London Docklands DIY Walking Tour
London Docklands DIY Walking Tour
The London Docklands DIY Walking Tour includes two sections covered by public transport. The actual walking part covers a totally flat distance of under 3km (or 6km if you want to continue your walk to Greenwich itself).
There are actually 3 different London DIY Walking Tours. And all 3 are connected: this London Docklands DIY Walking Tour, which connects with the London Thames DIY Walking Tour at Tower Bridge, and the London West End DIY Walking Tour which starts from the Houses of Parliament & Big Ben.
At a very minimum, I would do all three London DIY Walking Tours over three days (one per day). But more time simply means more London attractions to actually visit – so a whole week would be even better!
Points of Interest: Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, Docklands Light Railway, City Hall, the Greenwich Cable Car across the Thames, Greenwich Peninsula, the Tide Art Trail, the O2 Arena/the Millennium Dome, Greenwich & the Cutty Sark (optional), a cruise along the Thames at night, seeing central London from the River Thames.
There’s a LOT to see and do on the London Docklands DIY Walking Tour.
London Docklands DIY Walking Tour - Directions:
[These are very thorough walking directions – you shouldn’t be getting lost in London’s Dockland or Greenwich following this guide. However, I definitely recommend that you follow the Google Streetview route of the entire London Docklands DIY Walking Tour first, from the comfort of your own home before you head to London, as this will allow you to better visualise the entire route before you arrive].
START – Tower Gateway DLR Station [MAP]:
Although there are steps at the main entrance, to the Tower Gateway DLR Station, there is wheelchair access via a lift hidden away below and behind the steps (opposite “The Minories” bar).
Board the first train which has “Becton” as the destination. You will leave the train after just 8 stops though, at “Royal Victoria”;
Royal Victoria DLR Station [MAP]:
When you arrive at Royal Victoria station, you will be on the wrong side for the start of the first actual walking part of this London Docklands DIY Walking Tour route. To reach the start of the walking route (which begins on the road on the other side of the station), you must first cross the tracks by the overhead bridge. For wheelchair users this means taking two accessible lifts – one up, then roll across the bridge, then another back down to street level (to Seagull Lane – where the walk to the Greenwich Cable Car at “Royal Docks” station begins).
With the rail tracks at your back, turn RIGHT and walk along Seagull Lane (keeping to the nearside pavement), until you reach the pedestrian crossing at the junction with the main Western Gateway road (you will see the striking City Hall building on the other side of the crossing – this is your next destnation);
City Hall [MAP]:
Unless you are in a real hurry, I definitely recommend visiting City Hall. There’s a fantastic cafe on the ground floor, where you can sit and watch the cable cars coming and going. But more importantly, there are toilets here (including an accessible toilet – and as this is the only accessible toilet on this side of the river, before you reach the O2 Arena on the other side [which could be 30-40 minutes away, depending on queues], then I definitely definitely recommend you stop here);
Greenwich Cable Car [MAP]:
The Greenwich Cable Car is actually part of the public transport network in London. So prices are extremely reasonable.
The cable car journey (flight?) time across the River Thames is just over 10mins. And the entry/departure process is the same at either side: you buy your ticket on the ground level, and then go up to the first floor where the actual cable cars are.
There are wheelchair accessible lifts for those who can’t manage the stairs.
Greenwich Peninsula [MAP]:
When your cable car arrives at the Greenwich Peninsula cable car station, the disembarking process is the reverse (you depart the cable car on the first floor, then descend the stairs (or wheelchair accessible lift) to the ground floor.
As you exit the Greenwich peninsula cable car station, turn RIGHT* and walk along Edmund Halley Way until it ends at the river Thames (you will almost be heading in the direction you have just come from, and you will see the cable cars in front of/above you);
[* If you don’t feel much like walking, turn LEFT as you leave the cable car station, and almost immediately turn right into Phoenix Avenue and walk directly to the O2 Arena (Millennium Dome) – but the rest of these directions assume that you have turned RIGHT];
Again, turn RIGHT at the end of Edmund Halley Way (heading away from the Dome), and walk along this part of Olympian Way (the name of the riverside road that surrounds the Greenwich peninsula). Keep walking along Olympian Way until you reach the junction with John Harrison Way (there is a signpost here – and the junction/entrance to John Harrison Way is covered with cobbles – so wheelchair users can expect to r-r-rumble for a moment);
John Harrison Way [MAP]:
Walk along the right hand pavement of John Harrison Way until you reach the junction with East Parkside (its the third street you’ll come to). Again turn RIGHT here, and walk along the pleasant E. Parkside (traffic and pedestrians are kept well apart here). You will now be heading directly towards the Dome (you might catch a glimpse of part of it as you walk along E. Parkside).
Just after you see the cable car station (again) on your right, E. Parkside becomes Phoenix Avenue (you simply keep walking in the same direction – towards the Millennium Dome (O2 Arena);
Peninsula Square [MAP]:
Phoenix Avenue ends at the pedestrian Peninsula Square (directly in front of the dome);
Millennium Dome / O2 Arena [MAP]:
Not coming to see a show? No problem. The O2 is a shopper’s paradise. Discounts of up to 70% on some of the world’s most famous brands – in the O2’s Icon Outlet Shopping mall. There are a serious number of eating and drinking options too. And toilets (including accessible toilets – and even a Changing Places facility) are easy to find;
And the fun doesn’t just happen below the O2’s roof:
Up at the O2 [MAP]:
For a few pounds (OK, for quite a few pounds), you can climb OVER the O2 as well. You may be very lucky and find tickets available on the day – but pre-booking your Up at the O2 slot is seriously recommended (and is a must if you’re visiting at the weekend).
