Friday, 27 May 2011

Weekday walk #12

Today we walked a section of the Thames that we've been looking forward to for a long time - the Isle of Dogs.  That big old loop in the Thames that gives the river such a distinctive shape on maps - and that you see on the credits for Eastenders.
Welcome to the Isle of Dogs

The Isle of Dogs is an odd place - curiously devoid of personality.  The north end is dominated by the business district of Canary Wharf, with huge office blocks, expensive restaurants and esplanades dotted with clean, varnished benches overlooking the river.  This part of the Isle of Dogs is wonderful to work in (I worked there for a while, many years ago) and pretty to walk around, but it feels like what it is - a monied, smart, anonymous, international business district.

New build
Foundations for a new office block, beside Canary Wharf
Canary Wharf
Looking up at Canary Wharf from the riverside

The bottom half of the Isle of Dogs is all residential, and very different from the bustling business district at the top.  Most of the housing is an assortment of bland, gated residential blocks with underground carparks, concierges, sculpted gardens, fountains, and expensive garden chairs perched on tiny balconies.  This is interspersed with social housing, tiny modern terraces and the occasional sad little children's playground.  Unlike most of the riverside I've walked along this year, I wouldn't want to live here.  There didn't seem to be a community hub anywhere, and there was virtually no reference to the area's long, and proud, dockside heritage.

Uninspiring tower blocks
Fancy residential blocks, protected by security cameras and steel gates
Isle of Dogs
No dockside heritage left, other than a few street names
But although I wouldn't want to live on the Isle of Dogs it was still a fascinating place to walk.  There were stunning views across the river to the old shipyards in Deptford, the naval college at Greenwich, and the Millennium Dome on the north Greenwich peninsula.  The tide had just turned and was rapidly going out, so there were a good number of beaches for us to (safely!) explore.
Looking towards the Dome from the Isle of Dogs

Metal on the beach

And this walk means that we have almost explored the whole of the Thames on both the north and south banks between Embankment and Woolwich.  There is just one tiny section left to do - from Blackwall, where we ended today's walk, to City Airport in Silvertown.  Perhaps also, we will walk a little further west from Embankment.

We are both sad to be finishing our riverside walks, and wondering how we can eke out a few more.  Possibly some of the Thames tributaries will be next on our list.  We love these river walks.

On the beach


  1. Thank you again for a lovely day out ,I used to love to walk and explore ,I still do but in my little mobility scooter ,so am abit limited nowadays,I posted again this week .on ...thanks again Jan xx

  2. I have always found Canary Wharf and surroundings exactly as you describe - there may be lots of money but it all feels a bit bleak.

    I've really enjoyed reading about your river walks. I hope you find some more too!

  3. Are you following a book? Please don't tell me you're those clever people who can just work out where to go by yourselves...

  4. the Isle of Dogs is such a weird place - I always found its lack of community/cosiness/something a bit sinister!

    Hope you come up with walking inspiration soon, I like my virtual London walks along with you!

  5. Could you walk upriver a bit, a la Jerome K Jerome (minus the boat)?


Even though I often do not have the time to reply to everybody, I really appreciate all your comments so much - thank you for taking the time to read my blog and share your thoughts on what I've written.