A pootle around the Surrey Docks

Previously on the blog I had a little wander from Greenwich to Surrey Quays and today I decided to continue my meandering south of the River.
Leaving Surrey Quays station, you aren’t really greeted with one of the great vistas of London, unless you’re a big fan of Tesco car parks. However, I understand from @suzmorana that this Tesco has a good range of overpriced US imports.

Heading down Redriff Road, you come to an old dockers’ shelter, where day labourers would wait for the ‘call-on’ for work and now adorned with a mural of life in the docks and the history of the area (description here). One of the few buildings of the docks that have survived, it sits alone, like a train station in the Wild West, waiting for the railroad to be built but serving little purpose at present.

 There is an information board, but it was covered in snow, and without gloves I could only face clearing half of it. When it’s warmer I’ll return and see what I could have found out.

This walk soon turned out to be a regular home from home for a resident of Wapping, with a few bascule bridges remaining, although this one exists only as a footpath next to a new road along the back of the shopping centre.

Walking up and over the bridge, I came to Greenland Dock, the largest remaining dock from the Surrey Docks and dates back to the end of the 17th century and predates the London docks by just over a century.
The housing around the dock is familiar in style to that seen around the in filled London Docks in Wapping (the London Docklands Development Corporation was responsible for both).
Baltic Quay
Baltic Quay
Dominating the skyline and sat on the adjacent South Dock is Baltic Quay, which to me is named very aptly, as it reminded me of Soviet era buildings that Frédéric Chaubin captured in his book CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed. It’s an interesting building and I like its style, but I’m glad it’s not in Wapping.
Parallels with Wapping continue. Whilst north of the river we have a bust of John Rennie, Greenland Dock has one of James Walker, the engineer responsible for the expansion of Greenland Dock.

At the end of the Dock we find the Moby Dick pub, named for the whaling industry that once existed in the area (more here). The pub proudly sports a sign stating that it has a quiz that has run for 11 years.

 One of the nice touches in the regeneration of the Greenland Dock is that it retains the rails from the dock cranes, and rails can be found elsewhere in the area.

One highlight of the walk was spotting a Pearly King and Queen, and I managed to snap the King, who is hidden in the picture below:

Heading north, I found the ‘Russia Docks Woodland’, which have been created from an in filled dock and landscaped in a more interesting way that Wapping Woods.

As I walked through the woods, which make for a short, but pleasant walk, I spotted a sign to ‘Downtown’. I have no idea what Downtown is as I certainly didn’t find anything resembling Manhatten when I followed it out of curiosity.

They have some fancy benches in the wood, which reminded me of our own invisible bench in Wapping.

The famous invisible bench

 Soon after, I stumbled upon Russia Dock’s own Mr Burns the heron.

Moving towards Stave Hill I came to a sort of play area with various sculptures and had apparently won an award for a safe play area, despite having various stakes sticking up in the area. I can only think that I was brought up wrapped in cotton wool by my parents, as I was never allowed to play with industrial salvage, but that was the depressed north for you.
Children’s play area

I arrived at Stave Hill, unsure how I was supposed to climb to the top, though fortunately I decided to walk round, as I found some steps, which made climbing the muddy escarpment a bit easier. The photo below doesn’t do it full justice, as my lens makes it look flatter than it is, but despite its relative elevation, it is never noticeable as you walk through the woods.

At the top is a nice bronze showing the layout of the Surrey Docks before they were closed.

There is a good view of London, not as high as at Greenwich Park, but benefits from being closer to the centre of London, and you can see the skyline of The City, bits of Wapping, Canary Wharf and the Olympic Park

St George in the East and Metropolitan Wharf.
The City

The Orbit

For the duration of my walk I was stalked by this pack of lethal chihuahuas, though I wasn’t quite sure if carrying one whilst walking counts as taking it for a walk. I’m not sure how many chihuahuas get walked round the Pepys estate I wandered through on my last walk.
Giant plughole

Surrey Water

You’ll be glad to know that the poor signage south of the river continues, though this one although heavily faded was pointing in the right directions.

I ended my walk at Surrey Water, immediately across the river from the Prospect of Whitby and unlike Wapping, still has its gasometer. I caught the 381 bus to Tower Bridge Road and walked back to Wapping.

The spelling in the photo below is not mine – I hope it is from a foreign visitor from the nearby Youth Hostel.

Heart Londen 2013
Heart Londen 2013
If you want some more historical information about my walk, see this BBC website from the programme Coast.

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