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Posts Tagged ‘things to see and do in london’

Stage 2 : Greenwich to Battersea Park 18.04.2021 – 22.01 kms – 6 hours 20 min – 38,376 steps – elevation 102 meters

As mentioned in my progress report this stage too was longer than I originally planned, but I wanted to push through as far as possible and thereby get further along and also shorten a later day’s journey.

I left home at 07:50 for the 08:16 train to London via London Bridge and onto Greenwich arriving at Greenwich station by 10:40. As I left the exit of the station I noticed an interesting art installation; a number of bicycles had been attached to the roof above my head! Cool idea!!

walking the thames path
interesting idea for unused bicycles

I set MapMyWalk and off I went…. back to the riverside for the next stage of my walk along the Thames Path, heading upstream.

First a quick visit to Cutty Sark and of course another photo LOL a daytime pic of the foot tunnel entrance and a view upstream – I’m on my way!!!

tide is out – I’m heading upstream

Having planned on walking as far as Vauxhall, due to my extra section to Greenwich yesterday, by the time I reached Vauxhall Bridge it was still relatively early so I pushed on to Battersea Park….a place I love and the District area where my paternal Grandfather was born (hence my ability to get British citizenship).

Today’s walk was no less winding and twisting than yesterday’s and there were a lot more diversions…it looks like I was drunk if you look at the gps trail LOL

When you see this configuration, you can be sure of a diversion

I was VERY pleased to note than since the last time I walked this section (2017) there was now a walkway directly along the Thames Path; and the Greenwich Reach Swing Bridge has been added to cross Deptford Creek, without having to divert along the A200. I subsequently had a look on google and apparently it was opened in 2015 (?) – but I genuinely don’t remember it being there in 2017….maybe it was closed on the day, because I do remember having to divert and walk along the busy road.

I stopped at the wonderful statue of Peter the Great and had a photo done!! 😃 we have Russian heritage from my maternal grandfather, so yeah, maybe we’re related 😉

walking the thames path
Peter the Great and Cindy the Elder 😁

Across the river was Canary Wharf. It’s amazing how often you get a view of that area as you traverse the path. Tower Bridge 4.25miles 🙂

Thames Path and Canary Wharf

Looking back I could see the masts of the Cutty Sark faintly visible on the skyline.

There were numerous diversions, one of which took me well away from the riverside and past ‘Twinkle Park’ 🙂 cute name and very pretty.

From there you take a huge diversion through Deptford and eventually walking through Sayes Court Park, Lower Pepys Park and Pepys Park where you finally meet the river again. Ugh.

On closer inspection it would appear that the original route has more recently (?) been bricked off?? I wish I could remember the route from 2017.

I’m pretty certain I remember walking through a gap in the wall, then going right along a very narrow pathway before turning left again towards Twinkle Park – perhaps I’m mistaken.

There’s a lovely tree in Sayes Court Park that I noticed; a mulberry tree believed to have been planted in John Evelyn’s garden in 1698 by the Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, who stayed in Sayes Court during his trip to England, as art of the Grand Embassy. Amazing that it hasn’t been sacrificed on the altar of progress!!

Deptford is one of the most historic areas of greater London, and so well worth a visit. a snippet: the small fishing village of Deptford became an important supply centre for the Royal Navy in the 16th century after King Henry VIII established a shipbuilding dockyard there. Around 350 Navy vessels were built in Deptford between 1545 and 1869. They wouldn’t recognise the place now!

Deptford history

At St George’s Square I noted an information board about Sir Francis Drake: Explorer Sir Francis Drake is best remembered as the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe in his ship The Golden Hinde. Drake’s three-year voyage around the world from 1577-1580 made him one of the most famous men in Western Europe. Upon his return to Deptford, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I. The flight of stairs leading from the river to Foreshore are consequently known as ‘Drake’s Steps’. I had a quick look and they are quite unattractive.

Drake’s steps

You can see a replica of the Golden Hinde near Southwark Cathedral.

