After making good my escape from entrapment in the building yard, I carried on down River Road hoping to get back to the riverside at some point.
Once one of the primary industrial roads in Barking, servicing the old Barking power station and various warehouses and stores along the Thames, now the road primarily services the building yards in the area and the Sunday Market on the site of the old power station.
On either side of the road at this point are reminders of the high voltage history of this area; from decaying switchgear and the buzz of still active pylons, to the warnings of buried cables and risks of electrocution.
The next landmark of any real significance as you continue down River Road is the Crooked Billet pub. Very much a locals’ local, nothing fancy – just a place for a pint and somewhere to take a break from a walk. The pub began life in a wooden cottage in 1719, later moving to its current premises.
Barking Creek is the name given to the stretch of the River Roding that runs though Barking; Creekmouth is where it joins with the Thames. Just opposite the Crooked Billet is a gateway that leads to the Creekmouth Open Space – one of the few intentionally publicly accessible areas along River Road.
A foot path leads though the space to two information points and finally to the Barking Barrier; a 60 m tall structure supporting a 200 ton steel barrier that, when in the closed position, prevents high tides and storm surges from entering the mouth of the Roding and flooding further upstream.
Erosion of the river banks is a significant problem in the Creekmouth, not helped by the Chinese Mitten crab – a foreign invader to UK shores that makes its home in holes in the bank, causing damage and eventual collapse.
At the very edge of the Roding, just before the barrier, attempts have been made to reduce erosion and to trap any silt washed down the Roding by the emplacement of twig bundles embedded in the bank to simulate the effect of plants roots. This seems to be having positive results – many of the bundles are now only just visible peeking through rich river mud deposited around them.
Though I looked I was unable to find any mitten crabs, but on the Thames banks on the other side of the barrier I did find many large woodlouse type creatures – about an inch long and looking exactly like a scaled up woodlouse – not something I had expected to find there. I’m still trying to get a positive ID for them.