This blogpost a continuation of the previous one Blackfriars to Bermondsey Thames stroll.
It's very simple to walk along the Thames in London, on either side. The route rarely leaves the riverside, and when it does, it is generally well-signed, and is exceptionally easy to do with no guidance. However, guidance does exist, eg a detailed a route descriptor by Walk London:
A gem of a walk — The Thames Path Walk needs no introduction as the main artery that runs through the beating heart of London. While the National Trail stretches westwards to the source of the River Thames in the Cotswolds, the London section covers a magical 40 miles (64 km) of easy, level walking on both sides of the river from Hampton Court Palace, through the heart of London to the East India Dock on the north bank and the River Darent on the south bank.
They've cut the walk into several chunks, quite useful for the first-timer, especially one who wants to see many sights. We started at the bottom of Page 2 of South Bank - Albert Bridge to Tower Bridge (Pdf) and we should probably have progressed further into: South Bank - Tower Bridge to Thames Barrier.
Just before London Bridge is Glaziers Hall, home to, unsurprisingly, the Worshipful Company of Glaziers, and other less predictable Worshipful Companies. According to Wikipedia, there are 108 such Livery Companies in the City of London. Of course, being south of the river, these are not in 'The City'. Wikipedia acknowledges that Glaziers Hall is outside the City. The oldest livery company is the Worshipful Company of Mercers dating back to before 1394. The Glaziers and Painters of Glass date to 1638; its predecessor to 1328. Its original hall burned down in the Great Fire in 1666; they have been in their current hall since 1977.The Scientific Instrument Makers achieved Livery status in 1964; the Launderers in 1977. It awards scholarships to laundry students. The most recent (1999) is the Worshipful Company of Security Professionals. People obviously care about these things, forming new companies and writing copiously on Wikipedia. I've lost the will to live just blogging them; consigned to List of Things That Don't Matter As Much As Their Members Would Like Us to Think.
It is too tall and in the wrong place. This isn't actually so obvious from close-to, but as seen from the top of Brixton Hill, arguably the most important viewpoint, it is out of proportion. Because it is significantly closer than the City's skyscrapers, it doesn't appear slightly taller, but loomingly disproportionately out of place. Also, its ten apartments are valued at approximately £50 million, another reason to hate it.
For a while, the path leaves the River, but there are instructions to take a path back to the Thames by the private London Bridge Hospital, not to be confused with the free world class Guy's Hospital.
The riverscape changes dramatically at this point. Throughout our walk from Blackfriars we had been conscious of walking through the narrow streets of Elizabethan Bankside, but now, the riverbank was wide open for tourists alongside the Pool of London, the home of commercial shipping. Now overtly Touristy, I find it nearly impossible to imagine how it must have been with the wharves and cargo ships.
I was determined to photograph the various sailing ships moored in the aftermath of the Diamond Jubilee. We stopped for a drink at the Horniman at Hays. It would be difficult to imagine a more touristy situation for a pub, but gratifyingly, they were well-stocked with a wide range of ales, and had plenty of staff on duty. The ones I encountered seemed interested in proper customer service not just indifferently pushing product to tourists. The sheltered, heated beer-terrace is situated alongside HMS Belfast, another excuse to take photos!
Up until this weekend, I had never heard of Potter's Field. But I read that it was a venue for a peaceful Republican protest during the Jubilee pageant, and subsequently I learned that it is and was the venue for a Big Screen for London 2012. It has an impressive timeline, although it only because of relevance or interest in the 17th century. It was reopened after refurbishment in 2007. It's not a destination, but when walking in that area it's nice to have the Open Space. By the way, notice the Agitos on the flag outside City Hall. There was also an Olympic flag flying, just visible at the edge beyond the Union Flag.
I don't think I had ever walked East of Tower Bridge before this year, and now, in consecutive weekends, I had managed it on both banks. The Lower Pool of the Pool of London runs down to cherry Gardens pier in Rotherhithe. We didn't get that far, but it is a short and fascinating walk through Shad Thames.
I always think you can't beat a good bit of modernish sculpture on a Riverside walk, but it's hard to think what to make of this piece.
I love this stretch of waterway, known as St Saviour's Dock. It is, apparently, the mouth of the subterranean River Neckenger -
the name of the river is believed to derive from the term "devil's neckcloth" (i.e. hangman's noose) because pirates were hanged there. It separates Shad Thames from Jacob's Island. It is authentically Dickensian, being where Bill Sykes had his den in Oliver Twist, and where Sykes fell to his death in the novel. And invariably pointed out by the narrators on the Thames cruises downstream to Greenwich.
We spotted that many people had stopped, to watch. Someone was wielding a very serious camera. And then, we saw it, the Bascules of Tower Bridge rising. Bascule had been actually trending on Twitter the previous day, in people's excitement at finding a new word we could actually use. I think I like the bike park almost as much as the rising bascules!
Finally, I had read about the tens of tonnes of rubbish removed overnight by Westminster city council alone following the Diamond Jubilee boat show, and this made me sad, as I tried to guess how much was removed in total by the approximately six local authorities that fronted the route. I understand it's nearly impossible to avoid creating *any* litter, as things get blown about, but I see no difficulty in taking home what you bring. I have subsequently seem numerous reports during the summer of parks and beaches despoiled by people dumping their rubbish, assuming it's someone else's problems, and someone else will take it away. I find it ironic that this masquerades as patriotism. And I'm not impressed.
And who the hell gave these vandal patriots the right to trample the flowers? Are they following the example of the Scrounging Thieving Royals they worship for their indolence and disrespect? Because I happen to think that sort of person is scum, and, frankly, should just stay away from London if that's how they treat public property, and exercise their mindless patriotism in their inbred villages.