Distance: 19km (12 miles)
Duration: One Entire Day
Houses of Parliament & Big Ben > Westminster Abbey > Buckingham Palace > Traflalgar Square > Downing Street > London Eye > Southbank Centre > Tate Modern > St.Paul’s Cathedral > Sky Garden > Tower Bridge > Docklands Light Railway > London Cable Car > Millennium Dome / O2 Arena > Greenwich
London in a Day DIY Walking Tour #1 (Sky Garden Option)
The London in a Day DIY Walking Tour #1 (Sky Garden Option) covers a totally flat walking distance of 19km (plus additional distances covered by the Docklands Light Railway, London’s Cable Car across the River Thames and finishes with seeing London from the river (on the London public ferry).
There are actually 2 different London in a Day DIY Walking Tours.Both follow the same route at the start and the end. However, in the middle of the walk you have two options: a north Thames route which includes a FREE one hour visit to the Sky Garden. This is my recommendation.
And a route which continues along the south bank of the River Thames, and includes an optional visit to the Shard.
The Sky Garden and the Shard face each other, on opposite banks of the Thames. So it’s just not possible to see them both AND continue to Greenwich.
So why is the Sky Garden route recommended over the Shard route?
1. Height (and your view over London). Yes, the Shard is taller. But it’s just too tall. Yes, you can see for almost 40 miles on a good day. But on a cloudy day, you’ll be lucky to see 40cm! You’re in the middle of a cloud. And yes, they have this thing where they guarantee the view (if it’s cloudy, they simply give you a free ticket for another day – but what use is a free ticket for two weeks on Tuesday, if you’re only visiting London for a few days?).
2. Cost. A visit to the Sky Garden is free. Whereas a visit to The View From The Shard costs £28 (plus £10 to skip the queue & £16 for a glass of champagne at the top!).
3. The main reason though? The Shard is an expensive tourist trap!
Should you walk around London in a Day though?
Theoretically, and following this London in a Day DIY Walking Tour Guide, it is indeed possible to walk around London in a single day. Seeing the most popular visitor attractions in central London, and in Greenwich, along the way.
Should you walk around London in a day though?
If your time in London is very limited, then yes.
But there are a few things you should realise:
First, when I mentioned “seeing the most popular visitor attractions in central London” – that’s all you’ll have time for. “Seeing” them. From the outside as you pass. You just don’t have enough time to actually VISIT the most popular visitor attractions in central London;
Next, you need to be quite fit. It’s a LONG day seeing all that central London has to offer. And although the Docklands Light Railway, London’s Cable Car and the public river ferry back along the Thames cover most of the distance, you will still be walking for 19 kilometres too. So make sure that you wear comfortable shoes;
Finally, wheelchair users. If you use a powerchair, and your battery is fully charged (and you have a range of at least 25 kilometres), then it is definitely possible. If you use a manual wheelchair though, don’t even think about seeing London in one day. It’s just too far (and even the fittest of wheelchair pushers might do themselves a mischief).
London in a Day DIY Walking Tour #1 (Sky Garden Option) - Directions:
[These are very thorough walking directions – you shouldn’t be getting lost in London following this guide. However, I definitely recommend that you follow the Google Streetview route of the entire London in a Day DIY Walking Tour #1 (Sky Garden Option) 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 – Westminster Underground Station [MAP]:
When you exit Westminster Underground Station, you will see Big Ben (on the opposite side of the street, and slightly to your left – and the Houses of Parliament will be directly ahead of you).
Westminster Underground Station is wheelchair accessible, but check the official Transport for London Step-free Tube Guide map to ensure that your originating station is accessible too, plus any Underground stations where you will change trains (quite a few London Underground stations are not accessible, and some of those that are, are only accessible when you are travelling in a certain direction).