And on I went, zig zagging back and forth through industrial, maritime and residential areas diverting back and forth. The river Thames may be 215 miles (346 km) long, but the path I’m sure, is a LOT longer!!!

Another diversion

On I went passing South Dock Rotherhithe. Rotherhithe is another incredibly historic area and worth exploring when you have the time.

I soon reached Surrey Docks Farm – it’s ever so cute and with the partial lifting of lockdown, there were a lot of people visiting and sitting out in the sun drinking tea and eating cake and things. Kids ran around and the animals seemed bewildered at all the noise after the relative quiet of lockdown. I will take my grandson here to visit in 2022.

Surrey Docks Farm, Rotherhithe

There are so many interesting places to see along this stretch of the river with lots of little creeks and docks to be navigated, and I crossed numerous small bridges.

Bridges and diversions

The bridge at Lavender Pond Nature Reserve was quite fancy and I was grateful that these crossings allow you to traverse these places without having to divert. Like Deptford, Rotherhithe has so much history it’s quite extraordinary. You will also find sculptures and maritime relics dotted at various places along the path.

Then I passed Salt Quay and was reminded of the times I’ve stayed at the YHA nearby on many of my previous trips to London. It’s a perfect location for fantastic views of the river, and very close to Tower Bridge should you decide to walk alongside the river into central London.

Salt Quay, Rotherhithe

Here, beneath your feet you will find the Rotherhithe Tunnel, although you don’t actually see it since it passes below ground. I was excited to reach Cumberland Wharf Park because I knew what I would find; one of my favourite sculptures – The Pilgrim’s Pocket. An adorable sculpture of a Man (pilgrim) and a boy reading the Sunshine Weekly. Needless to say I took a lot of photos….I have lost count of how many photos I have of this sculpture!! There are story boards telling more about the history, well worth a read.

Next up the Brunel Museum. A small but fascinating museum, and especially if you go on the tour of the shaft. I remember when it opened many years ago, I was one of the first to visit with the rest of the group. We had to climb down some rickety stairs and scaffolding. Quite the adventure, but ever so much fun. Not for the fainthearted or people with a fear of heights. The Midnight Apothecary was open for bookings…socially distanced of course. Also a fun event if you’re with a good crowd.

Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe

Just a few metres along is the famous Mayflower Pub. It is said that the pilgrim fathers sailed from a dock nearby on the ship of the same name; The Mayflower. Mayflower was an English ship that transported a group of English families known today as the Pilgrims from England to the New World in 1620. After a gruelling 10 weeks at sea, Mayflower, with 102 passengers and a crew of about 30, reached America, dropping anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on November 21, 1620. ref wikipedia

Mayflower Pub, Rotherhithe

And then a short walk and opposite is St Mary’s Rotherhithe. I stopped to say ‘hello’. Master Christopher Jones Jr. Captain of the 1620 voyage of the Pilgrim ship Mayflower. He did however die in Rotherhithe, 5 March 1622 (52 years of age) and is buried in the church. After Christopher Jones died in 1622 the Mayflower lay idle on the mud flats of the River Thames near Rotherhithe and was reported in many books to be a “rotting hulk”. A sad end for a famous ship.

Back at the riverside you can see Tower Bridge (hoorah), The Shard, the the towers of London, as well as the bloody awful Walkie Talkie building. What a monstrosity. urgh. At this point I decided that since it was 1pm my feet deserved a rest and my belly some food. I tend to not eat much when walking, and neglect to feed the old belly. I had literally just reached the King’s Stairs Gardens where I could see lots of people stretched out on the grassy knoll, all sensibly socially-distanced of course, so made my way to the top of the mound and reclined on the grass, shoes and socks off and jacket under my head. I enjoyed my small picnic – same fare as the day before. Then I had a quick shut eye.

Is there anything more pleasant than lying on the grass in the sunshine

Setting off again at 2pm I made my way past The Angel Pub and stopped (for the gazillionth time) at the remnants of King Edward III’s Manor House. It’s super awesome to find these links with the past and brilliant that they survive and have not been ripped up for a block of flats.

