Dave Sergeant

The Green London Way is a walking route of 110 miles length around London split into 18 sections. It follows much of the route of the 78 mile long Capital Ring but has some new sections. The Green London Way is largely the work of one man, Bob Gilbert, who is a supporter for the protection of urban open spaces and public access. His book, The Green London Way, outlines each section with detailed description of the historic and wildlife aspects of each section and is being used as I walk the route.

Green London Way Walk 3 - Woolwich to Greenwich - 4th August 2021

This walk goes via Charlton and some woodland parts before joining the Thames at the barrier. Most of it I have walked before as it covers parts of the Jubilee Greenway, Thames Path and Capital Ring (in reverse), though has a few new bits. I had to end it early at North Greenwich as you will see later.

So up to Woolwich Arsenal where I finished last week. Too late to catch the 1015 from Waterloo East so took the tube to Canning Town then the DLR. After a short walk through busy Woolwich I turned off at the old garrison church of St George which suffered a direct hit from a V1 in 1944 and is left as a memorial. Then the magnificant Royal Artillery Barracks and the public Barrack Field.

Then after a short stretch of road walking with the old ha-ha on one side I crossed onto another part of Woolwich Common. Here is an old reservoir, dug by convict labour in 1848 but never used, now covered and not easy to see. After following some confusing paths not that well described I exited the Common close to Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

Now into Hornfair Park. This is the scene of various legends connected with King John and a Horn Fair that used to take place for many years. Now it exists as a public park including a (deserted yesterday) GMX track. Then a road named after Inigo Jones who it was said lived in the area for a time.

Now into the extensive Charlton Park. The Jacobean mansion dates from 1612 with various owners and for a long time owned by the Maryon Wilson family before being sold with the 108 acres of parkland to Greenwich Borough Council. The house has still not opened to the public after lockdown, only for private functions. The Old Cottage Coffee Shop elsewhere in the park though was doing a roaring trade. Part of the walk diverted out of the park for a while to see Charlton Village with a slightly old worldy feel spoiled by heavy traffic.

Out of the park into some woodland. First Maryon Wilson Park, more a wood than a park and within it a zoo (although that seemed to be closed to the public). The second wood is called Maryon Park in an area with old sand pits. On the right hand side of my route is Gilbert's Pit, now a celebrated geological site and as you can see has steep edges. In fact this whole area is very hilly and there are some steep steps towards the top. Note to other walkers, although the guide book gives you directions 'after reaching the railway line' you won't actually see this as it is in a tunnel there! I met a couple up at the lookout point and they were a bit confused when I asked them where the railway line was... A little confusion before I found the right set of steep steps which took me down the the main Woolwich Road. A short stretch the other side of that, partly park but mainly industrialised took me down to the river at the Thames Barrier.

So from the barrier it was just a two mile walk or so along the river to the Cutty Sark at Greenwich. Or so I thought. This stretch of the river is hardly that scenic with much industry and much of it off the river on streets. The Green London Way also chooses to use the cross-peninsular route rather than the long trek right round the dome that the Thames Path suggests. When I did the Thames Path in 1996 that cross-peninsular route was the only way and was easy. Now of course the whole area is a mass of development. All was well until I reached the pleasant Greenwich Ecology Park by the Greenwich Yacht Club. The Ecology Park looks a good future visit with free entry. Admittedly I missed a turn so didn't go through Central Park on the Peninsular but then ended up by the busy Millenium Way with no sign of the road I was meant to take opposite. After asking a few people in a mess of cones I eventually found North Greenwich tube station, itself an obstacle course to get to, and called it a day. The western side of the peninsular is known to be one of the least attractive parts of the Thames Path anyway. Tube back to London Bridge and a spur of the moment visit to Hornimans there where I had a very pleasant rather late lunch. Back home around around 5.30 after another nice day - which might have been nicer if I had completed my venture.

North Greenwich to Greenwich - 11th August 2021

Having investigated the route a bit more and worked out where I had gone wrong I decided to have another attempt before beginning section 4.

So starting where I finished last week I arrived at North Greenwich tube station and emerged from its north entrance by the entrance to the O2 which was a litle more pleasant than the south entrance I had used then. From there a short walk to pick up the Thames Path on the east side of the peninsular at North Greenwich pier by the Dangleway and Alan Gormley's Quantum Cloud sculpture which forms part of The Line Art Walk.

I followed the path along the river for a few hundred yards then turned off through the housing estate to rejoin the Green London Way in Central Park which I had missed last time. From here, after crossing West Parkside and then Millenium Way I went down Boord Street which I had missed last time - which itself had vehicles from the road works team down it. Then a long footbridge over the Blackwall Tunnel approach road, which looks like a place to avoid if you are driving around London, with the Victorian portal of the northbound carriageway visible in the background.

Now on the eastern side of the peninsular it was just a case of walking the 1 mile path down to Greenwich. Quite a lot of work seems to have been done on this stretch and it is now an excellent path with good views towards Canary Wharf and the various buildings in Greenwich. The Cutty Sark was soon reached, the official end of section 3.