Turn RIGHT as you exit the station, and walk down to the first pedestrian crossing;
The Houses of Parliament & Big Ben [MAP]:
With the Houses of Parliament on your left, walk to the pedestrian crossing at the end of Parliament Square;
Crossing the street here is a two-step process. First, cross to the traffic island. Once there, you then have two options. Use the crossing on your left (as you arrive). After crossing the second pedestrian crossing, turn RIGHT (keeping the railings of Westminster Abbey on your left);
Westminster Abbey [MAP]:
With Westminster Abbey at your back, walk to the pedestrian crossing to your LEFT. You will actually be using two pedestrian crossings here: the first crosses Victoria Street, and the second crossing, which will then be immediately in front of you, crosses Tothill Street. Then continue walking along this side of Storey’s Gate;
You may feel like you are getting a bit lost at this stage, as the streets become smaller, and you may feel that you are getting away “from the action”. But worry not. Just follow these directions and you wont get “lost in London”;
Storey’s Gate [MAP]:
As you proceed along Storey’s Gate, you will pass/cross two side streets (and a pedestrian lane) that appear on your LEFT. First, you will cross Matthew Parker Street (followed quickly by the pedestrian lane of Lewisham Street); and then finally Old Queen Street;
Birdcage Walk [MAP]:
At the end of Storey’s Gate, turn LEFT into Birdcage Walk, and continue to the pedestrian crossing ahead (about 20m). After crossing Birdcage Walk, again turn LEFT – so that St.James’s Park is now immediately on your right. Continue walking along this side of Birdcage Walk, until you come to the entrance to the park on your right (about 100m);
St. James’s Park [MAP]:
On entering St. James’s Park, walk straight ahead (perpendicular to the street). St. James’s Park Lake will be ahead of you;
St. James’s Park Lake [MAP]:
After crossing the bridge over St. James’s Park Lake, immediately turn RIGHT, and make a clockwise circuit of the entire lake. There are a couple of takeaway eating/drinking places along this route (and also St. James’s Park Playground, which will keep any younger walkers amused);
After returning to the same point, by the bridge again, turn LEFT towards the rather ornate Marlborough Gate exit (there is a signpost by the bridge, just follow the arrow that says “Toilets” [MAP];
Marlborough Gate Exit [MAP]:
Just before you reach the exit at Marlborough Gate, you will again find a food/drink takeaway kiosk and, VERY IMPORTANTLY, the public toilets (which include an accessible toilet). Unless you will be visiting the inside of Buckingham Palace, this is the last accessible toilet until you reach the National Gallery on Trafalgar Square (which is almost an hour away!). So best to use these toilets;
After you exit St. James’s Park at the Marlborough Gate entrance/exit, immediately turn LEFT and walk along The Mall (you will see Buckingham Palace, and the Victoria Memorial in front of it, directly ahead of you [MAP];
Buckingham Palace [MAP]:
Once you reach the railings surrounding Buckingham Palace, turn RIGHT and walk to the right hand corner – where you will find a pedestrian crossing (which crosses Constitution Hill);
Green Park [MAP]:
After crossing here, enter Green Park, and walk through the park (you will use various different paths, but always head in a northeast direction); eventually arriving at the “Statue of Goddess Diana” (statue/water fountain) [MAP];
Just behind the statue, and to the right of the entrance to Green Park Underground Station, you will see a path leading up to Piccadilly. This is the steepest part of the walk – but it’s not anywhere near impossibly steep (wheelchairs will need a good push here though);
Once you reach the pavement again, immediately turn RIGHT;
The Ritz Hotel [MAP]:
You will now pass under the covered arches of London’s Ritz Hotel (if you’ve made a booking for afternoon tea at the Ritz (not generally accessible, but contact them directly BEFORE you book, and they will explain what alternative arrangements they can make for you);
Piccadilly Circus [MAP]:
Continue walking along Piccadilly in the same direction, and you will ultimately come to Piccadilly Circus. There is a pedestrian crossing here, which will take you across Regent Street Saint James’s to the Shaftesbury Memorial Fountain (and the Statue of Eros) [MAP];
Coventry Street [MAP]:
Continue walking in the same direction, now on Coventry Street, towards Leicester Square, crossing both Haymarket and then Oxenden Street, as you go (again, there are pedestrian crossings at each).
This is also the highest point of the walk. Although barely noticeable in the main, you will have been steadily going uphill since you first entered Green Park. The height gain is only around 10m though. Hardly noticeable, but I tell you this now – as it heralds good news: it’s all downhill from here (until you reach Westminster again). So the uphill bit has been at the start – and you now have the easiest part of the walk to look forward to;
Leicester Square [MAP]:
The area surrounding Leicester Square, and Leicester Square itself of course, is pedestrainsed. Walk diagonally through the gardens in Leicester Square (passing the statues of Mary Poppins, Charlie Chaplin and Paddington Bear) to the southeast corner, which leads to Irving Street;
Charing Cross Road [MAP]:
Turn RIGHT and walk down Charing Cross Road to Trafalgar Square (passing the National Portrait Gallery as you go – as you pass the entrance to the National Portrait Gallery, you will see the steps and columns of St Martin-in-the-Fields church on the opposite side of Charing Cross Road [MAP]);
The National Gallery [MAP]:
Moments after you pass the entrance to the National Portrait Gallery, turn RIGHT into Trafalgar Square. On your left you will see the rather impressive Nelson’s Column (and the Trafalgar Square fountains). On your right, is the imposing facade of the National Gallery.
