Chez l'abeille

Culture. Travel. Writing. My world in words and pictures

The streets of London.

To my surprise, I have recently discovered an exciting section of the Transport for London website, headed “Walk London“.

Now, I have always known about some of the designated London walks, such as the Jubilee Walkway, because I have often seen the way markers set into the pavements around the South Bank. However, I have never really looked at the full routes or taken account of the many new routes which have been opened up across the capital in the past few years. So, spurred on by a friend’s random tweet about the Capital Ring Walk, I took advantage of a spare Wednesday in April and set out to walk the Eastern loop of the Jubilee Walkway.  Some of the route I know well, but I hoped that having the focus of a walk plan would provide new vistas or curiosities which have escaped my notice when I am just going from A-B!

The start of the route officially loops from the Tate Modern Art Gallery at Bankside, towards Tower Bridge. However because I know this part of the river very well I started by walking along Southwark Street and cut through Borough Market where I wanted to eat.

Walking along Southwark Street I was intrigued by the Kirkaldy Testing Museum which has a rather magnificent motto carved above the door. Built in 1874 it houses David Kirkaldy’s machinery used to test the strengths of materials. It still functions and the building has open days across the year, so I will have to come back and see it in action! Cutting through the back of Borough Market, I wandered to the Southwark Cathedral side where a fabulous thali from Gujerati Rasoi and a Cinnamon Tree Bakery biscuit awaited.

Fortified with lunch, I wandered back onto the official walkway and headed off towards Tower Bridge, via the river walkway. Having crossed the bridge I veered down the steeply worn steps towards St Katharine’s Dock. As you head into the dock you pass David Wynne’s 1973 sculpture “Girl with a dolphin”. This is apparently a companion piece to the 1974 work “Boy with a dolphin” located at Cheyne Walk. I’ve noticed both statues before but never their similarities. Interestingly David Wynne also designed the linked hands on the 50p coins! A few steps on you find the 1973 sundial, “Timepiece”, by Wendy Taylor, a very large sundial which consists of a stainless steel ring supported by three rigid chain cables.

Walking around St Katharine’s Dock I discovered that the Queen’s rowbarge “Gloriana”, designed for the Diamond Jubilee celebrations, was all decked out with a red carpet walkway! I did hang around for a bit to see if any famous/royal personages were going to make an appearance but as there was nothing happening I moved on.
The route now skirts under Tower bridge and heads towards the Tower of London and Tower Hill. The last time I was at the Tower of London I saw the fabulous Poppy Installation but the grounds have now been cleared and were in fact being re-turfed. The levelled, brown earth after the brightness of the red poppies seemed rather fitting. I also deviated from the route a bit to pop over the road to the Merchant Navy War Memorial. Heading towards St Pauls on the homeward leg, another slight deviation from the official route took in Leadenhall Market for a quick look at the “False Ceiling” by Richard Wentworth. The last section of the Jubilee walkway swings gently back via the Georgian grandness of Mansion House, over the Millennium (wobbly) Bridge towards the Tate Gallery again and for me, the bus home. This was a gentle walk, which might be better completed when the city is quieter, but I did discover a new sculpture and some great food along the way. Watch out for other London walks in the future!
Start and finish: Tate Modern
Section distance: 3.4 miles if you follow the exact route! I probably did more with all the detours along the way
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