King Edward III Manor House

Then I paid a visit to Dr Salter and family…a very sad story; his only daughter Alice died in 1910 at the age of 8 from scarlet fever. If you’ve never heard of Dr. Alfred Salter, it’s worth reading up on him and his wife…amazing couple.

Doctor Salter’s Daydream

From here again we have various diversions due to industrial development at the riverside, but in this instance it gives you the opportunity to walk past The Old Justice pub where Sir Paul McCartney, MBE, musician & songwriter, used the interiors and exteriors of this public house as locations in his film “Give My Returns to Broad Street” and for the music video to his hit single “No More Lonely Nights”.

Old Justice Pub & Paul McCartney

I occasionally encountered the Thames Tideway Tunnel construction sites and not too far along was another such. They’re mostly boarded up, but there are terrific information boards telling you about what they’re doing and why. Moving sewerage is the short answer!! LOL It’s quite an enormous enterprise really, but then Greater London does host quite a lot of people. I stopped to study the maps for a bit and to marvel at just how long the Thames River is.

The Harpy Houseboat looked resplendent in red and blue as I whizzed on by, eager now to reach Tower Bridge. The crossing at St Saviour’s Dock was thankfully open or I’d have had another diversion to navigate.

And voila Butler’s Wharf. A truly superb place with lots of little restaurants, interesting sculptures, maritime relics and of course a fab view of Tower Bridge, and when the tide is out, a little beach to do some mud-larking.

Butler’s Wharf and Tower Bridge

Hiding away in Courage Yard is the delightful sculptural fountain – ‘Waterfall’ by Antony Donaldson. Shad Thames is another fantastic place to while away the time.

Waterfall, Courage Yard

Finally I reached the bridge and promptly bought a much needed soft-serve ice-cream with flake – of course LOL. The time was now 14:35 and I had left Greenwich Station at 10:40. 3 hours of walking….not too bad eh.

Tower Bridge – 1st of many bridges from London to Hampton Court

A short video showing various features along the Thames Path between Greenwich and Tower Bridge.

After a short break I set off once again. How lucky I was to have such amazing weather!!

From here I pretty much photographed ALL the main attractions and ALL the bridges LOL I won’t share them all (“Whew”, I hear you say 😁😁)…instead I’ve created a short video so you can see some of the amazing places along the banks of the Thames from Tower Bridge to Lambeth Bridge.

Of course I had to stop and capture an image of another of my favourite London sculptures; The Navigators, David Kemp at Hay’s Galleria.

The Navigators, Hay’s Galleria

Approaching London Bridge I chose to walk the back streets and past Southwark Cathedral, but first my favourite quote:

“There are two things scarce matched in the universe; the sun in heaven, and the Thames on the earth.” Sir Walter Raleigh.

By now I was walking through another favourite area; Southwark – soooo much history it’s mind-blowing. Southwark Cathedral, The Golden Hinde, Winchester Place, The Clink Prison, The Anchor Pub (from whence Samuel Pepys observed The Great Fire of London in 1666), The Globe Theatre and then Tate Modern. By now I had a fab view of St Paul’s Cathedral. I was dying to cross the river for a quick visit….but time was marching on, so I did too. Next time.

St Paul’s Cathedral, City of London

An ever so popular area in front of the Tate Modern where you can usually catch a busker or watch the chaps with their bubbles, which the kiddies love.

We all love bubbles

I tried walking along the South Bank, but it was incredibly busy and I felt quite crowded out. I got as far as Waterloo Bridge before deciding I’d had quite enough of the crowds thank you – but first a photo of the famous open air book market.

Waterloo Bridge book market – not much social distancing going on there!

Crossing the river to the north bank

Downstream from Waterloo Bridge

I snuck into the Victoria Embankment Gardens. Ever so glad I did…..it was a haven of tranquillity and ablaze with splendid colour. The flower beds here in spring time are absolutely marvellous with hundreds of colourful tulips.

I stopped for a brief respite and to snack while enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and peace, another of my favourite sculptures nearby; The Memorial to Arthur Sullivan by William Goscombe John. It’s ever so beautiful.