Entry to the National Gallery is free (to view the main collection – there is a charge to see certain special exhibitions). The main, columned, Portico entrance is stepped though. Wheelchair users should continue past the main entrance, and enter the National Gallery via the Sainsbury Wing entrance. There are toilets (and accessible toilets) on the floors above and below the Sainsbury Wing entrance;
Trafalgar Square [MAP]:
There are steps down to Trafalgar Square from this northern side. However, there is a wheelchair accessible way in (via the southern entrance by Nelson’s Column). To reach this point, wheelchair users will have to travel on the pavements around Trafalgar Square;
After leaving Trafalgar Square by the southern exit (next to Nelson’s Column), a series of pedestrian crossings, all with dropped pavements as usual, will take you to the western side of Whitehall (the right hand side as you walk down it from Trafalgar Square);
Whitehall (Downing Street):
As you proceed down the right hand pavement of Whitehall, you will first come to the Household Cavalry Museum (and to the mounted guards at the entrance [MAP]), and then to the entrance of Downing Street [MAP] and on to the Cenotaph (war memorial);
The Cenotaph [MAP]:
Just after passing the Cenotaph, and just before you reach the arched entrance to King Charles Street, there is a pedestrian crossing which will take you across to the pavement on the other side of Whitehall. It is very important that you cross here. Continue to the end of Whitehall, where you will turn LEFT;
Westminster Underground Station (again);
After turning left at the end of Whitehall, you will see Westminster Bridge ahead of you. You will soon pass the main entrance to Westminster Underground Station again (on your left), and you will see Big Ben (on the opposite side of the street – on your right) [MAP];
Pedestrian Crossing #1 [MAP]:
Continue walking straight ahead unti you reach the Pedestrian Crossing (light-controlled, dropped kerbs) that crosses Victoria Embankment and takes you on to Westminster Bridge. This is actually a two-stage crossing, but there are dropped kerbs at all necessary points;
Westminster Bridge – London Eye View [MAP]:
Midway across Westminster Bridge you have another another of THE best views in London (this time, you are treated to an uninterrupted view of the London Eye);
Step-free Detour 1 [MAP]:
When you reach the end of Westminster Bridge, at the “South Bank Lion”, there is a flight of steps, on your left, heading down onto “The Queen’s Walk” (the River Thames Walkway in central London).
Those who can manage steps, should take these steps, and continue in the direction of the London Eye.
If you use a wheelchair though, continue following the road (now with the County Hall building on your left), until you reach the very first road junction (the junction of Westminster Bridge Road and Belvedere Road). Turn LEFT here (the County Hall building will still be on your left). At the end of the County Hall building, turn LEFT again – you will see the London Eye directly in front of you (and the London Eye ticket office and accessible toilet will be inside the County Hall building on your left);
In my opinion, the first bridge that you come to (BEFORE you actually pass under the bridge) is by far the best, as it offers amazing views of both the London Eye (on this bank) [PIC], and of Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament (on the other).
Wheelchair access to the bridge is available via a lift (which is located under the glass-walled steps).
Once up on the bridge, walk/roll to around midway, where you’ll have an amazing view. Before retracing your steps, and continuing along the river Thames walkway;
Southbank Centre [MAP]:
You will next see the Southbank Centre on yout right. There are wheelchair accessible toilets and eating/drinking options here;
Just before “Gabriel’s Wharf”, there is an excellent Observation Point, which has great views across the River Thames, and overlooks “Thames Beach”;
Queen Victoria Street [MAP]:
To continue towards St.Paul’s Cathedral, you will have to cross the motorised Queen Victoria Street. There is a light-controlled pedestrian crossing here, and dropped kerbs allowing easy crossing for wheelchairs;
Pedestrian Crossing [MAP]:
At the end of Sermon Lane, you will come to another light-controlled pedestrain crossing (again with dropped kerbs on both sides). This will allow you to cross Cannon Street, and visit St.Paul’s Cathedral;
After the crossing, you will arrive at the South Entrance [MAP] to St.Paul’s Cathedral. As the main entrance is at the steps to the West Entrance [MAP], turn LEFT here, and walk to the West Entrance (and those famous steps).
