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Tubewalker: The Tube, on Foot

Contact Me: Rainham Landfill

Author Message
Peter Wynn

Subject: Rainham Landfill
Posted: 24 Sep 2004 2:34 am


Dear Mark,

I am the Project Manager of Cleanaway's Rainham Landfill and I was extremely disappointed by your comments on the walk to Coldharbour Point. Just because a place isn't pristine wilderness doesn't mean that it isnt full of interest. The landfill is home to populations of brown hare, english partridge, skylark, lizards, snakes, and yes, the odd seagull or two. Cleanaway spend a great deal of time and money trying to improve our local environment. None of us should forget that waste management is an essential element of life in the twenty-first century. If you don't like it, change it!

Yours sincerely

Peter Wynn

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Mark Moxon

Subject: My comments
Posted: 1 Oct 2004 1:22 pm


Hi Peter.

Many thanks for your messag. It's interesting, but I received a similar message from Alan Cooper, the Countryside and Country Parks Coordinator for Havering Countryside Service, who was unhappy about my drubbing of the final day of the Loop. After a few exchanges, though, we ended up seeing each other's points of view, so let's hope the same happens here!

Here's what I said about the section of the Loop that passes Rainham Landfill:

"The hills to your left are the grassy result of landfill, and they'd be almost pleasant if that was all there was to it. Unfortunately the dumping hasn't stopped yet, and just round the next corner the hills are live with the delights of rubbish. The whole place stinks to high heaven - yes, even worse than the sewage works in Kingston on day 6 - and then, just when you think it can't get worse, the path ends at a rusty gate in the middle of nowhere. And that, ladies and gentleman, is it; at the risk of dropping an awful pun, it stinks."

Basically, my criticisms are:

* The Loop ends in the middle of nowhere at a rusty gate, and you have to turn around and walk back the way you came.

* The place smells.

The first point is in no way a criticism of Rainham Landfill, and apparently there are plans to extend the Loop beyond this point, so over time I'd hope that this issue will go away. It's a criticism of the route planners, if anything, but not of the landfill.

The second point is related to the landfill, but it's still not a criticism. It would be stupid to have a go at a landfill for smelling of rubbish! But it's still unpleasant to walk past landfills and sewage works, and so yet again this is a criticism of the people who thought this would make a nice section to walk along. In my opinion, it really isn't (but, as with all my writing, this is just my opinion, and I'm glad some people like it, assuming this is the case).

I take your point about the landfill being home to lots of wildlife, but let's put this in perspective. After walking for nearly 150 miles around the London Loop to reach Rainham Landfill, I'm afraid the wildlife you mention is not really enough to recommend this section of the walk. The Loop is a gorgeous walk through miles and miles of wonderful countryside, and given that this path is a part of the London Loop, it's fair to compare it to the rest of the walk... and let's be honest, looking for wildlife by a landfill is not going to be something that many people fancy doing (at least, compared to walking through London's countryside). Again, though, this is no criticism of your landfill, it's a criticism of choosing to end the Loop with such a let-down.

Finally, I definitely agree that waste management is essential, and I really do appreciate the people who do it: I recycle rabidly, and wish the rest of the planet did. But, as I said, criticising a walk that goes past a landfill is not the same as criticising the landfill itself. My criticisms really aren't aimed at you or Rainham Landfill, and to be honest, I don't think they read as if they are...

Thanks very much for posting - I really value feedback, even when it's critical. I hope I've managed to convince you that I'm not out to get you!

Best wishes,

Mark

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Peter Wynn

Subject: Rainham Landfill
Posted: 1 Oct 2004 1:46 pm


Dear Mark,

I sort of see your point of view, and perhaps we are a bit defensive about our image!

I think a walk in this area is going to be a disappointment without the benefit of local knowledge for example - did you know that London Bridge came ashore here before being shipped to Arizona? Did you know Charles II set sail in the first ever royal yacht from Erith? That a German factory made armour plating here Throughout both world wars? Every inch of Britain is full of interest, but around here it happens to look ugly. So perhaps we could have hoped for a different slant.

Actually many visitors find our landfill and recycling operations fascinating, but we are unable to open up to the general public for obvious reasons.

Did the chap from Havering tell you that in due course we hope to extend the footpath around Coldharbour Point round to Purfleet? (erstwhile home of Dracula). If it happens in the near future I'll let you know. In the meantime Cleanaway are cooperating with a 700k scheme to create new footpaths around the site to the RSPB bird reserve. Perhaps the end of the footpath will warrant a better write up when it ends at a world class visitor centre, in about 2 years time.


Regards

Peter

PS. Reminds me of Basil Fawlty " what do you want...Karatakoa erupting in the distance?....Herds of wildebeest sweeping over the plains? Madame this is Torquay"

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Mark Moxon

Subject: Rainham Landfill
Posted: 4 Oct 2004 6:37 pm


Hi Peter.