Alfred Sullivan memorial in Victoria Embankment Gardens

Then off again…still on the north bank till I reached Westminster Bridge where I returned to the South Bank. Along the way passing two of my favourite memorials; The Battle of Britain and Boudicca, and the White Lion sculpture at Westminster Bridge.

I stopped to take a pic of Big Ben but it’s mostly covered with cladding…oh well. I’ve got ‘hundreds’ of photos of the tower!!

Once more across the river, opposite, the Houses of Parliament / Palace of Westminster looked dark and menacing – the sun was at just that angle.

Houses of Parliament, Westminster

I then followed the Albert Embankment towards Vauxhall Bridge.

Just outside St Thomas’s Hospital I noticed hundreds of hearts with names and dates painted along the wall of St Thomas’s Hospital boundary and thought “oh how lovely” without realising the significance. I was struck dumb and reduced to tears when I realised that is was a Covid-19 memorial and all those names I could see were of people who had died from the virus. It was shattering 💔💔💔

Covid-19 memorial, Albert Embankment

After pausing for a few minutes to pay my respects, I continued towards Lambeth Bridge where I passed Lambeth Palace; home to the Archbishop of Canterbury. That never makes sense to me…..he lives in London? – Canterbury is in Kent near the coast?? Like the Palace of Winchester in Southwark?? Daft.

Lambeth Palace

I was now passing through Nine Elms and making good progress. Passing the International Maritime Organisation I stopped for a quick pic of the International Memorial to Seafarers – Sculpture by Michael Sandle at the International Maritime Organisation.

International Memorial to Seafarers

At 16:51 I reached Vauxhall Bridge.

Diversion at Vauxhall

Due to the path being obstructed by apartment blocks, MI6 and of course further along the old Battersea Power Station on the next section of the river, I crossed over the river to the north bank at Vauxhall Bridge

I had a fab view of MI6 – you know James’s Bond’s old haunt!! Back in the City of Westminster I popped into the small Pimlico Gardens where I saw an interesting sculpture; The Helmsman – by Andre Wallace. These sculptures always fascinate me…the mind of an artist!!! How they visualise these things is just amazing.

The Helmsman

Not too much further and I was passing Battersea Power Station. I have to admit that I find it really strange to look at now with all the new developments that surround it.

Ex-Battersea Power Station

And boom!!! 17:27 and I could see Chelsea Bridge just ahead of me! Looking back I had a fine view of the downstream skyline as well as the Battersea Power Station and the Grosvenor Railway Bridge.

Chelsea Bridge

And then finally I was crossing the river towards Battersea Park and reached the Chelsea Gate at just on 17:36 ! Hoorah. To my surprise the Thames Path makes it’s way through the park, so following the signs I made my way towards Rosery Gate and the station…home time!!!

I switched mapmywalk off when I reached the platform: 6 hours, 19 minutes and 46 seconds LOL

The Shard, London Bridge – I’m on my way home

What a terrific day. Boy my feet were sore….. but although my feet were aching (38,376 steps!!) my heart was full of joy! I just love London and the day was absolutely glorious. I could not have wished for a better day. Stage 2 done and dusted. I then had a two day break; time with the family, before picking up again on 21st for Stage 3…..watch this space 🙂 Battersea Park to Richmond.

In case you missed the previous 2 posts:

Stage 1a – Walking the Thames Path; Erith to the Thames Barrier

Stage 1b – Walking the Thames Path; Thames Barrier to Greenwich

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“We are such stuff as dreams are made on” – Shakespeare

Today is my birthday and I’d like to take this opportunity to thank my Mother; Marjorie Joy and my Father; John Derrek Alan for having me, although I’m sure unplanned, on such an auspicious day. If I hadn’t been born on the 23rd I wouldn’t have a story to tell about St George, Shakespeare and Me 😉

Discovering that I was born on St George’s Day and William Shakespeare’s birth & death day has been an endless source of interesting discoveries.  During my London walkabouts and UK travel adventures I have come across reference to them both….inciting many photos to be taken.st georges day (3)

