Monday, 13 April 2015

Jubilee Greenway - Cutty Sark to Tower Bridge

I'm going back to the Jubilee Greenway now; it's a 60km circular walk around London commemorating the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and I started it in January. I'm behind with blogging it, and I walked this section on 21 February.

I started off by retracing my steps to the Old Royal Naval College. Last time I was here, a film crew was swarming around, but today all was peaceful and the buildings were not obscured by equipment.

Photos in the bag, I set out again on the Jubilee Greenway, looking back towards the College, the Cutty Sark and the dome of the Woolwich foot tunnel.

I would be following the Thames again today, and my next landmark was a statue of Peter the Great, Tsar of Russia, who studied shipbuilding here at Deptford Dockyard in 1698.

I veered away from the river for a short stretch through a residential area. My guide says that this is the only marker pointing the wrong way, but it appears that someone has turned it round. I followed it across Lower Pepys Park and between the flats into Upper Pepys Park.

Sadly, there's no statue of Samuel Pepys in the park, but I did find another Millennium Milepost. One thousand of these have been erected on cycle paths across the country, and this is the second that I've seen (the first was near the O2 - see this post). I'm heartily glad that I am not heading for either Oxford (110 miles) or Dover (115) and can't imagine choosing to cycle between the two cities.

Back to the river, and it's time for another cannon

then something a bit different - Circumsphere (by Chris Marshall and Stephen Lewis) - a sculpture made from more than a mile of steel rods, with discs that show the route of Sir Francis Drake's circumnavigation of the globe. His voyage ended here in 1581.

Then I crossed over the lock gates at South Dock Marina

and onwards to Greenland Dock with its Tide Gauge House and Lock Keeper's Office.

With a choice of bridges, I used the old Swing Bridge to cross the Dock and return to the riverside.

From the old to the new, and another sculpture - The Curlicue by William Pye.

The Jubilee Greenway passes through Surrey Docks Farm next, though the first animals I saw were more sculptures.

Mindful of the distance that I had still to walk, I bypassed the real animals, and continued along the river. There seem to be cannons and anchors wherever the path is wide enough, and I passed a few more here.

I detoured inland again, around the Hilton Hotel, and emerged at the river to see a sailing boat which I watched while I walked through another residential area

with an obelisk, that appears to serve no purpose. There's no inscription on it and I can't find anything online about it. Then again, there are plenty of sculptures in London that have no 'purpose'.

Then I passed Limehouse Marina on the opposite bank. This is where the Grand Union Canal meets the River Thames and it will be the end point of my walk in another 20 miles or so.

Up ahead of me, I could see the skyscrapers of the City of London silhouetted against the sky

and then I passed Metropolitan Wharf - setting for The Great British Sewing Bee (which I love watching even though I haven't sewn anything in years).

My destination now appeared on the path signposts, but I wasn't sure whether to be glad or sad that the distance wasn't on there. It seemed like I still had a long way to go and my legs were beginning to ache.

As the river bends, I was surprised to see as far as the top of the Millennium Wheel at Westminster, dwarfed by the Shard at London Bridge.

The path weaves in and out of housing, sometimes next to the river, sometimes a street away. I passed 'The Sunshine Weekly and the Pickpocket' (by Peter McLean) on one of these corners, but I've not been able to find any more information about the statue online.

I'd been in Rotherhithe for a while now, and I reached the Brunel Museum, which is in the old Engine House used to pump water out of the Thames Tunnel, the first tunnel in the world to be built under a navigable river. The tunnel was built by Marc Isambard Brunel and his son Isambard Kingdom Brunel between 1825 and 1842; designed for use with horse-drawn carriages, its costs spiralled and the finished tunnel was only used by pedestrians who accessed it via a zig-zag staircase. In the 1860s, it was bought by the East London Railway Company who ran trains through the tunnel; today London Overground trains still run through it to Wapping.

Outside the museum is a bench based on the last of Brunel's constructions - the Royal Albert Bridge over the River Tamar

and, contrary to what my guide says, a Jubilee Greenway marker that IS pointing in the wrong direction. 

I followed the path in the right direction, and passed the Church of St Mary the Virgin and a memorial to Christopher Jones, master of the Mayflower, who lived in Rotherhithe from 1611 to his death in 1622. He was buried in the churchyard here, but the exact location has been lost.

Returning to the river once again, it was heartening to see my destination, Tower Bridge, ahead of me, but it was still a long way to go.

Next up were some gardens, with a plinth commemorating the Queen's Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees. 

Going on takes me into Bermondsey, with Wapping Police Station, home to the Marine Policing Unit, on the opposite bank.

On Bermondsey Wall East are statues of Dr Alfred Salter and his wife Ada, philanthropists who provided free health care to the people of the area in the early 20th century.

After Bermondsey Wall West, the path runs along a passageway between the buildings of New Concordia Wharf, 

and then crosses St Saviour's Dock on an award-winning, almost invisible, modern bridge.

I almost walked straight past the Design Museum,

but my attention was drawn to the sculpture outside - Head of Invention by Eduardo Paolozzi. I wasn't sure what is was from behind, 

but it became obvious when I walked round to the front.

One last anchor, the biggest yet, 

and I'd finally reached my destination.

I was really glad to cross over, on my way to the station, 

but I had time to look back at the last part of the walk, along Butler's Wharf

and to stop near Tower Hill tube station to see Emperor Trajan guarding one of the largest remaining fragments of the Roman city walls.

Thanks for sticking with me through such a long post. The next stage of my walk runs from Tower Bridge along the South Bank to Lambeth, and then across to Westminster. I hope to bring you that quite soon, and then to keep on top of the blog posts as I walk each section in future. 

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