A River Walk

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The Cutty Sark at Greenwich was a good place to start. It was the weekend of the Greenwich Tall Ships Festival, the biggest gathering of tall ships in London for 25 years. They had all set sail from Falmouth to race to the Isle of Wight before celebrating in Greenwich.

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It was a hands on experience, everyone had a chance to float their boat. Some climbed the rigging, others spliced the mainbrace or joined the Sea Cadets and listened to Jonah in the belly of a whale.

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We walked by the Old Royal Naval College, past the water gate where a full-rigged ship sat at anchor.

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This is Hydrogen, a Thames sailing barge from Maldon in Essex.

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Down by the jetty on Crowleys Wharf alongside Greenwich Power Station.

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Enderby Wharf is where the world’s first telegraph cables were made.

From the 1850s to the 1970s Enderby Wharf in Greenwich is where people made most of the undersea cables that connect the world’s telegraph, telephone and now internet networks. More than 160 years after the first cables were made there, a factory behind Enderby Wharf still makes vital equipment for subsea cables to connect the world’s internet services.

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The Dar Mlodziezy sailed here from Poland.

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The J R Tolkien came from the Netherlands.

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This old gasometer is on the site of the East Greenwich Gas Works. It closed in the 1970s but this beautiful structure remains. I’m not used to encountering it on foot. More usually it’s seen as I drive past on my way to the Blackwall Tunnel and the whole fantastic mesh seems to revolve as I pass by.

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Down on Greenwich Peninsula (here it’s pronounced Grinitch) at the Victoria Deep Water Terminal were moored six tall ships – Queen Galadriel, Eye of The Wind, Kapitan Borchardt, Pelican of London, Fryderyk Chopin, Stavros S Niarchos – and the Oosterschelde sailed downriver.

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And not only were there tall ships, there were tall people too…

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a long-legged matelot girl…

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a tall-tailed mermaid…

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and a long deep sea diver supporting a short broadside minstrel.

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This curious piece of a ship sat like a bygone remnant. I photographed it but didn’t really give it much thought until I saw that it had a name and realised it was a Millennium artwork by Richard Wilson.

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This sculpture was one of many commissioned as part of the Millennium celebrations in 2000. The story goes that in 2001 the organisers asked all the artists to remove their work. Wilson claimed that since his was in the river, it was outside their jurisdiction. He bought the necessary mooring rights and the work has remained in-situ ever since!MIMOA

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Over the river on the north side of the Thames, at the confluence with the River Lea, stands London’s only lighthouse on Trinity Buoy Wharf. It houses another Millennium artwork, the sound of Tibetan singing bowls set to continue until the next Millennium without repetition – Longplayer.

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panorama

This river panorama begins with Anish Kapoor’s distant Orbit in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and ends with Antony Gormley’s Quantum Cloud next to the Millennium Dome – click to enlarge.

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The O2 is a popular visitor attraction for personally challenged hill walkers in search of an expedition.

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The Greenwich Meridian cuts across the Thames path and extends horizontally over the river towards a wooden jetty, from where it rises vertically towards infinity.

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The Cutty Sark in Greenwich was a good place to finish… fin again, begin again…

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Frames of reference
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