Thames Path – South Bank – Greenwich Walk – 10.02.2012

This was the first walk of 2012! It was a great feeling to be able to put on my walking boots, despite the recent snowfall, and be able to enjoy the winter sunshine! This walk was to complete the section of the Thames Path from the South Bank, where I thought it was appropriate to return and to end in Greenwich.

We started out from the London Eye, which we had not been able to previously fully appreciate. At first glance it did not look like it was moving. However, when we stopped we saw that it is rotating very slowly! It is very different from a big wheel at a fun fair, which you would expect to go around quite fast, it is spinning at 0.9km (0.6 miles) which is twice as fast a tortoise sprinting. If we had the time to take a journey on the wheel, it would have taken 1/2 an hour to go around. The views would have been worth it as apparently you can see as far as Windsor castle from the top on a good day, which is about 40KM (25 miles) away 🙂

We left the wheel behind to begin our walk along the Thames path. It was reassuring to the see the Houses of Parliament and Big Ben were still standing, particularly after all the New Years Fireworks that I witnessed at the beginning of the year lol.

From 2012 – 10.02.2012 – Thames Path – South Bank – Greenwich Walk

As we continued on our walk, it was nice to find that our paths crossed with the “Jubilee Walkway”. The walkway is about 15 miles around London and was created to celebrate the Queens Silver Jubilee. It did raise the question, will there be a diamond jubilee walkway? As we strolled along the path we took in various sights. I am always struck by St Paul’s Cathedral and the way it dominates the skyline. This is indeed an amazing architectural feat by Sir Christopher Wren!

Another building that took my eye was the “OXO” Building. I am disappointed I did not get a better photo of it. This beautiful Art Deco style building was built and designed by Albert Moore between 1928 and 29. The Liebeg company, better known as OXO, were refused any advertisements on their buildings. Moore designed the windows to look similar to OXO to get around the problem!

In answer to my question about whether their walkway for the diamond jubilee, we came across “Jubilee Greenway”, which is 37 miles long, created to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee! 🙂 We walked on past Blackfriars bridge, a which has crossed the Thames since it’s completion in 1869. Queen Victoria opened the bridge to quite some ceremony, and apparently the bridge was decorated with plants and birds! That would have truly been a sight to see, I can’t imagine that happening now when a new London Bridge is being opened!

As we continued on, we found ourselves going past the Tate Modern. The setting for the modern artwork, is actually in the former Bankside Power Station. This was built and designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, who was famous for designing the Red Telephone Box, Liverpool Cathedral and Battersea Power Station. The path then took us on past the Millennium Footbridge, which crosses the Thames between the City and South bank.

From 2012 – 10.02.2012 – Thames Path – South Bank – Greenwich Walk

Our walk seemed to contain quite a contrast in history, as we just passed the Millennium bridge built in 2000 to, be faced with Shakespeare’s Globe. Despite being a reconstruction of the original Globe theatre, it was a lovely sight to see that a theatre that had been demolished in 1644 had once again revived. It seems that under the Puritan administration in 1642, all theatre’s were to be closed, hence why the Globe became disused. Hopefully the new Globe does not suffer the same fate and continues to show Shakespeare’s greatest plays, just as it did many years ago!

We passed by another piece of history that was just sitting in a wall of a cafe! “The Ferryman’s seat”, also known as the “Wherryman’s Seat”. The seat originates as a resting place for the Ferryman, who used to operate a ferrying service across the Thames. They must have really needed the rest particularly as London Bridge had been the only other way to cross the river up until 1750! I can’t imagine what it would have been like to operate a ferry across back then, particularly as the Thames was not as clean as it is now. It seems like they would have to negotiate mud, sewerage and rats! They definitely needed this seat to recover. As far as I am aware this is the only remaining example in London.

From 2012 – 10.02.2012 – Thames Path – South Bank – Greenwich Walk

We passed beneath Southwark bridge, were the tale of the London Frost Fairs is told. It seems that in days gone-by when there was only one bridge spanning the river, the Thames was subject to freezing over in the winter. The first frost fair was in 1564, where people took part in Archery and dancing! Virginia Woolf has a depiction of the frost fair of 1608 in her novel “Orlando”. The fairs got bigger over time, until the last one was held in 1814. This fair was held for about a week, stalls were set up and even donkey’s gave rides! When the new London Bridge was built in 1823, the Thames no longer froze.

The Thames path deviates at this point from the Thames side, and took us around the back streets. We encountered the “Clink Prison Museum” the Clink was located in this area from about 1144 to 1776 and was owned by the Bishop of Southwark. As we passed by The Clink museum we were astounded to see the remains “Winchester Palace”, which the original Clink had been part of. The only remaining part of the building, is the outline of the Rose Window, which would have been part of the Great Hall. Most of the original palace was destroyed by fire in 1814. The Palace was originally for the Bishops of Winchester, but I can imagine that this place would have been amazing, with a tennis court, pleasure gardens and a bowling alley!

