Dave Sergeant

I found this on the Inner London Rambler's website and is a five mile circular walk starting and finishing at Surrey Quays Overground station. I thought I had seen most of the things in this area but how wrong I was.

After an easy journey via Clapham Junction I arrived at South Quays around 10.30am. Out of the station and cross the busy Lower Road to enter the large Southwark Park through China Hall Gate.

Passing an athletics track and playing fields a large lake is reached. It seems algae is a problem in the lake and measures are being taken to reduce this and improve its appearance.

In the centre is the Ada Salter Garden, dedicated to Ada Salter who was Britain's first woman Labour mayor and husband of Alfred Salter who set up a medical practice in Bermondsey.

These caryatides were originally at the front of the old Rotherhithe Town Hall which was destroyed in WW2 and eventually relocated here in 2011. Further on the bandstand, which originated from the Great Exhibition of 1851, appears. North of the bandstand there was evidence of the recent queue for the Queen's lying in state with a pattern of green stripes where the barriers were 10 days before.

Out of Southwark Park and across the busy Jamaica Road into King's Stairs Gardens and onto the Thames path with a magnificant view of Tower Bridge.

Nearby the ruins of Edward III's Manor House with the Inner Court and the moat being visible.

St Mary's Rotherhithe marks the centre of the old village of Rotherhithe. The Mayflower departed from here in 1715 and Christopher Jones who captained that ship is buried here. The church was open so I popped inside, it is quite impressive.

Opposite the church are several historic Rotherhithe buildings. Hope Sufference Wharf was involved in collecting duties from landing ships. The Engine House housed the hand drawn fire engine. Next door The Watch House used by the parish watchman is now a quite busy cafe with customers drinking on tables set up in the churchyard extension. Alongside a former charity school with blue coat statues outside and then the vicarage. Quite a lot of Rotherhithe's past celebrated in a small area.

Back to the river and a short distance to the Brunel museum. Here Brunel built the first tunnel under the Thames from 1828 which is now used by the Overground trains. The chimney is for the former engine house and the shaft can also be seen in the grounds. The museum looks interesting for a later visit. Then quite some way further on along the river walk is the ventilation shaft for the Rotherhithe Tunnel.

Then a longish walk along the Thames Path with good views across the river to Limehouse Basin. Eventually by the Doubletree Hotel the river is left and Rotherhithe Street briefly joined. The guide recommended the Blacksmith's Arms as a stopping place but I found it closed and it seems it doesn't open until 4pm. The walk now enters its second half. The eastern side of the peninsular was once a scene of many docks but with declining trade many of then were later filled in. Nelson Walk takes me into Russia Dock Woodland where the former Russia Dock was.

The walk continues through the woodland and follows a stream although that stream was totally dry.

Globe Pond is reached and then Stave Hill, named after the former Stave Dock. This large mound was created from re-excavated spoil from the local area.

At the top is a relief model of how the Surrey Docks looked in 1896 and excellent views of the city. It seemed to be a meeting place for children from the nearby school during their lunch break and who can blame them.

The woodland surrounding Stave Hill is an ecological park and hours could be spent exploring this. I pressed on.

This bridge is a remnant of the former quayside of Stave Dock still with its granite edging blocks. Then out of the woods to the main Redriff Road. The walk continues round the large Greenland Dock but since time was pressing I stopped there and walked along the road towards Surrey Docks to have lunch in the adjacent Wetherspoons before heading back to Clapham Junction and home. A pleasant day and more unseen London explored.

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