Thames Path Walk: Greenwich–City Hall

I spent last week in London staying with friends in Greenwich. On Tuesday we walked from Greenwich to the Hays Galleria by London Bridge railway station, about eight miles in total (because of all the twists and turns in the Thames).  I took a good few photographs along the way, some of which you can see below.

During the six hours we took, including a couple of stops, we saw no one else actually walking beside the Thames. People gathered at the few attractions we passed and the one pub which was open, but that was it.

I have created the above map with the help of Open Street Map, which I used to provide me with a template, then deleted for clarity. Follow the map from bottom to top, as the walk begins on Royal Hill. Click on the link and you should go to a street map of the area.

A few steps from where my friends live on Royal Hill on the edge of Greenwich town centre and you catch this view of the old Town Hall, now part of Greenwich University.

This is Randall Place. Turn 180° and you can see Greenwich town centre bustling with visitors. Few ever make it into the side streets, where you feel a thousand miles from the centre of London, even though you are no more than five. Ivy, who led us through the back streets and along half-hidden passageways to get here, went to school in a 19th century building to the left of this pic and so did her grandfather, father and children.

The two homes nearest to us on Haddon Street were once shops, now converted into homes.

 On my occasional visits to London, I usually stay in Greenwich and this modern development seems to have been under construction for years. Most of the retail units remain unlet. 

I rather like this futuristic apartment block overlooking Deptford Creek on one side and across the Thames to the Isle of Dogs in the other direction. The cityscape in the distance is one which is probably now instantly recognised the world as London Docklands.

Deptford Creek is tidal and I rather like the contours of this mud bank.

A fun statue of Peter The Great from Russia, who came to London in 1698 and watched a Royal Navy Review at Deptford. He also picked up ideas on shipbuilding during his visit.

Thames Path signage which marks the route. Unfortunately, in places the sdignage disappears. I suspect it has been stolen. I can think of no other explanation.

Just along from Peter The Great is this, seemingly, abandoned mooring where boats once tied up to load and unload goods for the many businesses which would once have lined the banks of the Thames.

Twinkle Park Nature Reserve within yards of the Thames.

I saw this and immediately did not see a children's playground, I saw the execution stakes in a quiet corner of the National Memorial Arboretum at Alrewas in Staffordshire. I have only been to the NMA once, but what I saw clearly made an impression on me. 

Typical of the kind of modern apartment blocks lining the Thames.

Most visitors to London choose to explore the Thames from the comfort of a river boat. I was taken by the sliding glass canopy, which you can see drawn back.

The stone marking the boundary between Kent (to the left) and Surrey (to the right).
From here, the locations of the photographs i have used are marked on the map below, again from the bottom up.

There is still some work to do and I intend to complete this posting and the maps tomorrow (Tuesday).

Turn 180° and you see Docklands in all its 21st century glory. In 1819 the Isle of Dogs was part of Middlesex, the county in which I grew up, as Wembley was also in Middlesex, and now you have reached to top of my first map.

This second map now continues the rest of the walk to City Hall and a little way beyond. Once past Greenland Dock... will, if you look up, see this small nursery play area at first floor level which is overlooked by lots of ceramic faces. I suspect they are of literary figures as some were vaguely familiar, but none I could actually put a name to.

Then you have to turn away from the Thames and walk down this narrow passage called 'Randalls Rents', which will bring you out onto Odessa Street. This photograph is looking back towards the Thames.

Once you are back besides the Thames, it is not long before you come to the entrance to the Surrey Docks City Farm (when the Farm is closed, you have to walk along Rotherhithe Street instead).

Inside the City Farm entrance is this piggy artwork.

The City Farm is a collection of buildings around a concrete yard with some grassed areas behind for sheep, goats, cows and lots of chickens. The Farm café in this building was closed despite a sign saying it was open. There is also a small Farm Shop. 

Outside the Farm and on the Thames Path again was a gate and steps leading down to a small foreshore, where I took this photograph.

