Godalming & Haslemere Ramblers

We met outside Canary Wharf tube station by the west exit facing the DLR. Though we were in the midst of tall buildings it was surprisingly windy. We zipped up our jackets. Two people on the train were nowhere in sight. A phone call to one revealed they were waiting at another exit. Fortunately someone knew the area and went in search. He reappeared ten minutes later with them.

Once we set off we gradually warmed up. The wind died down and we shed our jackets. Much of the time we walked in sunshine. (21 total, 6 visitors) We headed south, crossed a footbridge over West India Docks and walked past Millwall Inner Dock to reach Mudchute Park and Farm. At 32 acres this is the largest urban farm in Europe. It’s on the site of the spoil from the creation of the Millwall Docks in the 1860s. Over time this became a wildlife habitat.

Reaching the south side of the Isle of Dogs we paused to look over the Thames towards Greenwich. This view, our leader informed us, was painted by Canaletto in the mid 1700s. (A View of Greenwich from the River) From here we could see the Cutty Sark (last surviving and fastest and greatest tea clipper of her time) and the Old Royal Naval College (architect Sir Christopher Wren), and in the distance the Royal Observatory and the statue of James Wolfe (1727–1759, victor of Quebec). Two cranes marred the scene.

We then walked under the Thames on the Greenwich Foot Tunnel (opened 1902); the energetic of us used the stairs. Emerging into daylight at the other end, we paused to look at the Cutty Sark before turning east to the ORNC, now the University of Greenwich. There was much activity in the grounds. We walked under the crane and stepped over cables before officials spotted us and told us to move away. The building was being used for a film set (The Curse of Hendon). The crane held a huge spotlight which swayed slightly in the wind. The Painted Hall was out of bounds. A rehearsal in the chapel prevented our walk round that.

We continued on past the National Maritime Museum and walked through Greenwich Park to the Royal Observatory (founded by Charles II in 1675, home of Greenwich Mean Time at and the Prime Meridian Line, built to improve navigation at sea). By now it was 12.55 so we waited for the red Time Ball on top of Flamsteed House to rise then descend at 13.00 before we continued on to Blackheath and our stop for lunch.

After lunch we returned to Greenwich via Greenwich Park and Maze Hill to walk past Greenwich Power Station, a gas-fired power station supplying electricity to the underground. On a wall facing the Thames were a collection of sculptures installed in 2000. Next to this was Trinity Hospital, the oldest surviving building in Greenwich town centre, founded in 1617 as almshouses and still in use.

Continuing along the side of the Thames we soon reached the Cutty Sark again where seven of us stopped for refreshment before heading for the DLR back to Canary Wharf and home. It was a memorable day out.

Here are some photos of our day.

Saturday, December 15, 2018