UK, Greater London, Around Surrey Quays

MAY 31,2013 - MAY 31,2013 (1 DAYS)

Citywalk

Surrey Quays  Circular Walk.

Start: Surrey Quays Station.

End  : Surrey Quays Station.

Distance: 12 km.

Orientation: History, nice city views, pure nature, tranquility and striking docks and piers - all in one ticket. In a bright day - I promise you unforgettable places. Greenford Wharf in a clear day - one of the most unexpected gems of London ! The old Surrey Docks area has now been extensively regenerated brilliantly with new buildings, eateries and warehouses. The mix of water, remains of the docklands, boats, tree-lined avenues and walking promenades in these areas - is one of the most beautiful around the globe. The walk is quite long - but extremely pleasant in a clear day. A marvelous day, especially in a cloudless day !!!

Lunch: We recommend that you'll pack sandwiches and wait, patiently, until the end of this long trip. You'll find the Nando's restaurant in the second floor of the Surrey Quays Commercial /Shopping Centre. Otherwise find a bar or restaurant in Rotherhithe. Later, it might be difficult to find an established restaurant...

From Surrey Quays Station turn left and cross the  junction continuing on the left-hand side of Lower Road for about 50 metres. Turn left through China Hall Gate into Southwark Park:

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Take the left fork on a path that curves around a fenced running track.  Swing right at the end of the fence and follow a path near the left edge of the park. Continue until you see  a block of flats. Turn right to find a lake on your left. On front of the gallery turn left  and continue to follow the lake edge. Continue to the end of the lake, then turn left into the Ada Salter Garden:

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Ada Salter, after whom this garden is named, was Britain's first woman Labour mayor. Exit through the gate at the far end of the garden and turn right. Turn right again at the T-junction and cross internal park drive to go down the path opposite. Take the next right, then left to pass in front of a cricket green area. While arriving to a drinking fountain, fork left to arrive at the charming bandstand from the Great Exhibition of 1851:

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Continue half-right to the corner of the park. Exit the park through the Paradise Gate and go across the pedestrian crossing. To your far right, at the far side of the roundabout, is the Norwegian Church of St Olav which is hidden behingd the trees (probably, you'll see only the Norwegian flag).

Go forward into King's Stairs Gardens and take the left fork. Facing the children's play area , turn left to take the curving path which joins Fulford Street. Continue to the end of the grassed area and turn left to find a somewhat unexpected view of Tower Bridge, The Shard and the City of London:

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Keep close to the river as possible and then turn left along Rotherhithe Street, between refurbished old warehouses. The St Mary’s Church is on your right. You reach the Mayflower pub. The Mayflower was the Pilgrim ship that in 1620 made the historic voyage from England to the New World (America). The ship carried religious emigrants  from Holland and a largely non-religious settlers group from London. The Mayflower started its voyage from Rotherhithe.:

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Turn right down St Mary Church Street and go right around the front of the church to reach Hope Sufferance Wharf in the heart of Rotherhithe village. In Hope Sufferance Wharf cargoes had checked for duty when landed. Opposite Hope Sufferance Wharf is St Mary’s Burial Ground. Opposite are two buildings: the Engine House on the right and  on the left is the Watch House. Next to the Watch House is an 18th century building which once housed a school founded for poor seamen's children. The boy and girl figures show school uniforms of over 200 years ago:

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St Mary’s Church was rebuilt in 1714. The church is closed most of the time.  When it is open it affords a good view of the handsome interior. Nonetheless interesting is th the church burial ground. The most remarkable grave is of  Christopher Jones, the Rotherhithe sea-captain who took the Pilgrim Fathers to America in 1620:

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From the church, turn back and walk down Tunnel Road for 50 metres to arrive at the Brunel Museum. The drum-shaped construction marks the position of the shaft for the world's first tunnel to be driven under a navigable river by Marc Brunel and his son, Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The tunnel they built was converted to underground railway use in 1865-9 and now carries the East London Line. The project succeeded after many delays and disasters. It began in 1825. The tunnel was finally opened to pedestrian traffic only in 1843:

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Turn left behind the museum, then right to continue along Rotherhithe Street, turning back to the river at Cumberland Wharf opposite Swan Road.On your right you'll see the Winchelsea Court. Do not skip it:

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You face, now, the Thames river and the Thames Path. The sculpture here is titled the Sunshine Weekly and the Pilgrim’s Pocket. It depicts the astonishment of a 17th century pilgrim at a boy reading a 1930’s comic, with a dog gazing at him. The pilgrim’s pocket contains an A-Z, dated 1620...:

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Continue now between new housing, and the river as far as the circular brick building.  This building marks ventilation shafts for the Rotherhithe Road Tunnel:

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Return to Rotherhithe Street and cross a bridge, which raised the roadway to allow access to the main entrance of the Surrey Commercial Docks:

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Go around a large inlet, still following the river:

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The way forward is now blocked by the large bulk of Globe Wharf, a grain warehouse of 1863, which was later used as a rice mill:

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Go around this housing project returning to Rotherhithe Street and walking up the other side of the building back to the river. Continue on, accompanied by a line of newly-planted plane trees:

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As the Canary Wharf complex comes into view:

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Look across the river for the entrance to Limehouse Marina and the Limehouse Basin. This is actually Regent’s Canal Dock and is one of the two exits of London’s canal system into the Thames:

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The tower of St Anne Church in Limehouse soon comes into view:

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As you cross another inlet, look over to the right for the Lavender Dock pumphouse which controlled the water levels in the Surrey Docks. It is now a museum. Behind this (not visible from here) is Lavender Pond Nature Park. Continue along the riverside, passing a tall obelisk:

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Another former warehouse blocks the way. Descend steps to Rotherhithe Street again and turn left, soon arriving outside the Blacksmith’s Arms. 40-50 metres further on, cross to the corner of Acorn Walk. Nelson Engine House and Draw Dock opposite had a carriage by which ships could be drawn out of the Thames for repair. Next door is the elegant mid-18th century Nelson House. Go through the gate and take the forward path away from the river, taking the subway under Salter Road.

You are now in Russia Dock Woodland, formed by the infilling of one of the Surrey Docks. What a contrast to the former parts of our daily trip and other sights of Greater London ! Continue on the main path, and cross the stream and, after 80-100 metres, turn left, recrossing it again. Keep following the stream and bear right around the pond:

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Go forward through a gate. Redriff Primary School is on your left. - Redriff being an old name for Rotherhithe. Go around the curve and, just before the bridge, turn right by some large granite blocks. In 40 metres, turn right again towards the mound of Stave Hill (Note: the directions to Stave Hill might be embarassing !). Stave Hill was created by re-excavated spoil from the surrounding area. At the summit, there is a bronze relief model of the Surrey Docks as they existed in 1896. The sights from the top of the mound or hill are impressive:

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Avoid exploring the Ecology Park. It will be a long and exhausting walk. Too much for one day... This is a surprisingly extensive area of woodland. Better, continue on and turn right along the base of the hill before ascending steps to the viewpoint on top. Return down the steps and turn left, taking the second of two paths on the right, Stave Hill Path, passing a school on the right. On reaching the open, continue forward for 30 metres, pass through railings and turn left. Continue on a right curve along the main path and cross a bridge to an old quayside which still retains its granite edging blocks. Over the bridge, turn right.

As you approach Redriff Road, bear right through the underpass, then through the barrier to reach Greenland Dock. Turn left, then right by the Moby Dick pub to follow the water’s edge.  This dock began life around 1695 as Howland Great Wet Dock, the first of London’s docks south of the river and was renamed Greenland Dock. Gradually, as the whaling trade subsided in the 19th century, general cargo, including timber and grain imports took their place. Timber especially was handled by the Surrey Docks, and four-fifths of London’s timber was unloaded here, coming mainly from Canada and the Baltic. Between the wars, Greenland Dock saw use by 'A' Class Cunard Liners, which plied between here and Canada. Surrey Commercial Docks finally closed in December 1970 and were sold to Southwark Council:

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You are now walking back towards the Thames again. Cross over the repositioned Norway Cut Swing Bridge and continue on. Continue to the junction with the Thames, where Canary Wharf has now come back into view. Note the hydraulic capstan which enabled ships to make the tight turn into the lock:

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Go back and cross the bridge. Turn right along the opposite side of the Dock for just 30 metres. Turn left through a short stretch of gardens by the Wibbly Wobbly floating pub to arrive opposite South Dock on Rope Street:

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Turn right here and continue until Steel Yard Cut, the channel linking the two docks. Once over, turn right, then left, along Greenland Dock again. On reaching the compound, turn left, then right down Rope Street again. Go past the Watersports Centre, then turn right to reach the water again:

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The slipway just past here marks the start of the Grand Surrey Canal. The Grand Surrey Canal was intended to link all the way to Portsmouth but only got as far as Peckham before the money ran out! Continue along the remainder of Greenland Dock, at the end turning right to pass under the  bridge which carries Redriff Road:

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Swing to the left of the end of Surrey Quays Shopping Centre and continue on past bus stands. When the road bends right, go down the ramp and cross Lower Road back to the Surrey Quays Station.

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