On my many, many London walkabouts I have taken thousands of photos of the city and of course anything I find on Shakespeare and St George.  Here are some images I have discovered along the way and some of me at various events in London; Trooping the Colour in 2010, the Green Man event in 2013, the Tudor Pull in 2014, at the Feast of St George in 2014 at Trafalgar Square, up The Shard with my daughter Cémanthe in 2014, and pretending I’m a Queen at Hampton Court Palace in 2015, just some of the fun things I have done in London.

and our helicopter flight over London on my birthday in 2015.London Helicopter

The traditionally accepted date of Saint George’s death in 303 AD, April 23rd, is it seems an auspicious day….for not only is it recognised as St Georges Day (the patron saint of England) but it is also William Shakespeare’s birth and death day, and my birthday… 😉
Since 23 April 1616 was the date of death and possibly anniversary of birth of the English playwright William Shakespeare (according to the Julian calendar), UNESCO declared this day the International Day of the Book.IMAG4762

Celebrated by many other countries around the world, in fact St George is even mentioned in the will of Alfred the Great. England is not the only country to embrace our lad St George, many other countries celebrate St George’s Day too, including Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Georgia, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, and Serbia as well as which a great number of cities including Genoa in Italy, Beirut in Lebanon, Qormi and Victoria in Malta, Moscow in Russia, Ljubljana in Slovenia and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, amongst many others it’s also celebrated in the old Crown of Aragon in Spain — Aragon, Catalonia, Valencia, and Majorca. So we do indeed have much in common with many other parts of the world.

As for William himself, born in Stratford-Upon-Avon, the date of his birth, although unknown, is universally accepted as 23rd April, he was baptised on 26 April 1564 during what became known as the Elizabethan era – 1558-1603.

London has paid homage to both men and you can find many statues, busts, stained glass windows and paintings featuring them both.

Today is also the first birthday I’m celebrating as a fully-fledged British Citizen. 🙂

 

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me and the green man

me and the Green Man

yes! You read that right…..I went Wassailing down the Thames on a Sunday afternoon!!  The Twelfth Night of Christmas festivities are held annually on the 6th January, and this year (also the first year) I got to hear about it!
So yesterday (January 6th) was one of the highlights of my London life to date!!  I have lived in this city for 11 years now and it was only 2 weeks ago that I learned about the custom of wassailing.  I received an email from a friend of mine inviting me to join him and his crew on the Trinity Tide as they carried the Holly (Green) Man from St Katherine’s Pier along the Thames to Bankside.    I joined the cutter and crew at the pier at 1.45pm and my excitement knew no bounds; to be a passenger on the Trinity Tide had been a dream of mine since November 2010 when I first saw it in the Lord Mayor’s Show 🙂

the trinity tide

the beautiful Trinity Tide

My daughter who was to be the official photographer and I set off really early and made our way to Tower Hill…thankfully the trains were running just fine and we made it in good time 🙂    We stopped off at Costa Coffee for a last-minute order (by text…gotta love social mobility) of 5 hot coffees; white please!! 🙂     I was guessing the crew were in need of urgent refreshment after rowing on what was a cold and grey day, from Deptford to Tower Bridge.   Then down to the pier it was…I was still stressing big time about ‘am I in the right place?’ & ‘where were we landing?’ and sent a panic stricken text to Joe to make sure I had the right place. Daft!!!

twelfth night festivities

me on my phone 🙂

When we arrived at the pier, there was no Green Man to be seen; my nerves were skittering about and almost overwhelmed my excitement.  Then suddenly I saw the Trinity Tide as she rounded the bend

twelfth night festivities the trinity tide

the Trinity Tide arrives in good time

and a few seconds later I saw the Green Man making his way down the walkway to the pontoon!! Hooray!! I was in the right place at the right time! This does not happen often 🙂  The Green Man looked absolutely splendid decked out in his greenery and the face painting was extraordinary!   The Holly Man ‘brings in the green’ and ‘wassails’ or toasts the people, the River Thames and the Globe – an old tradition encouraging good growth.

