Saturday, 31 October 2015

Walking "The Line"

Fiona at Staring at the Sea is going back to her SIPIDI meme, with SIPIDI standing for See It, Pin It, Do It! It's aimed at getting us to actually do the things that we see and pin on Pinterest. She's split it into two posts per month, with the first one about her plans, and the second her progress. The second one will be on the last Friday of the month so we can compare our projects and progress. I'm expecting sewing, baking, cards and maybe home decor projects to pop up on other blogs, but I'm bringing you a walk.

I walked the Jubilee Greenway earlier this year; it's a 60km circular walk around London which I finished in June. I'd intended to do the Capital Ring next, but I kept putting it off as other things cropped up during July and August. It's another circular walk, but twice as long, and I don't fancy starting it in the autumn as the weather gets worse. Thus I started looking for other, shorter walks to do now before tackling the Capital Ring in the New Year, or maybe in the Spring if we get the harsh winter that's being predicted.

One walk that I found online is "The Line", a new sculpture trail that loosely follows the Greenwich Meridian from Greenwich to Stratford. At the moment it's in three parts, linked by the Emirates Airway and the Docklands Light Railway, with artworks spread out along about 4.5 miles of the walking part of the trail.

I don't use Pinterest, but I bookmarked the walk and I planned to do it once my daughter went back to school in September, but the weeks started slipping by as I did other things.

When I read Fiona's SIPIDI post, I felt that I really should just get on with the walk; it had been four months since my last mini-expedition and I missed my days out. I just needed to get myself in gear and get out there. 

(That was a longer introduction than I planned - here's the actual walk.)

I decided to walk from South to North as I knew exactly where the Greenwich part of the trail runs, indeed I'd walked it in reverse as part of the Jubilee Greenway and I'd seen two of the artworks previously. Leaving North Greenwich station behind me, I headed for the river and soon spotted my first sign - they're red going north and blue going south.

Walking round the O2 I somehow went straight past the first artwork, placed on the Greenwich meridian and called Here, hidden as it was among the building work, and I had to backtrack to see it.

Distinctly underwhelmed, I moved on to A Slice of Reality, a 9m section of a sand dredger. I'd seen it before, but being low tide the whole structure was exposed this time.

Moving on, I came to Liberty Grip, a modern sculpture based on the limbs of store mannequins.

Next up was Antony Gormley's Quantum Cloud, which was a lot more interesting than the previous three. You can just see that the dense part in the middle is the outline of Gormley's body.

At this point there's a break in the walk, and you need to cross the Thames via the Emirates Airline, the cable car linking the Greenwich peninsula to the Royal Docks. I hadn't been on it before, but trusty Oyster card in hand I headed for the station. It wasn't at all busy, perhaps because it was a weekday morning, and I had a cabin to myself as I crossed the river, looking left over the O2

and right towards the Thames Barrier at Woolwich:

Arriving at the Royal Victoria Dock, there should have been three more artworks, but it appears that one hasn't been put in place yet, and one has been removed already. However Eduardo Paolozzi's Vulcan is there, incongruously plonked outside a restaurant, in a space that's too small to stand back and look at him properly.

Having explored the dock, the official 'walk' has you hopping on a train for two stops along the DLR to Star Lane, but it's only a mile or so and I'd barely got going, so I decided to walk. It was easy enough, basically following the line of the DLR, but it was certainly not a scenic part of London. Once I reached Star Lane, the signs for The Line reappeared, including this one painted on the ground:

The road took me to Cody Dock, a former derelict dock that is being transformed into a 'creative quarter with community gardens'. 

The dock opens onto the River Lea, and there I found the next artwork, Damien Hirst's Sensation, a cross-section of human skin:

Following the river now, the next sculpture was probably my favourite; called DNA DL90, it's a double helix made from shopping trolleys. And I love the fact that it's sited next to an Amazon distribution centre.

The River Lea meets both the Limehouse Cut and Bow Creek at Bow Locks, and here the walk does a spiral to place you on a narrow spit of land between the River Lea (on the left) and Bow Creek (on the right). 

It's actually surprisingly tranquil here, despite the road and rail bridges overhead, and I think that this is a waterway that I will come back to. The Lee Valley Walk runs from the Thames to Luton, and it looks to be worth exploring at least part of it.

Anyway, back to this walk, I followed the river up to Three Mills, a set of former water mills on the river, one of which is open to the public at weekends, while another houses a film studio. 

Passing between the buildings, I headed for Three Mills Green and the final sculpture, Network, a nine foot tall man looking at his mobile phone:

The walk continues from here along the river to Stratford High Street, but I decided to cut through Lee Valley Park and join the Greenway to get to West Ham for the train home. Unfortunately, both the park and this part of the Greenway are closed due to work to improve the sewer system, so I had to walk the streets instead.

I was rather disappointed with this walk, as the whole idea was to follow "The Line" - the Greenwich Meridian - and it failed to do this. Once you've left 'Here' behind you the meridian isn't even mentioned again. One reason that I wanted to get onto the Greenway is because I know that not only does the meridian cross it, but it's actually marked on the ground there:

Photo - January 2015
But the day wasn't wasted, it was a pleasant enough walk (if you ignore the extra part from Royal Victoria to Star Lane) and I saw some interesting artworks. I wouldn't do it again though, nor would I recommend the walk to anyone else as it stands. You would do much better to pick either the Thames or the Lea and follow it instead, and you could still see some of the art.

I've walked a large chunk of the Thames before (15 miles from Woolwich to Lambeth) but I will certainly be coming back to the River Lea in the future.

Thanks for sticking with me to the end, and now you can go and see what everyone else has been Seeing, Pinning and Doing!

1 comment:

  1. Thanks so much for taking part in SIPIDI! for October Amanda. I hoped there would be a nice variety of projects completed, but I didn't imagine a walk. Very original. I've added you to the board.