Walking for me usually means rural. Forest & fields, up into the hills. Across Salisbury Plain or at the very least, round a stately home and through some nice gardens. I’m a country girl at heart, so no one is more surprised than me at how I’ve fallen in love with London. Not many cities have won me over, but the English capital really is a fabulous place.
The perfect city for a last minute weekend away before Mr THL goes away again. Despite only living an hour or so outside of London, we booked a hotel. A one night stay gave us two full days either side to explore. It still wasn’t enough; London is just like work. It expands to fill time.
London is a city that has spread out over centuries, meaning it’s absolutely massive. Walking alone would be tiring and limiting. Time to rethink my reluctance to use the underground. As it turned out, I did more than that. I fell a bit in love with some of the stations. Aren’t they fascinating places, beautiful in their own way?
But then… we had travel cards. We could drop into the earth and pop out again somewhere new as many times as we liked. Why go A to B, when we could go anywhere? A quick google. We wanted to be, at some point, in Greenwich. But if we went a bit further we could pick up The Line, London’s first dedicated public art walk. As Mr THL put it, ‘ There’s an art walk, that massive slide and East London’.
We trained it all the way to Stratford. Started walking and promptly got lost. Walked through a very bland area before finding the route and the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Did spot some eye catching poppy street art and Turing Street, so named after Londoner Alan Turing.
I have to confess I didn’t find the QEOP very inspiring, what I saw of it. It’s a bit something and nothing. I can say I’ve been. I don’t know what was there before so I can’t say if it’s an improvement or not. I did quite like the ArcelorMittal Orbit a.k.a The Massive Slide. Looking online, I’d been game to fly down it. Standing at the bottom looking up, I was less sure. Mr THL said he would fancy it, but he’s fearless. Having plans for flying of a different sort later in the day, we walked on.
Wandered, tried to stick roughly to the route of The Line. Didn’t really manage it, we never do. Followed the water , spotted some quirky artworks along the way. Then we came to Three Mills. Be still my beating heart. Why?
Because I have a right old romanticised view of East London. Fuelled by novels set in WW2 (you know the ones, cover always features a gutsy yet misfortunate young lady in a lovely tea dress who will only find her happy ending after lots of heart ache), Eastenders and T.V dramas set in Victorian times. What I’d seen so far didn’t play into my daydreams. Three Mills did- just look at the old beauties. The riverside location. The history.
A short stroll later, the Helping Hands memorial. A tribute to lives lost in 1901. Three men descended into a well in an attempt to save a fellow worker who’d been tasked to measure the water levels, but was overcome by noxious gas. There was a monument placed in their memory at the time, which was replaced in 2001. In a nice touch, fragments of the original have been used in the plinth. I like the blend of old and new, and I like that visitors like me are finding it and seeking the story.
A lot of wandering and getting distracted later it was decided we’d pushed the legs and time hard enough. Time to make use of those tickets and jump on the train to North Greenwich. Destination: The Emirates cable car. It’s been Teenager No 1’s desire to go on it for ages, so we made it happen. First,a mooch around the O2 arena and a pit stop at Starbucks. I had a coffee. The teens had what can only be described as creations… something frappucinno, whipped with cream, drizzle and an extra shot. I just pay and mutter things about no one buying a plain old coffee anymore *shrug*
Th cable car was fun, if a little strange in the city. The sight and sound of a cable car is forever Germany or Austria for me. Ski resorts and Summer trips to hike in the mountains. But it’s an inexpensive, a bit different and a quick way across the river. When I say quick, I mean it. You’ll likely queue as long as you ride, but the views are amazing.
The key to a happy family walk is knowing when to stop. Despite the many attractions of Greenwich calling- we seem destined to miss them, last visit was a flying one– getting back to the hotel for a rest before seemed the best plan. Just as well we did, we ended up out for the evening. More walking, more jumping on and off the tube, lots of laughing and a Nandos in Clink Street. Now there’s another bit of London I’d like to dive into.
I read an article about blogging that cautioned you should only publish posts that solve a problem for your readers. This post isn’t anything like that. It’s just a come-along-with-me while I get ridiculously excited about all the things and places. It’s nice to get excited about travel again though, isn’t it? When you think back to what we’ve been through the past few years. London still seemed quiet to me, but there’s a sense of hope. Things are getting better.
There’s a bit more London stuff coming and I hope you’ll stick around for it. One post in particular, I’d really love to muster some support for. In the meantime, I hope you enjoyed this romp through London as much as I did. Let’s chat in the comments about where you’ve been walking, your favourite bits of London and anywhere else in the city you’d recommend for me to check out.