Thames Path: Day 3: London Bridge to Lambeth Bridge


London Bridge –– Southwark –Bermondsey  – South Bank – Waterloo- Westminster – Lambeth

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River

If day one and day two were about a London riverside in development, day three was about a riverside that belongs to tourists, and the day started as it meant to go on with at least five different “river fun runs” underway. It didn’t help that it was a Sunday either. Crowds of tourists of all nationalities, strings and strings of riverside runners, and hustle and bustle. This wasn’t the Thames that we saw the day before. It took some negotiation to make our way along the riverside at this point. So many runners and tourists!

Hays Galleria

Exiting London Bridge station takes you directly into Hays Galleria, a large shopping center for tourists, mostly.

London Bridge

The London Bridge. Not very spectacular, is it? However there are many other much more impressive bridges all within a short distance of one another along this stretch of the Thames

Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral is the first major point of interest after you cross London Bridge. Parts of it date back to the 12th century and its well worth a visit if you have time. We didn’t….to busy dodging all the pesky joggers!

Like Greenwich, Southwark is steeped in history and you could easily spend half a day looking around. We hustled past the second of the historic ships that weekend. First the Cutty Sark in Greenwich, and here the Golden Hind.

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Passing Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind….past more of those joggers….

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Southwark Bridge with St Paul’s Cathedral in the background

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Every inch of the city seemed alive in this section of town on a Sunday. Even the banks of the Thames, exposed at low tide, were covered in people. This crowd seemed to be “mudlarking” (searching through the mud for buried treasures.)

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Further down the bank at Southwark is the Globe Theatre, a marvelous reconstruction of Shakespeare’s original Globe Theatre. One of these days I would love to see a performance there.

Millennium Bridge

A little further along from the Globe Theatre, the Millennium Bridge comes into view. Built in 2000 as the name suggests, this pedestrian bridge goes from the South Bank to the heart of the city and St Paul’s Cathedral

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Another diversion….had to cross the Millennium Bridge as I had never done it before. Great view down the Thames!

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Looking back to Tower Bridge

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Yep…yet more people. Millennium Bridge was packed. That’s what you get for going out on a Sunday!

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Back on the South Bank heading towards Waterloo

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Around the South Bank there are so many activities going on. This is the skateboarding park under the bridge

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At the Royal Festival Hall. London Eye coming up in the distance

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Street entertainers galore. These guys were doing a trick bicycle routine opposite the houses of parliament. But there were also singers, mime artists and jugglers….tourist heaven!

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Close up on the London Eye

Houses of Parliament

A better view of the Houses of Parliament

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Finally as we passed under Lambeth Bridge, a view of Lambeth Palace, home to the Archbishop of Canterbury and the end to the day’s excursion

We ended Day 3 in the area where tourist London also drops off. Further down the river, away from the main attractions, there will still be crowded riverside days at weekends, but it will mostly be Londoners, not tourists, that we will come across. However, when we pick the trail again from Lambeth Bridge, I imagine it won’t be until 2015. You never know, but I don’t think I can make it back to the UK next year, but I look forward to picking up the trail again…. watch this space!

Thames Path: Day 2: Greenwich to London Bridge


Greenwich – Deptford – Surrey Docks – Butlers Wharf – Tower Bridge – London Bridge

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Day two picked up where we left off at the Cutty Sark near Greenwich Pier. There’s so much to see and do in Greenwich, and its hard to walk through London and not stop at 101 different worthy distractions. The previous day’s planned distance was reduced considerably in reality, as it simply too much fun to stop and look at everything. It quickly became clear that the London section of the walk was going to be more about exploring riverside activities than truly hiking away the miles, which was just fine with me.

 Royal Observatory Greenwich

The Royal Observatory Greenwich — home of Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) — only got a fleeting glance from us….

So, before we got very far along the Greenwich riverbank we stopped and explored the Greenwich Foot Tunnel that takes pedestrians underneath the Thames to the opposite bank.  Its a pretty cool experience and tiring too if you decide to take the stairs rather the lift shaft.

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

Looking back at the Cutty Sark as we headed westward down the river. The dome on the right is the entrance to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel on the South bank. (There’s a matching dome on the North Bank too.)

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Inside the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. Originally built as a pedestrian shortcut for workers over 100 years ago, its now a unique way to cross the Thames

As we were committed to the South Bank, we crossed back again and re-commenced our journey westward.  Deptford came up on us quickly.  Its a less developed, neglected part of the city, and the path took us away from the riverside and into 1960’s urban sprawl.

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Riverside signage in Deptford.  A stark contrast to earlier signs along the Thames…

Although our walk took us down past some less attractive areas of town,  Deptford isn’t without it history or charms. It was also a Saturday, and the first day of the annual London Open House weekend, which I learnt meant that participating private residences or places of interest not normally open to the public were opening their doors so the likes of us could come and have a quick poke around. I had forgotten all about it, but as we walked down the back streets of Deptford, this gate beckoned us forth:

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Normally closed to the public, the current resident of The Master Shipwrights House had opened his doors to anyone wishing to take a look around…

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…so we took time out to do so.  It had attracted quite a large crowd of people and we all wandered around his home that was a mixture of history and every day living. I think the boys enjoyed it despite Latham’s yawn!

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Obviously the house was in need of repairs, but historical upgrades are expensive and funds clearly weren’t there. But the house was sound and they had used the exposed walls and floorboards as part of the integral design. Interesting.

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Outside they had used the garden’s riverside frontage to invite local historical societies and interest groups to give talks on various subjects….

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…including a display of different salvaged treasures from the Thames, I think.

We spent a good hour in there, but eventually returned to the riverside trail, heading westward towards a series of quays.  If yesterday was about old industrial sites meeting new modern trendy London, today was about the quay.  Small marinas and quays were strung out in successions for the next couple of miles.

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Crossing one of the many quays in the area.

The last one along this stretch was Surrey Quay, which unexpectedly hosted an organic garden and petting zoo, which seemed like a pleasant place to stop and grab some lunch. They are all set up for toddlers and finger food, but the adult organic restaurant was very good and we enjoyed the animals too!  An unexpected find in London!Surrey Docks Farm

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Surrey Docks Farm has its ducks all in a row!

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One of many lonely, crumbling jetties still standing….

The rest of the day’s walk took us past the start of some upmarket housing developments, perched alongside some of London’s older abandoned jetties.  Canary Wharf made a final appearance behind us as we turned the bend onto the final stretch towards Tower Bridge.  Reaching Butler’s Wharf was the start of tourist London, fancy restaurants, and trendy shopping.  Quite a change from just a mile or two up the river.

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Canary Wharf

A last glimpse of Canary Wharf

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Not sure quite what this was, but loved it for what it is now…sort of a piece of river art

This day’s photo journal wouldn’t be complete without a picture of our penultimate destination – Tower Bridge – not to be confused with London Bridge our final stop on Day Two, and just a short half mile away.

Yay!  Tower Bridge!

Yay! Tower Bridge!