the green man arrives

the extraordinary Holly (Green) Man arrives

The cutter pulled up alongside the pontoon and quick as a flash before anyone could change their minds I was on and seated.  Try to pry me off now and see how far you get!!! 🙂

the trinity tide and the twelfth night festivities

safely ensconced and looking as pleased as punch

Within a very short space of time we were off…..the piper in the bow,

the piper in the bow of the trinity tide

settled in for the trip; the piper in the bow of the Trinity Tide

the oarsman ready to row, the jolly green man standing as we go, one of the Mummers to wave and say hello; wassail the boats, then me in the VIP seat ( 🙂 ) and Joe standing at the stern to guide us safely along the river with nautical expressions like: easy as you go, or keep it even lads and even the odd ‘heave’.

trinity tide sailing under tower bridge

looking ever so tiny against the huge structure of Tower Bridge, the Trinity Tide is on her way

Ohmygosh…what fun!!! I was truly in my element, grinning from ear-to-ear like a cheshire cat.  I could scarcely believe my luck.
What an experience…..I can recommend it to anyone….although I am not sure that you would be able to go in the Trinity Tide, but you can sure take a ferry along the river.  The views of the city are marvellous and although the tide was out and the water so low I could probably have walked along the river (kidding!), it was just amazing to sail beneath the bridges and see the buildings along the embankments from that perspective.

london bridge

the underbelly of London Bridge, thankfully not falling down that day.

The Cap’n and his crew hailed and cheered the Green Man and the Trinity Tide and even 3 Days in London got 3 cheers….what fun!!
We made exceptionally good time, those blokes sure know how to row….and before we knew it, and way too soon for me, we arrived at Bankside.

green man welcoming party at bankside

the Green man arrives at Bankside…let the festivities begin!!!

And an extra bonus….because we were so early we (the rowers not me!!) rowed almost to Waterloo Bridge and then back down again, all the while the Mummer and Green Man wassailing along the Thames.
We landed safely on the beach (Churchill would have been proud), where we were met by a group of Mummers and others.

twelfth night festivities mummers at bankside

The Mummers waiting to greet the Green Man

Quick as a flash the Green Man was gone and I didn’t even have time to say goodbye 🙂  I climbed out the boat with huge reluctance!  The embankment was lined with revellers and spectators there to see the arrival of the Green Man from the Thames, watch the Mummers and join in with the celebrations and Twelfth Night festivities.
Their costumes were just brilliant and the characters enchanting!  I said goodbye to the Trinity Tide and crew and all too soon they made their way back along the Thames to Deptford.

the trinity tide leaves for her return voyage to deptford

goodbye Trinity Tide; bon voyage and thank you

The play was in full swing by the time I found myself a good vantage point and although I could not see very well or hear much of what was going on, the bits that I did get to see and hear were uproariously funny.  At the end of the play, cakes are distributed – a bean and a pea hidden in two of them. Those who find them are hailed King and Queen for the day and crowned with ceremony.  The little cakes were duly handed out and King Bean and Queen Pea were identified, they were crowned and the whole jolly group set off with revellers and spectators trailing behind to the George Inn for the next bit of the tradition.  I ran like mad through the back streets (it’s really useful knowing my way around!) to get to the George Inn before the crowd as I really wanted to record them arriving….which they did with great noise, pomp and ceremony!! What a brilliant experience.

mummers at the george inn southwark

the Holly (Green) Man arrives at the George Inn, Southwark amidst much noise and ceremony

I can highly recommend that you put the 6 January 2015 into your diary and head on over to Bankside for next year’s festivities.  Snippets of information in this blog are from this site; do visit it, it’s brilliant.

If you would like to join me on twitter  where I post information about London I would be delighted.  I am also on facebook and if you have any photos you would like to share of your London experiences, why not join the growing community of people who love London.  Thanks for dropping by and reading this blog, I also blog about London at 3 days in London.  So if you are in London for 3 days….or perhaps more, do feel free to visit the website for some ideas on places to visit and things to do and I wish you a wonderful stay.

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