Monday, 12 February 2007

Thames Barrier to Greenwich

(Approximate Distance: 4.2 miles/6.7Km)

Getting to the start
We arrived at
Charlton Station which is the nearest train link to the Thames Barrier. From here we turned left out of the station on to Charlton Church Lane and walked down the hill to the Woolwich Road where we turned right and walked along to the 2nd roundabout and took the first left down Westmoor Street. Westmoor Street is bordered by many warehouses and garages and on a weekend is relatively deserted and to some level intimidating.

As you reach the end of the road you will see a tower with similar metal work on its roof to that used on the Thames Barrier. Next to it is a small green which you can get to though a gate in the fence surrounding it. Go through the green and go past the tower (either left or right) and you will reach the beginning of the Thames Path.

The Thames Barrier
Running alongside the Thames Barrier is a covered walkway. If you go to the beginning of the walkway, the end that where you face the Thames Barrier you will find the start of the Thames Path. The Thames Barrier was officially opened in 1984 and crosses 523 meters of the Thames in order to prevent the flooding of London. It was designed by
Rendel, Palmer and Tritton and works by raising 10 curved gates up to stem the flow of the river.

Inside the covered walkway you will see a plan of the Thames showing key points along it and their heights above sea level.

Useful links:
Environment Agency - The Thames Barrier
Wiki - The Tames Barrier

As you walk away from the Thames Barrier towards the source you will see how wonderfully industrious this area of the Thames is. Flanking the river on both sides you will see a sugar refinery, sand mills, scrap metal processing plants and many more factories. You maybe luck and see a large barge either collect or depositing its wares as we did! As you pass the Greenwich Yacht Club you will see some brightly coloured residential blocks along the path, these form the Greenwich Millennium Village. These buildings were designed by Ralph Erskine and is sited on what was the largest gas works in Europe. To the side of these is the developments very own Ecology Park with its own hides where you will see a myriad of birds. The buildings themselves are said to be of an environmentally friendly design.

Millennium Dome
As we walked past the Greenwich Millennium Village we could hear what appeared to be a midday gig. To our left we could to see 2 huge tent/prefab type buildings. These are the David Beckham Academy and this is where the music was coming from. Just up ahead from here is one of London's most controversial landmarks the Millennium Dome. The building was designed by Richard Rogers and was created to celebrate the new millennium putting on an exhibition for 1 year only. Since the end of the exhibition this building with the largest single roofed structure in the world has had little use and walking past it is quite upsetting as it has stated to become run down with plants growing up through the concrete and rain staining the canopy. However O2 now owns the dome and it has been renamed the O2 Arena and will be used as a music venue. It is expected to open in July this year (2007).

Useful links:
Wiki - Millennium Dome
The O2

Canary Wharf

Across the Thames from the Millennium Dome (the O2) is London's own mini New York with many skyscrapers Canary Wharfincluding 3 of the UK's tallest buildings. Originally the wharf received many of its imports from the Canary Islands but now is where many of the major financial services are in residence. The tallest of the buildings is One Canada Square and was designed by Cesar Pelli.

Useful links:
Canary Wharf

Soon after you walk around the Dome the terrain once again becomes industrial with some buildings being left derelict. I can not help but wonder what it would have been like in this area 25 - 50 years ago. If anyone reading this has any old photos of the area I would be grateful to see them and post them here.

As you come to the end of the industrialised area you will see the Greenwich Power Station. You are likely to have noticed the 4 huge chimney stacks as you left the area of the Dome. The building was completed in 1910 and was originally used to power the London Tram Network.

The area after the power station becomes more residential and some of the house are rather quaint. Continuing on past these house you come across the imposing National Maritime Museum which was opened in 1937. The museum was established because of an Act of Parliament in 1934 and contains a collection of 2.48 million items.

Useful links:
National Maritime Museum

Continuing past the museum you should see the form of the Cutty Sark, a tea clipper first launched in 1869. It is currently undergoing a conservation project to restore the wrought iron which is corroding throughout the hull. You can not see the ship at the moment as it is hidden behind boards and the great sails have been taken down. The conservation work will be finished in late 2008 and while you can not go on to it there is a temporary exhibition being launched in spring this year.

Useful links:
Cutty Sark

Getting home
Greenwich is where we end this part of the walk. There is lots to see and do here, for more information of what is available please see the links below. It is a good stopping point for both travel and food. So if you're hungry and you are doing the trip on the weekend it is worth popping in to the market to pick up a quick snack from one of the many stalls. If you just want to head off home your best option is the Dockland Light Railway (DLR). The nearest station is the "Cutty Sark" and from here you can get to Lewisham or Bank which will hopefully help you reach your final destination. This station is tucked away in a small shopping arcade. This can be found as you leave the square around the Cutty Sark exiting to the right. As you walk along you should see a mini Marks & Spencers and when you reach a bookstore take the first right after it. You should now be in the shopping arcade where you should easily be able to find the DLR.

Useful links:
Greenwich Tourism Zone

Saturday, 10 February 2007


The first part of this blog looks at the past as I have already started part of the journey but I feel it's good to mention how I started out. Originally the plan was to start the Thames Path at the source near Kemble, Gloucestershire ending the journey with a wonderful view of Thames meeting the sea. To get the journey rolling my wife and I thought it would be a good idea to spend the weekend away at a nice B&B and cover 20+ miles over that time period. Then we had some wonderful news; my wife was pregnant. This meant that she would get tired easily for the first trimester so we deiced to start closer to home in case we needed to get home for a nap! It also turns out that the Tames Path doesn't end/start where the Thames meets the sea but at the Thames Barrier.

Before out news we bought a guide book called "The Thames Path" by David Sharp. His book starts at the source. It's full of useful information and history but there is one slight problem with the book for our purpose and that is the route in it is now all backwards for us!

However I found a great website which can be found at which fortunatley for us starts at the Thames Barrier. Hopeful I won't be replicating too much of what I've found/find on the website in this blog but brining a different perspective and finding new things.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

In the beginning

After enjoying New Years Eve spent walking along the coastal path of Cornwall, well 5 miles of it any way, I thought to myself “what could I possibly do that is similar where I live”. Now I live in London. Beautiful coastal paths do not exist here and there is no rugged terrain either. I could always go to the Lake District or find some other beautiful coastal walk and holiday there but I would rather spend my holiday time going across seas (The reason being is the there are so many wonderful places in the world and some of them take a bit of time to get to). So I came up with the (not so new) idea of walking the Thames Path.

Living in London means that I can join the path any time that I like as it’s all within a relatively short train journey away. I can also walk for as long or as short as I like. Okay it might not be rugged but I believe it makes up for that in its beauty and fascinating history.

The plan is to walk the whole of the Thames Path within a year. In total that is 180 miles though I have heard it can be slightly more. The reason I’m keeping this blog is to share some of what I find along the way and maybe help people plan there own trip. I also welcome any advice for my trip as well so if you know of any interesting places to visit along the way or of any events taking place please let me know.

One other thing of note...this is my first ever blog!

Thames Barrier