Friday, November 16

In the docks

Last Sunday was such a beautiful day that I decided to take the bike down to the Royal Docks in east London for a bit of exploring. In fact the original idea was to head down the south bank of the Thames towards Erith, but I revised my plans as I approached south London's famous new 'transport link' (tourist attraction), the cable car.

Been meaning to try this out ever since it opened, but had been waiting for the right combination of lack of queues and good weather. Sunday delivered both, plus I was on my bike - surprisingly the ideal scenario for a trip on the cable car. It's free to take a bike on, and to get it in the cabin they have to fold up one of the benches, it's a bit of a faff. The benefit is that you don't have to share your cabin with anyone else, which is bloody great!

The trip was exhilarating and terrifying in equal measures, I can be a bit of a scaredy cat at heights if I let my panic take hold. Best to just look out to the distance and take lots of photographs!

Looking east along the south of the Thames

Big tent with pointy yellow poles

The mouth of the River Lea, looking towards west London (Olympic site on the right)

Over on the other side of the river there's not a great deal to see - a load of apartments, the Excel Centre, a dash of regeneration but still plenty of urban dereliction. And you know how I love a bit of urban dereliction.

Cranes in the Royal Victoria Dock

Millennium Mills

Victoria Docks Footbridge - showing its age at close quarters
I circled the docks a couple of times, checked out the various bridges, and then headed to the river to inspect Thames Barrier Park and take a look at our famous flood barrier from the other side of the Thames. Like the bridge, the park is quite lovely but needing some TLC - they are both about the same age, built at the arse-end of the Docklands regeneration era and now a little neglected.

Thames Barrier Park with the barrier in the background
From the Victoria Docks I headed west and then peeled off the main drag to the wonderful little oasis of Trinity Buoy Wharf  which is well worth a visit if you are out that way. The road leading to the end of the peninsula is littered with street art and signs telling the history of the wharf, a lot of which is still derelict and overgrown, but full of atmosphere and wildlife. At the end you find a whole host of peculiar things - container city (where people live and work in old shipping containers), an old lighthouse where you can listen to Longplayer (a piece of music intended to run for 1,000 years, so don't worry you can nip back if you miss it the first time, or you can even listen live via the website), the Faraday Effect (a tiny museum about Michael Faraday) and various other arty and quirky things.

The Alunatime clock particularly appealed to my inner geek - it's related to the proposal to build a lunar clock in Greenwich, in my opinion much better looking than the main proposal. It has three rings of lights which change with the tide and phases of the moon. On the outer ring you can see the current phase of the moon, whether it's waxing or waning; the middle circle (I think) shows the current position of the moon, and the inner circle shows the level of the tide, which you can check by looking over the wall at the river.

Most of these attractions are open regularly, but they also host open days when you can visit some of the other studios and homes - worth signing up to the mailing list on the website if you want to find out when the next one is. Sometimes they run a ferry from the dome on the other side of the river, which sounds like fun to me!

Also worth knowing that Fatboy's Diner (shouldn't that be Fatbuoy's Diner?!) is open on Sundays if you want a mid bike-ride snack of pastrami on rye or a chilli burger with fries and a shake.


Gareth Gardner said...

Lovely photos! I must take a trip to trinity buoy wharf - perhaps the next open day?

colleen said...

I've promised my mum that we will go on the cable car - she is dead keen, but when I checked this week Royal Docks DLR was off limits and TFL suggested a walk from Canning Town station which would be too much for her. We will definitely be going there (and back!).

I really like the Trinity Buoy Wharf. Had a lovely bike ride there one summer's day from this end. Now I've read this I want to go to Harwich to visit their buoys again.

colleen said...
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Knit Nurse said...

@colleen it's very close to the Jubilee Line station at North Greenwich, I would suggest going from that end if the north side access is too far to walk.

Ah Harwich, I can't remember its buoys specifically but do remember how strangely deserted the town itself seems to be most of the time. Any time I've visited it feels like no-one lives there!