There is then quite a long stretch walking beside the Thames. Par way along is a Hilton Hotel which results in another diversion away from the river, but then you are back besides the Thames for some distance.

I have added this photograph when editing this blog post on 15 October 2013. I did not include it originally because the Old Salt Quay pub is not much to look at, but, on reflection, it deserves a mention for a number of reasons: 1. It was the only pub we passed on our walk which was actually open at lunch-time. Every other pub did not open until late-afternoon at the earliest; 2. The staff were friendly and good at their job; 3.  It sold an English bottle conditioned pale ale, a delightful Greene King just 3% alcohol, and 4 the food was good. We had two Fish n' Chips and one Beef & Ale Pie, wholesome and filling. 

To one side of the pub is the old docklands bridge. There are plenty of others dotted about, left in situ as a reminder, I suspect, of when the area had lots of  docks, many now filled in.

One of the two Rotherhithe (road) Tunnel ventilation shafts on either side of the Theames at this point.

Rotherhithe Street has a number of early-20th century council tenement blocks along its length. They are all impressive and a reminder that no so long ago the only people who wanted to live in Docklands were local workers and their families and that it was local councils that pulled down the old housing and replaced them with what, at the time, would have been 'state of the art' housing.

This statue is called 'Sunshine Weekly and The Pilgrim's Pocket' and was commissioned by the Mayflower Tenants' Association and is dated 1991.

The Angel, a rather a fine looking pub on the bank of the Thames. Closed like all the other pubs we saw, except for the Old Salt Quay.

Opposite The Angel this brick wall with a notice saying it was once part of a Edward III (royal) manor house. I will try to find out more when I get the chance. Just how did it manage to survive I wonder, given how this area was so heavily developed in recent centuries?

This old drinking fountain reminds me of a Dalik.

Another cut-through passage forming part of the Thames Path. Once out the other end...

... you were confronted with this view. This is actually my favourite photograph from the day. Not a person in sight, but it still seems busy to me. Notice all the bicycles on the barge to the right.  Tower Bridge was like a picture frame and caught many different vistas, a few of which I photographed, but we all know what Tower Bridge looks like, so this is the view of the Bridge I have included.

The Design Museum, where we stopped for coffee. A museum we have visited in the past. Many years ago, Susan and I enjoyed a memorable lunch here.

Under Tower Bridge and you are confronted with City Hall. It isn't a building which I warm to, but they have something to do with the incumbent Mayor of  London. God help us if he ever becomes PM — with so many voters willing to behave like turkeys looking forward to Christmas it could happen!

Outside City Hall, 3,400 teddy bears were laid out in rows. One for every child in Britain who will catch Meningitis in any one year, of whom 340 will die and these are represented by the white teddy bears, which you can see dotted about the photograph.

Just beyond City Hall was Hay's Galleria, which we walked though to reach London Bridge Station...

... passed this wonderful work of art. I have yet to find out what it is meant to be.

This is 5.10pm train to Gillingham, first stop Greenwich, pulling into London Bridge Station. The station was manic and a warren of tunnels going every which way possible and, thanks to my using it many years ago a few times a year to go to various places in Kent, I was not overwhelmed by the experience. 

Off the train at Greenwich and five minutes later my friends were striding ahead of me to open their front door, glad to be home.

Having London Freedom Passes, my friends (also oldies like me) can travel free 24/7 on buses, Underground, Overground and trains, which means they rarely use buses, but no walk around London would be complete if it did not include a bus — hence this 180, with a far better destination display than most London buses (a topic for another blog), about to turn onto Greenwich High Road.

Well, this has probably been my longest blog ever and I am already thinking of giving it its own page. This personal account of walking the Thames path from Greenwich to City Hall is better than others I have seen. Not perfect  know, but I think my maps are clearer because many now try to cram on too much information and every other word seems to be a live weblink.

I hope you have enjoyed this personal take of a day walking part of the Thames Path.

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