Woolwich to Wapping in ten river crossings

Pigeon taking in
the view in the fog

Three jubilee line tunnels, two DLR tunnels, two foot tunnels, one Brunel tunnel, a ferry and a cable car comprised my quest to use all of the river crossings between Wapping and Woolwich.
[As ever if you click on a photo you can scroll through them full sized]

Well, they would have if I hadn’t forgotten about the ferry between Canary Wharf and the Hilton in Rotherhithe, and the Rotherhithe and Blackwall tunnels, so instead I’ve rebranded my journey as ‘all the river crossings which are not life limiting for pedestrians which have interchanges with other crossings or TfL infrastructure and are specifically for the purpose of crossing the river’.

Wapping riverside

Having taken a day off work, I was keen to get going but then started to think that maybe my plans were somewhat ill formed when I opened the blind and saw a thick fog covering Wapping. However, off I went to take advantage of the opportunity of some fog photography, walking along the river, before discovering that the management of ‘Towerside’ had decided it a sensible idea to lock the gate that provides access to the river, so I doubled back on myself and again to get to Wapping Station.

Shortly after I found myself outside Bromley-by-Bow station, a station which only resonates in my mind because Walford replaces it on the Eastenders fictionalised tube map. Visiting somewhere I’ve never been  in the fog provided its challenges with respect of navigation but at the same time also meant that there was a limited number of abandoned, derelict buildings that I could see at any one time.

Despite the inauspicious start this was a quite enjoyable walk, quite possibly because of the fog – genuinely exploring step by step, taking in and experiencing the sounds of London. Wandering around Three Mills in the fog, discovering countless paths that lead nowhere and then stumbling upon the fantastic ‘Wild Kingdom’ play area, accessed through a metal doorway that sits isolated by the side of the canal and decorated by recovered stones from the Euston arch that had previously been thrown into the canal but now strewn around like the blocks of a lost civilisation.

Winding my way towards West Ham station I had hoped to walk through parkland but instead found myself walking through suburban housing, an unexpected detour as a result of the installation of a new water main. Up onto the Greenway I strolled and found a blank fogged landscape.

At West Ham I boarded the DLR to Woolwich Arsenal, my first river crossing, and then wandered over to the foot tunnel. Spiralling down the stairs, I walked alone for the entire length of the tunnel whistling songs from Les Mis to spur me on. Back on the north side of the river, I sat and waited by an abandoned Free Ferry slip, its floodgate closed as the Ferry sat out of sight in Woolwich waiting for the fog to lift.

30 minutes later the shape of a chimney came into sight and five minutes later the fog had gone and the sun shone.

Three crossings down, I marched on along the river before…finding that the Thames Path ended abruptly. I cut across the grounds of a block of flats and found Charlton’s premier entertainment venue ‘St Clairs’. Next stop was a potter around the Thames Barrier visitor centre followed by lunch in the café before walking through some fascinating industrial sites to the Emirates cable car at North Greenwich, before doubling back on myself again via the Jubilee line through two tunnels to Canary Wharf. A dash to Heron Quays and the DLR to Island Gardens where I crossed the road and then down the wooden panelled lift of the Greenwich foot tunnel. Past the Cutty Sark and then back on the DLR to Heron Quays where I boarded the Jubilee line train to Canada Water and then the Overground through the Thames Tunnel to Wapping.

Bromley-by-Bow

Derelict buildings near the Bow roundabout

Dang. So handsome.

Ground floor and hole in the ground

Not a very auspicious start

Clock Mill

Welcome to Wonderland

A rescued stone from the Euston Arch

The Addams Family Abbey Mills Pumping Station

A very grey Greenway

Woolwich DLR tunnel

Part of an Iraqi super gun from the first Gulf War

First Gormley installation of the day

Woolwich riverside

Woolwich Foot tunel

Opening the flood gate (literally)

Ferry slip road

Taste the Sunshine

A dry dock

Yet again my path is blocked

St Clair’s: members and VIPs only (luxury rooms £25 per night)

The Wild East

The legendary bagel tree of Charlton-cum-Greenwich

Wickerman?

Gormley number two

Greenwich foot tunnel

Over enthusiastic sunbathing: the British disease

Canary Wharf

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