Thames Path in London

One of the things I haven’t managed to catch up on since my enforced break is the big pile of new-release books on my desk. I guess if you’ve got a book about Greenwich /London to publish, if you’re not doing it now you’ve pretty much missed the boat (doesn’t bode well for Olde Phantom’s Greenwich Almanack, but hey…) and everyone’s published everything at once. If I see one more ‘quirky things you never knew about London’ gift book (which, of course, with a couple of noteable exceptions, never has real quirky stuff in it), I’m going to scream.

This one, though, is overdue. I’ve been using the old Ordnance Survey Thames Path guide (London) for bloomin’ yonks and it’s really out of date, not least because it runs out at the Barrier.

This new one hasn’t quite kept up with the closures/openings/closures of our bit of path (the only bit I’m bothered about in this review, frankly. Hey – I’m the Greenwich Phantom – the Chelsea Phantom can do his own section…) but since us locals can’t even keep up I don’t hold them to account for that.

I see they’ve just given up on the Lovells Wharf bit of path ever re-opening – there’s a big yellow line marking the tedious detour everyone has had to do for bloomin’ years now. Though I do note that there’s actual work going on now. If they really are getting on with building, I’m fine with that – it was only when the site lay derelict for years and the path just led to the marketing suite that I was really mad.

I followed the path round the Peninsula the other day, using the guide. I smiled at the words ‘particularly shiny new flats’ in regard to the Lovells Wharf development – not because they’re not shiny but because this path has already taken the determined trudger through miles and miles of identikit shiny new builds through Chelsea, Battersea, Vauxhall etc (one-road deep, of course – no real regeneration has happened behind the facade…)- I’m not sure what makes Lovells Wharf flats ‘particularly’ shiny in comparison, but I’m flattered on behalf of South East London.

The guide does say the path around Lovells Wharf is ‘marked’ as temporary – but it doesn’t sound hopeful at any imminent reopening.

Perhaps it’s space in a small guide but the next mile is dealt with in a single sentence, which is a shame – an almost derelict space, but fascinating in its own way. Again, I note there is ‘stuff’ going on – not sure what it is – the cruise terminal, perhaps? Dunno.

Something that isn’t going on is anything – either constructive or just securative (another new word for you, Roger…) – is with poor old Enderby House. It’s not the most glorious of old houses that have ever been on this stretch of water, but it is historic, and it is the only bloomin’ one left. At some point I need to get round to talking about the whole Enderby thing – but if you can’t wait I will only be reinventing Mary Mill’s superb wheel in the form of Greenwich Marsh – The 300 years Before the Dome.

You can’t quite see from this photo, but the poor old place has been badly vandalised – unsurprising for something so isolated, and hardly a shock when you realise that the front door has been left wide open – and has been like that for at least two years.

Sundry community uses have been suggested for it, but I can’t help thinking that the owners have deliberately left it in this disgraceful state so that they can argue the only thing left to do is demolish it.

But moving on. At least the aggregates yard is still working, and you still have to heed the guide book when it tells you to keep a look out for heavy vehicles.

The bit of the Path that gets you to the west side of the O2 is currently closed (not mentioned in the guidebook, it’s pretty recent) – I don’t know why, but it’s an irritation – I can’t see anything much wrong with it. You have to go round past the Police Olympic compound, but although they give you Paddington hard-stares, they don’t bother you if you walk/cycle past.

The guide book is now up to date enough to say the 02 is not the Millennium Dome any more but the O2, ‘one of Europe’s most sucessful music venues’ – I suppose it just wasn’t worth mentioning that it is currently the North Greenwich Arena (the best name for it yet, in my humble…)

The east side of the path is pretty well described, though of course there’s no mention of the cable car. Things are moving fast round these parts and even the Ordnance Survey can’t be expected to keep up that fast.

