London 25th Anniversary Walk: South East London

Sat 12th Sep 2020

Walk Details:

Event Type
Group Walk
Region
Southern England
Local Group
London
Distance
13, 11 or 6ml.
Start Time
11:30
Route
North Greenwich Finish: St James Park (at 5pm)

Historic Thames Waterfronts. A walk from North Greenwich to historic Greenwich and its Park & London viewpoints, before crossing the river to Londonís old docklands and towers of Canary Wharf, rejoining the waterfronts and Thames Path into central London to St James Park. This route can be joined at the start or along the route at Greenwich at 12:15pm (11 mile option) or Canary Wharf at 14:15pm (6mile option)

General Notes
London LDWA group is 25 years old! To celebrate we are holding a series of walks inside & outside of London, with a celebratory cheers and socially distanced photo at the end! Look out for the registration email for details on how to book. Limited to 12 people who must pre register
Finish

Entry Details:

Cost

Walk Report

London 25th Anniversary Walk: South-East London, Saturday 12th September 2020
10 walkers, 13 miles - leader Paul Lawrence
This walk took us westwards from the O2 to St James Park and reprised a few events and walks that were significant in the origins and history of the London Group.
The route from the O2 as far as Limehouse Basin was along the Thames Path to Greenwich with a circuit into Greenwich Park and then after passing the Cutty Sark it used the foot tunnel went through Canary Wharf. This was used in the opposite direction by the LDWA 2012 Games 100 in the Olympic year, except that the 100 did not go into Greenwich Park. By using the foot tunnel, the Games 100 became the only LDWA 100 to go below sea level! London Group was the instigator of this 100, that involved five LDWA Groups working together (London with BBN, Surrey, Kent, Thames Valley). It started within sight of the Olympic Stadium and ended in Windsor on the day of the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebration. It linked five of the 2012 Olympic venues, including the 02, Greenwich Park and Woolwich Barracks. East of the 02, the Games 100 went to the Thames Barrier, south on the Green Chain and Capital Ring, west on the North Downs Way past the cycle race location at Box Hill, then visiting LDWA Founders sites in Surrey - it was the LDWA's 40th Year - to end in Windsor. For the main 100 walk, the weather turned wet and cold on the Sunday, the day of the Thames royal boat pageant. There was a minor Games 100 checkpoint at the 02 by one of the towers to stop short-cuts across the Peninsula!
For this 25th walk, we entered the foot tunnel with some trepidation as this was an enclosed space with a lot of people, but everyone was wearing face masks and we moved rapidly through and it has a good ventilation system. None of the walkers has reported any symptoms since anyway! Nor did any choose the option of using the DLR here to Island Gardens. North of the Foot Tunnel, the walk passed the site of the first checkpoint on the Games 100, at Millwall Rugby Club under the arches next to Island Gardens DLR station. This had been the scene of a minor event crisis when their water supply was cut off the night before the event and we were bailed out by the local store with their bottled water. Walking under the office towers in Canary Wharf, few people were about and we wondered about its future.
The next section from Limehouse Basin to the Dickens Inn was a reprise in reverse of parts of the first listed evening walk on 17 August 1994 by the newly forming London LDWA group. Led by Steve Clarke, it was listed in Strider 69 (August 1994). This was before the group was formally constituted on 10 September 1995, 25 years ago! Steve Clarke, who was then Strider Editor, was one of the founders of the London Group. Two more anniversary walks for the Group's 15th in 2009 and 20th in 2014 here, led by Rob Myers, used a similar route. Steve Clarke's walk had started from the Dickens Inn and went through Wapping, calling at two riverside pubs, probably the "Town of Ramsgate" and "The Prospect of Whitby". The original London members were very keen on meeting at pubs! However, for this 25th walk, I preferred to use the Ornamental Canal option rather than the Thames Path that in this section is mainly along streets often with no river views. Along the Ornamental Canal we passed the location of a sequence in the James Bond film, The World Is Not Enough, where Bond chases an assassin in a speedboat around London canals, soaking two traffic wardens at a tight corner!
A common thread of this walk up to the Pool of London was the watermark of the history of London as a port. This started with small ships unloaded on the riverbank, but by about 1700 it was taking up to six weeks to turn a ship around. The docks were dug out to provide more quayside space, followed by the addition of locks to remove the dependency of unloading on the tides. Finally, the arrival of container ships moved the docks down river and elsewhere, and the docklands went into decline and decay for many years until they were redeveloped as new office locations and residential neighbourhoods. The future is now again uncertain as offices may not be needed in the same way after Covid and London may again see great changes before the Group gets to its 50th!
Reaching Tower Bridge, we crossed to the south bank passing familiar London sites on our way to St James Park. The Tower of London, City Hall, the Globe Theatre, Millennium Footbridge, South Bank and its skate park all passed rapidly, with the Thames re-crossed into the Embankment Gardens with it statuary to reach the rendezvous with the other LDWA walkers in St James Park and a welcome toast in prosecco to another 25 years! After the celebrations, some of us used the Thames Clipper boat service to return to the O2 in the fading light to finish off an enjoyable day!
For route notes see downloadable report.
Photographs by Paul Lawrence; more by Julie Welch on the Group Facebook site. More on this link: LondonLDWA25thWalks2020 https://photos.app.goo.gl/ABCC9PDpSdoUakn6A

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Contains Ordnance Survey data © Crown copyright and database right 2016.
© OpenStreetMap contributors under Open Database Licence.
Rights of way data from selected Local Authorities.
Large scale digital mapping is provided by John Thorn.