Walking on we were suddenly faced with a large Galleon ship. A full reconstruction of Francis Drake’s ship, “the Golden Hinde”. Francis Drake’s original ship was left Plymouth in 1577 to circumnavigate the entire globe. Drake was given permission to be a “Privateer”, by Elizabeth 1 to raid Spanish ships. Eventually on his return, the ship was full of gold and treasures, Elizabeth 1 took her share and had the French Ambassador knight him as a result. It is good to know all on board the ship even to the cabin boys everyone had a share!

From 2012 – 10.02.2012 – Thames Path – South Bank – Greenwich Walk

We then passed by the large “Southwark Cathedral”, which we unable to visit. This building has been in various shapes and forms over the years, since 1215. The original Norman church St Mary Overie, was badly damaged in a fire in 1212 and the Church was rebuilt. It seems a little of the Norman Church can still be seen today, unfortunately we did not have to investigate… Leaving a Cathedral behind, we were then faced by the mighty battleship – the HMS Belfast. This ship looks daunting in the daylight, and I can only imagine what a sight she would have been patrolling the sea during wartime!

Continuing on we walked past the City Hall, a lovely glass office building. As someone has quite rightly nicknamed it “the beehive”, as I would agree it does look like one! We walked on past Tower Bridge, which is opposite to the Tower where I had walked previously. The path took us away from the riverside into this very narrow street known as the “Shad Thames”.

From 2012 – 10.02.2012 – Thames Path – South Bank – Greenwich Walk

The “Shad Thames”, is one of the remaining examples of how the docklands used to be like. Wrought iron bridges spanning the street between two warehouses. These bridges used to enable dockers transfer goods such as spices and teas between ships and warehouses. From what I could see the bridges only seem to provide a lovely place to sit outside! The path took us back to the riverside again to take us past the London Design Museum. We did notice a Jasper Conran exhibit outside, which contained a sofa and chairs, really did look inviting after the walking we had been doing!

The path then took us past the remains of Edward III’s manor house, sadly all you can see is the outline of the building 😦 . We continued on to go past “King’s Stairs Gardens”, the park has this name because King Edward III used the stairs to access his manor house on from here! Currently there is a campaign to ensure these gardens to stay open. We left 14th Century history to be faced with 19th Century history “Brunel’s Engine house”, the original pumping station for the Thames Tunnel which was officially opened in 1846. In fact the Thames Tunnel project is the only time which both Brunels (father Marc and son Isambard) collaborated together. It was good to see something of Brunel after I had crossed his viaduct near Llanelli!

By the riverside we came across the statue “Sunbeam Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket”. The statue partially depicts that it was from this point that the Pilgrim Fathers in the Mayflower, originally started out their journey here before stopping in Plymouth. We carried on to “Lavender Pond”. The pond and the historic pumphouse took the name from the “Lavender Docks”, which was closed and eventually filled in during 1970. As we walked on we both heard some very strange noises…. Our ears were not deceiving us, yes we could hear sheep! We had come across Surrey Docks Farm. Sadly we could not visit as it was closed, but I did rather like the bronze animal statues that were outside!

From 2012 – 10.02.2012 – Thames Path – South Bank – Greenwich Walk

The path took us across an old wharf, which is now a residential area. The old warehouses are quite visible today, despite being converted into flats. The evidence of this being an dockyard really lay with the “Gauge House”, a tiny hut where the dockers on duty would be watching the Thames tides. At this point we left the Thames Path, particularly was we both needed some tea! The walk took us through Deptford and onto Greenwich, where we stopped for a while.

We walked past “Greenwich Station”, where we had finished one of our earlier walks and on to Greenwich Riverside. It was here we encountered the Cutty Sark. It was so nice to see so much progress had been made since our last visit when it was under wraps! As we reached the riverside this was really the end of the walk as we were to continue to North Greenwich and the O2. The one thing that really struck me was GMT timeline had become a green laser light across the river!

Please feel free to browse the photos for the afternoon’s walk –

2012 – 10.02.2012 – Thames Path – South Bank – Greenwich Walk

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6 responses to “Thames Path – South Bank – Greenwich Walk – 10.02.2012

  1. Pingback: Thames Path – St Katherine’s Dock – London Wall « Karen's Sponsored Walks

  2. Pingback: South West Coast Path – Berry Head – Churston Cove – 26.05.2012 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

  3. Very energetic post, I liked that a lot. Will there
    be a part 2?

  4. Pingback: Richmond – Teddington Walk – 28.04.2013 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

  5. Pingback: London Walk – Liverpool Street – Victoria – 05.04.2014 « Karen's Sponsored Walks

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