Dave Sergeant

Today I shall be starting the next stage of my walks round London - the Jubilee Greenway. This was set up in 2012 to celebrate the Queen's Diamond Jubilee and coincidently the London Olympics. As such it is 60km in length and passes all the London Olympic venues - or rather it doesn't as it goes nowhere near Wembley and Wimbledon and a long way from Lee Valley. It introduces no new walking paths whatsoever, most of it goes on parts of the Capital Ring and Thames Path and also along the Regent's Canal towpath. I have therefore only recently done much of it so will concentrate on the bits which are new to me.

Jubilee Greenway Sections 9, 1 and 2 - Westminster Bridge to Camden Lock - November 7th 2019

This morning I shall be starting on the Thames by the Eye, which is part of section 8, then on my well trodden path past Westminster to St Jame's Park along to the official start of the walk by Buckingham Palace. This does the whole of section 9 apart from a somewhat pointless dog leg down to Lambeth Bridge and back whose only purpose seems to get you to go past the front of the Houses of Parliament and fight through any remaining Brexit protesters. Then sections one and two, ending at Camden Lock and then bus back to Waterloo. Next trip the rest of Regents Canal (section 3) and the bit of the Greenway which was closed when I did the Capital Ring for Crossrail work but is now open again. Will probably also do the section from Woolwich to Tower Bridge which I have not done since I did the Thames Path in the late 1990's.

Starting (section 8) at the London Eye, now accessed by the newly opened footpath between Waterloo and the South Bank. Along the Thames to Westminster Bridge brought section 8 to an end, so over the bridge, past the Houses of Parliament towards St James Park. All very touristy, lots of delays waiting to cross roads at traffic lights, and seen all this many times before. I took the scenic route right through the park rather than the official section 9 route along the busy Mall.

I had thought that there wasn't a changing of the guard this morning but there was and already (10.45) a crowd was gathering outside Buckingham Palace to watch the proceedings and various police cordons were in place. The start of section 1 is marked by a special plaque in the pavement right outside the main gates, it was a little tricky taking this shot with all sorts of people crowding around it... A procession of horses and soldiers in uniform greeted me when I turned the corner into Constitution Hill. All very touristy.

At the top of Constitution Hill and Marble Arch, then into Hyde Park with the Serpentine.

More 'must see' tourist spots. The Diana Memorial Fountain (no kids playing in it today thankfully) and a fairly youthful looking Queen Victoria outside Kensington Palace. OK, enough with the touristy bits, it soon changes pretty dramatically. Out of Hyde Park and through a few residential roads heading towards Paddington Station.

A short diversion into Leinster Gardens and we find the famous numbers 23 and 24. When the Metropolitan Line was built and was steam powered they needed open air sections of the tunnels. These are dummy facades to hide them - the 'houses' have blacked out windows and no letter boxes. The view from the other side shows it as it really is (wrongly photographed from the next door house, the tube line is hidden behind the brick wall).

Soon after passing the hoards of people at Paddington the scenery changes dramatically. Here is the Paddington arm of the Grand Union, starting right beside the station and following this for a short distance we reach the Pool of Little Venice which sits at the junction of the Grand Union and the Regent's Canal. Cross the bright blue bridge to join the Regent's towpath and the start of leg 2.

The Regent's canal is lovely without question, surprising being so near the London sprawl. But there were a few initial problems getting there. The first part of the towpath is used for private mooring so the route follows the adjacent busy road. After the canal goes through the Maida Hill tunnel we are supposed to rejoin the towpath there but it has clearly been closed off for some time, no alternative but continue along the road to the next bridge. The lefthand towpath there is closed at the moment for refurbishment so I had to use the righthand towpath for a while before I could cross to the correct side. But it was worth it when I finally got there.

London Zoo emerges on the opposite bank with a landing pier for the tourist boats - a couple of which had passed me on the way, including one with a big 'happy birthday Mark' sign on it and a happy crowd inside! On my bank was a large netted enclosure which was soon going to be a monkey enclosure for the zoo. Maybe somewhere to visit one day.

But soon everything changed again when I reached the end of leg 2 at Camden Lock. Camden Market (part of it at the left) seems a very trendy place with loads of little shops and cafes. I lunched in the Ice Wharf right on the lock side with a seat by the window. A fascinating way to spend an hour looking at the Camden world going by. Then along the road to catch the 168 bus back to Waterloo (and I have even used that same 168 bus on other London trips), back into the bustling world of London.

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