The accessible entrance (newly built) is on the opposite side of St.Paul’s Cathedral though (at the North Entrance [MAP]). To reach it from the pedestrian crossing, turn LEFTafter the pedestrian crossing, pass the main West Entrance (and those steps), and follow the building around until you reach the North Entrance on the opposite side;
Exiting St.Paul’s Cathedral is fairly straightforward too. Regardless of how you leave:
Walkers who entered St.Paul’s Cathedral via the West Entrance should turn right, and then turn right again. Until they are on the path called St.Paul’s Churchyard (which isn’t actually within the railings that surround St.Paul’s Cathedral, but is the name of the public footpath that encompasses it here). Eventually, you will see the North Entrance, (where wheelchair using visitors to St.Paul’s Cathedral will exit St.Paul’s Cathedral, then the St.Paul’s Cathedral grounds), and who will then also turn RIGHT here.
Continue along St.Paul’s Churchyard until the end where you will see a pedestrian crossing in front of you (slightly to your left). This pedestrian crossing is also light-controlled, with dropped kerbs on either side, and crosses New Change;
New Change [MAP]:
Should you wish to visit the One New Change shopping centre (wheelchair users might, as there is a fantastic view of the dome of St.Paul’s Cathedral from the roof here, and you will have been deprived of an above-floor view of St.Paul’s Cathedral when you visited St.Paul’s Cathedral itself. There’s a bar/restaurant on the roof of One New Change too – plus a RADAR key operated accessible toilet).
Otherwise, cross Cheapside here (at the second pedestrian crossing – again with dropped kerbs on either side), turn RIGHT, and walk straight ahead/east along Cheapside (there are a few side-streets to cross on the way along Cheapside – but ALL have dropped kerbs where required). Along the way, you will see St Mary-le-Bow Church (on the opposite side of the street[MAP]). Designed by Sir Christopher Wren, and being born within earshot of it’s bells, defines being Cockney;
Bank of England [MAP]:
Once you reach the end of Cheapside (which eventually becomes Poultry – same street, same direction, just a different street name), you reach Bank Underground station (the columned Mansion House is on the opposite side of the road from here – the official residence of the Lord Mayor of London).
Cross the side street coming from your left here (Princes Street), and continue towards the magnificent Bank of England building;
After taking a quick pic of the Bank of England building, retrace your steps to the junction, and cross the road (Threadneedle Street – which should now be on your LEFT), to yet another magnificent building: The Royal Exchange;
The Royal Exchange [MAP]:
With the Royal Exchange building behind you/on your left after walking back to the main road junction again, cross Cornhill at the pedestrian crossing – and turn RIGHT;
Lombard Street [MAP]:
After passing around the front of the the round-fronted 1 Cornhill building, walk along the same left hand pavement of Lombard Street, keeping to the pavement )DON’T follow the bigger road that veers away to the right here).
Lombard Street is comparitively narrow, and you may think that you are going the wrong way (as there are wider/bigger streets to follow). But rest assured you are going in the right direction (you should now see your next destination looming in the sky in front of you: 20 Fenchurch Street – nicknamed “The Walkie-Talkie”, home to the Sky Garden). Again, there are a number of side-streets to cross on Lombard Street – but ALL are wheelchair friendly where required.
At the end of Lombard Street, but before you reach the actual road junction, a pedestrian crossing (light-controlled with dropped kerbs) will take you across Lombard Street to the right-hand pavement;
Gracechurch Street [MAP]:
After crossing Lombard Street, turn LEFTat the end of the crossing, then immediately turn RIGHT (into Gracechurch Street), but immediately cross Gracechurch Street at the pedestrian crossing here.
At the end of the pedestrian crossing, turn RIGHT, and continue along the left hand pavement of Gracechurch Street;
As you walk along the left hand pavemeng of Gracechurch Street, you should see The Monument (your next destination) ahead of you. Keep to the left hand pavement as the main road veers away. At the end of the pavement/at the corner of Eastcheap, another pedestrian crossing (light-controlled, dropped kerbs) will take you across Eastcheap. At the end of the crossing, walk STRAIGHT AHEADdown Fish Street Hill. The Monument will soon appear on your LEFT;
Built to commemorate the starting point of the Great Fire of London in 1666. If you’re feeling fit, you can pay (currently £5.80) to climb the interior spiral staircase of 345 steps. The views over the City of London from the top must have been exceptional when it was built in the 17th Century. However, the towering skyscrapers of the City of London now dwarf it, and if you have pre-booked a visit to the Sky Garden (coming shortly), you will enjoy much better views (from the 160m of the Sky Garden, instead of the 62m of the Monument).
