakespeare_and_Dickens_Cycle_Route.pdf where there is a lot of interesting information.

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