Wheelchair climbs are organised on weekday mornings, from late Spring to early Autumn, and take around 3 hours. A special wheelchair and pulley system is used (4 of their guides will pull you up and over – and you will come down backwards). So you must be able to transfer into their own special wheelchair. Pre-booking your wheelchair climb at Up at the O2 is a MUST – send them an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) for more information. And wheelchair climbs over the roof of the O2 Arena are seriously popular – pre-booking just has to be done well in advance (and I’m talking months in advance here);
After visiting the O2, walk back the way you came – but just for a few metres, until you see Wagamama – where you should turn LEFT (northeast) and start walking along Pier Walk . Climb the steps on your left, which will take you up to The Tide elevated walkway (there is a wheelchair accessible lift behind the steps). Eventually, The Tide will completely surround the Greenwich peninsula, but for now it ends by the river on the eatsern side of the Dome – the descent down to the river is via a ramped walkway (making it completely wheelchair accessible).
At the end of the ramp head left-ish and continue walking along the path that encircles the Dome (you will be travelling around the Dome in an anti-clockwise direction). From now on, always keep the Dome to your left as you walk anti-clockwise around it (the Thames will always be on your immediate right);
It’s Decision Time! [MAP]
[Do you continue along the Thames Path to Greenwich itself, and then take the ferry from Greenwich to central London from there? Or do you return, and take the ferry back to central London from Greenwich Peninsula?].
As you walk around the outside of the Dome, eventually you will arrive at the “Here” sculpture. This is simply a sign-post, with one arrow pointing away, with “Here” and “24,859” written below. When you reach this point, you will have to make a decision: either continue until the town of Greenwich itself (another 3km – just under 2 miles); or return.
This continuation route to Greenwich is totally wheelchair accessible, but there are a few places where you will encounter cobbles (impossible to avoid them, but they only cause discomfort briefly). Plus, the Thames Path is also a cycle path here, so it is completely level (and very flat), but do keep an eye out for cyclists – especially if wheelchair users are using the smoother cycle lane for a bit. And there are a couple of wonderful eating/drinking/toilet options along the way (and they are 100% wheelchair accessible too);
1. Returning to Greenwich Peninsula ferry dock:
This is seriously simple. Just retrace your steps (so you will now be circling the dome in a clockwise direction); and then when you get to the ramp leading to the elevated The Tide walkway again, ignore it – and continue walking by the river. Within moments you will see the Greenwich Peninsula ferry dock.
2. Continuing to Greenwich itself:
Being by the riverside, it’s level. And also being a cycle path, it’s wonderfully step-free.
And with eating, drinking options along the way (with wheelchair accessible toilet facilities), this really is a lovely riverside stroll in fine weather.
It’s a fairly long walk though (about 3km), but the eating & drinking places (wheelchair accessible) are placed ideally to act as “pit stops” along the way. Which breaks up the journey perfectly.
And, probably very importantly, as the path/cycle path is simple to follow, it’s practically impossible to get lost!
The walking directions to Greenwich:
At the “Here” signpost, and always with the River Thames immediately on your right, start heading south;
Almost immediately, the path will turn left (and away from the river). This will happen a few times – and is absolutely no cause for concern. The path has to do this a few times to bypass certain obstacles. However, these detours are always very short, and as long as you stay to the path at these points, you will find it nearly impossible to get lost;
After around walking for 1km, you will arrive at the first “pit stop”: at the wonderful Enderby House (a newly-built riverside pub which serves great food, and has two beautiful terraces (one on the main ground floor, and one on the rooftop: both have amazing views over the River Thames’ and both are wonderfully accessible (via the lift). The lift serves all 5 floors, 2 of which are below ground – including the toilets in the sub-basement level). Not simply a well-placed pit stop, this is a stop for serious foodies – the fare is sensational;
About 300m after Enderby House, you will see the amazing River Gardens Cafe on your left. Again, this is newly built with fantastic views over the Thames, including from the outdoor riverside terrace. And again this is 100% wheelchair accessible (including the toilets). More of a place for a quieter coffee & cake (or hot snack);
From the River Gardens Cafe, it is another 1km+ to the end of the walk at the Cutty Sark in Greenwich (which also has an accessible toilet);
Returning to central London:
You have a choice here too: the slower, slightly more expensive – but a million times more memorable ferry option; or return by the Underground – from either North Greenwich (if you opted against the additional riverside walk – Jubilee Line, direct, accessible),or from Cutty Sark station in Greenwich (DLR, change to Jubilee Line at Canary Wharf, both stations accessible).
But there really is only one correct answer. Take the ferry!
Seeing London from the river is simply unforgettable.
And, depending on the time of year, you will probably be returning to central London at sunset (just as the city is being lit up), or you’ll be returning not long after.
Some of the sights seen from the Thames:
A cruise to remember forever!
The last ferry terminates at Westminster pier (all previous ferries will continue on to the London Eye pier too). The boats, and all ferry piers in central London, on this route, are wheelchair accessible too (some boats even have an accessible toilet on board). Depending on your destination in central London, the ferry journey between Greenwich and Westminster will take anywhere up to 45 minutes.
YOUR DIY LONDON DOCKLANDS WALK NOW ENDS