Because of the steps, the Monument is NOT accessible;
After visiting the Monument, retrace your steps to the Gracechurch Street crossing. Do NOT cross the road here, but turn RIGHT instead (along Fenchurch Street). You will soon see the “Walkie-Talkie” building (which houses the Sky Garden on its 43rd-floor viewing platform) on your RIGHT;
Sky Garden [MAP]:
The Sky Garden is accessible to all, and entry is free of charge. However, to control visitor numbers at any one time, timeslots/tickets must be booked in advance. Tickets are available to book up to three weeks in advance of your visit.
However, “walk-in ” tickets may be available on the day when you arrive (if the Sky Garden is not too busy – you’ll have zero chance of getting a walk in ticket at the weekend though!).
There’s a bar & two restaurant at the top (and accessible toilets).
Entrance tickets are valid for 1 hour only though (enough time to have a look around, take in the stunning views over London, maybe have a drink, and access the wheelchair accessible toilets).
If you have a restaurant reservation though, you do not need an access ticket – and there is no time limit to your visit (there are two restaurants in the Sky Garden);
Rood Lane [MAP]:
As you leave the main entrance to the Sky Garden on Fenchurch Street, turn RIGHT, and then turn RIGHT again, and walk down the small Rood Lane beside the “Walkie-Talkie” building. At the end of Rood Lane, turn LEFT and continue along Eastcheap again;
Great Tower Street [MAP]:
Eastcheap soon becomes Great Tower Street (same street, same direction – just a different street name). Follow Great Tower Street to the end, on this LEFT hand pavement. And at the end/at the junction with Byward Street. At this junction, turn LEFT into Byward Street (again staying on the same left hand pavement);
Byward Street -> Tower Hill [MAP]:
There are a number of side-streets as you continue along Byward Street (which soon becomes Tower Hill – same street, same direction, just a different street name). All side-streets have dropped kerbs at the corners.
As you walk along Tower Hill, you will pass (on your LEFT) the Tower Hill Monument (a monument to the Merchant Navy);
Tower of London [MAP]:
Soon after the Tower Hill Memorial, you will come to a pedestrian crossing (light-controlled, dropped kerbs) which crosses Tower Hill to the Tower of London side of the road. Cross here, and turn LEFT;
Continue walking along this RIGHT hand pavement of Tower Hill until you reach Tower Bridge Road. Keeping to the pavement that you are currently walking along, turn RIGHT towards Tower Bridge itself;
Tower Bridge [MAP]:
Walk across Tower Bridge to the midpoint. This will give you excellent views: of HMS Belfast and The Shard on the south bank of the Thames; of the Tower of London and the financial district of the City of London on the north bank of the Thames; and downstream to the Docklands district (including Canary Wharf);
After taking in these great views from the midpoint of Tower Bridge, retrace your steps to the junction of Tower Bridge Road and Tower Hill;
At the Tower Hill junction that you passed before, you will see the first of several Pedestrian Crossings – that ultimately lead to Tower Gateway DLR Station. All these crossings are light-controlled, with dropped kerbs where required:
The first crossing [MAP], takes you across just one lane of traffic (the traffic will be coming from your right here). Only cross this one lane, stopping on the central traffic island. Turn LEFT here. You will see the next pedestrian crossing in front of you;
This second crossing also crosses just one lane [MAP] (the traffic also comes from your RIGHT here). When you reach the end of this crossing, turn LEFT, then immediately turn RIGHT which will bring you to the start of a third pedestrian crossing;
This third crossing (also in that picture from before – to the right), crosses two lanes of traffic (the first lane, traffic comesco from your LEFT, and traffic comes from both directions at the second lane). At the end of this third crossing, turn RIGHT, to the start of the fourth, and final, pedestrian crossing [MAP];
At the end of this final crossing [MAP], turn LEFT, and Tower Gateway DLR Station will be right in front of you;
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 IFS Cloud Cable Car at “IFS Cloud Royal Docks” 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);
IFS Cloud Cable Car [MAP]:
The IFS Cloud 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 WALK NOW ENDS