Thames Barrier Park

Pontoon Dock

I haven’t been on a local ‘excursion’ for ages – but yesterday was sunny and bright and I wanted something different.

I’d noticed the strange lines of undulating hedges of the Thames Barrier Park from the DLR; I thought it would be fun to walk among them. After all, we can’t be sure how many warm, sunny Sundays we have left.

I entred via those hedges – a living scuplture called Green Dock by Alain Cousseran and Alain Provost – who I could have sworn was a racing driver ;-) – past some fountains which, I’m happy to say, were playing at 11.00 on a Sunday morning (so many features like that get quietly turned off after the grand opening.)

I wandered up and down beautiful – and slightly unsettling, not sure why – lines of alternating hedges (a bit on the fluffy side just now, they could do with a haircut) planted with good late-summer flowers, towards what I assumed was a viewing point at the end.

It’s a surreal walk once you get down amongst those hedges, which are much higher than they look from above – with an almost Alice In Wonderland feel to it. It wouldn’t surprise me to see the White Rabbit run out, looking at his pocket watch, or to look down another row and see the Mad Hatter having a tea party. Under the hedge, a caterpiller on a mushroom would be puffing away at a dodgy-looking concoction in a hookah. Of course, if I looked again, they’d be gone…

The weird Green Dock is my favourite bit, but I was staggered when I got to the top and realised that the weird hedges are just a tiny bit of this modern park. Yes, there are dramatic views of the barrier:

but there are also wide spaces, a little wilderness area, places for organised sport or a kickabout, and a kiddie’s playground.

I had a coffee on the decking outside the cafe – I’m savouring each outdoor coffee I can get these days. I suspect it will be cosy behind those giant plate-glass walls in in the crisp Autumn mornings to come.

This is not a ‘day out’ in itself, but it’s a nice thing to do for different – a goal on a Thames Path walk, perhaps, or a quick trip along the DLR.

Opening hours are here.

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