"I sort of see your point of view, and perhaps we are a bit defensive about our image!"

That's a good thing. I doubt people are exactly falling over themselves to stick up for landfills... unless they work for Cleanaway, of course!

"I think a walk in this area is going to be a disappointment without the benefit of local knowledge for example - did you know that London Bridge came ashore here before being shipped to Arizona? Did you know Charles II set sail in the first ever royal yacht from Erith? That a German factory made armour plating here Throughout both world wars? Every inch of Britain is full of interest, but around here it happens to look ugly. So perhaps we could have hoped for a different slant."

Actually, I quite enjoyed the history of the area, when it made the walk interesting; I always do a bit of research first, as it can transform a walk. My favourite part was the collection of concrete barges on the north bank of the river, which played their part in D-Day. That was great!

But the story has to be really good if it's going to overcome the disappointment of ending up at a rusty gate by a gently wafting landfill, especially if there aren't any physical remains to look at. Is there any trace remaining of London Bridge's fleeting visit? Is the German factory still standing? (I'm afraid Erith is over the river on Day 1 of the Loop, not Day 15, though it's still a good story.)

I really appreciate your efforts to look on the bright side, but nothing is going to get away from the fact that the Loop ends somewhat ignominiously in the middle of nowhere, right by a landfill. That's my real criticism here, and even with amazing local history and plenty of wildlife, it doesn't alter the fact that it's an anti-climax, something that's particularly galling if the wind also happens to be in the wrong direction.

Most other walkers would see this as a disappointment too, I fear. You might hope for a different slant, but I think you might have to hope a little longer for that, perhaps until the developments you mention below are underway.

"Actually many visitors find our landfill and recycling operations fascinating, but we are unable to open up to the general public for obvious reasons."

That's a shame - it'd be fascinating to see how many members of the public decided to visit. It might make them think twice before throwing things like bottles and newspapers in the bin...

"Did the chap from Havering tell you that in due course we hope to extend the footpath around Coldharbour Point round to Purfleet? (erstwhile home of Dracula). If it happens in the near future I'll let you know. In the meantime Cleanaway are cooperating with a 700k scheme to create new footpaths around the site to the RSPB bird reserve. Perhaps the end of the footpath will warrant a better write up when it ends at a world class visitor centre, in about 2 years time."

Yes, he did, and it's great news. It would avoid the disappointment of ending up in the middle of nowhere and having to retrace your steps, which would be great. If it ends up in a bird reserve, so much the better! It's great that plans are afoot to improve things; the Loop is a wonderful walk, and anything that can be done to make it better gets a huge thumbs up from me. I look forward to revisiting in two years' time!

"PS. Reminds me of Basil Fawlty " what do you want...Karatakoa erupting in the distance?....Herds of wildebeest sweeping over the plains? Madame this is Torquay""

Ha! Ah well, it looks like things are on the up, so hopefully I'll be eating my words before long. Best of luck with developments... and thanks again for listening.

Best wishes,

Mark

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Peter Wynn

Subject: Rainham Footpaths
Posted: 27 Jun 2008 9:44 am


I'd forgotten about this - but my google alerts found it for me today!

We opened up a further 3km of walks this year. Far from ending at a rusty gate, the loop now ends at a rather nice visitor centre on the RSPB reserve, and you get to walk along a great section of the River, with views down to the QE2 bridge. The changes are principally due to the efforts of Haverings project officer, one Bob Flindall.

I think the place has been turned around in the last year, and I think you should come back, Mark, and update your views on the Loop!

regards, Peter

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Mark Moxon

Subject: End of the Loop
Posted: 27 Jun 2008 4:35 pm


Hi Peter.

That sounds great, and yes, I must revisit the area. I'm hoping to slot it in after I finish my tubewalk - see www.tubewalk.com - but in the meantime I've updated my article once again to point out that my comments are totally out of date!

I'm looking forward to seeing the results of Bob's hard work, and thanks for the update. I hope to be able to appreciate the results very soon... Smile

Best wishes,

Mark

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angela harvey

Subject: Rainham to Purfleet
Posted: 21 Feb 2017 4:55 am


I walked this route last year and it is much improved. As I write I am preparing to take s group of walkers on the last two stages of the London Loop. I noted that you did not update your write up since 2008. Did you walk the last stage again?

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Mark Moxon

Subject: End of the Loop
Posted: 21 Feb 2017 5:08 pm


Hi Angela.

No, I'm afraid I haven't. I don't live in London any more, which makes it even more difficult to get to than when it was merely on the other side of a capital city!

One day, maybe, but to be honest I think it's unlikely. I'm glad it's much improved, though - it was a rather sad end when I did it all those years ago, and the Loop definitely deserves a good final stretch.

Best wishes,

Mark

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