What makes this guide actually worth replacing your old one with is that it now covers not just Woolwich, the arsenal etc. (in the same, fairly shallow way as the rest of the path – fair enough – who wants to carry the London Encyclopaedia around with them on a forty mile hike?) It’s handy to describe how to get round various bits to Crayford Ness, though I confess that the further east you get the less interrupted the path is, until the very end when you have to make a very long deour around the river Darrent and, by which point when I did it, on a freezing February afternoon, I gave up, continued into Dartford and, um, got a train back.

The guide book doesn’t even bother to do that – they collapse at Slade Green. But then they have come all the way, through several volumes, from grid reference ST980994…

the attachments to this post:

enderby house low
enderby house low

Thames path book
Thames path book

6 Comments to “Thames Path in London”

  1. Meirion says:

    The Dome is the The Dome is The Dome – and that’s what North Greenwich station should be called too. Enough of your O2s and North Greenwich Arenas. Enderby House is a great building – wasn’t the window supposed to have been built like that so that the Enderbys could watch their South Atlantic whalers sailing back into Greenwich 180 years ago and rush out to meet their captains with their latest discoveries? “Mr Enderby sir, I’ve just named half of Antarctica after you, and a few islands and a mountain after myself, hope that’s all right” “”Thank you Mr Biscoe – that’s all very well but have you caught all the whales yet?”. I thought in November the Cruise Ship Terminal people were supposed to start building on the site and preserve Enderby House as a tourist cafe in part of their development. And on the subject of station names Elverson Rd on the DLR should be Coldbath Street.

  2. Aidan says:

    I know it’s not entirely relevant, but if you complain about the closures of the Thames path on this side of the river, it’s worse on the other side. I decided to try it when cycling home yesterday and it seems to stop in several places where car parks have been allowed to be built on it for the many ‘shiney new flats’ on that side.

  3. Aiden – are you not allowed to go through the car parks? I know there’s one block of flats that has a gate that DOES have entry through their gardens and through a sort of arch-thing, that they HAVE to keep open, up near Narrow Street (might be ON Narrow St). I take great pleasure in very ostentatiously opening said gate, going through and making sure it’s clear I’m doing so. There is nothing they would like better for people not to go through it – if they can prove no one’s gone through for 12 years they can officially close it – someone did it to a footpath down my parents’ road in the 1980s – put a gate either end, which other people avoided because it was closed – and the public footpath is now part of the bad person’s garden.

    Always go through any gate that looks locked – and report to the Ramblers any gates that ARE locked.

  4. JOF says:

    When the Lovell’s Wharf issue reappeared in a Phantom post in April, I tried writing to someone other than Greenwich Council about it. I wrote to Mayor Boris pointing out that this stretch of Thames Path should be reinstated as an important link between Olympic venues at Greenwich Park, the Dome and ExCeL, but got no response, the disadvantage perhaps of a non-London address. I also wrote to the National Trails organisation who expressed sympathy and awareness of the situation, but they had no powers other than to chivvy Greenwich Council. All a bit dispiriting.

  5. RogerW says:

    Hmmm: ‘securative’ is good :)
    I also learned a new one the night I went to see “Motor Show” at West Parkside, as part of GDIF.
    I got there early. A security guy told me, “You can’t come in yet, it’s still a sterile site”
    I just had to ask him to say it again, simply to make sure I’d heard him correctly

  6. Abi says:

    Hello – An interesting review – there are also new versions of the Capital Ring and the London LOOP books out this year. This Thames Path in London book uses Ordnance Survey map extracts inside it – hence the small OS logo on the front cover of the book – but I don’t think it is published by OS? Books like this tend to have a small print run and be republished and reviewed every few years, so what they have written about Lovell’s Wharf etc is probably right for the lifetime of the book. And Greenwich Council are ultimately the ones responsible for the path (imagine if 2 bodies were both responsible!!!) so yes, sometimes it is only up to one organisation to chivvy another (and also get frustrated in the process with lack of responses). If you walk all the way to the Bexley / Kent boundary you can keep going on the London LOOP ;)