definitely not falling down...
11th June (Saturday) about 8 miles.
London's Bridges: Tower Bridge to Westminster
A walk along the banks of the River Thames from Tower Bridge crossing eight bridges to finish at Westminster Bridge. Taking in the historic Borough Market (London Bridge) for a late breakfast/brunch. The route has frequent stops with Centurion C.716 George Beecham to point out places of interest and provide historical comment.
Start: Fenchurch Street station, Fenchurch Place, London EC3M 4AJ at 10am.
Finish: around 4pm Westminster.
Aftert the walk finish, for those returning to Fenchurch Strreet (or anyone who is interested), there may be a visit to Covent Garden.
Just six walkers (George, Steve Kemp, John, Dave Hoben, Ken Livermore and Kathy Crilley) turned up for this walk along the historic River Thames. Weatherwise, it wasn't too bad - just a bit of rain early afternoon. But that didn't pt us off.
Around the corner from our start point, is St Olaves church. The church is first recorded in the 13th century as St Olave-towards-the-Tower, dedicated to the patron saint of Norway, King Olaf II of Norway, who fought alongside the Anglo-Saxon King Ethelred the Unready against the Danes in the Battle of London Bridge in 1014.
Our next stop was Trinity Square home to Trinity House close to Tower Hill underground station. This area is one of the oldest parts of London and archaeological evidence shows that there was a settlement on the hill in the Bronze Age and much later a Roman village that was burnt down during the Boudica uprising. Through the gardens and a quick stop to read the plaques listing all those "traitors" who lost their heads throughout the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries.
The entrance to Tower Hill station is a few metres from one of the largest remaining segments of the Roman London Wall which once surrounded the historic City of London. Then on to Tower Bridge itself and a walk down the south side of the Thames.
Passing City Hall and HMS Belfast we came across an amazing sculputure The Navigators by David Kemp in Hays Galleria - worth a visit if you are in that part of London. (see photos below).
The next bridge to cross was London Bridge but before we did (before it fell down) we stopped awhile in the amazing Borough Market for a bite to eat (well why not?)
Borough Market has existed in one form or another for around 1,000 years. Its precise start date is impossible to pin down: there was no official opening, no ribbon-cutting ceremony, not even a brief mention in a chronicle. The best date available, and the one used as the basis for the Market’s millennium celebration, is 1014.
"Borough, then as now, was a place defined by its position at one end of London Bridge, and for centuries, the only route across the river into the capital. It is likely that London’s first post-Roman bridge was constructed here in the mid-990s, partly to bolster the city’s defences against Viking raiders who routinely sailed up the Thames to kick seven shades of wattle and daub out of the locals."
Over the years it has expanded from the "traditional" market place to what it is today - simply known as Borough Market. Chilli squid anyone? Well worth a visit! We diverted into Southwark Cathedral for a few moments to take in the splendour of this Anglican church.
So we managed to get across London Bridge without mishap. As this day was also the celebration of the Queen's offical birthday, Trooping the Colour, etc, the official fly past was due at this very moment in time. Sadly, we missed it! It took a short cut across the City (instead of the traditional route up the Thames over Tower Bridge) and so the back makers of our walk just managed to catch a passing glimpse of the tail end Charlies.
So ever onwards on the north side of the river, we then walked along the Thames Path - down Hanseatic Walk, Wallbrook Wharf amd Three Cranes Walk to cross back to the south bank of the Thames over Southwark Bridge. Here we walked along Bankside where we stopped to check out the Globe Theatre - a replica of Shakespeare theatre. Close to Tate Modern we crossed back over the "wibbly wobbly" bridge - also known as the Millennium Bridge. Looking straight ahead we had a magnificant view of St Paul's Cathedral. The first St Paul's Cathedral was built in 604 A.D. and subsequent Cathedrals until the Great Fire of London in 1666. Rebuilt by Christopher Wren, the Cathderal will be part of the 350th anniversary celebrations of the Great Fire takjing place in 2016-2017.
Back along the Thames Path to Blackfriars Bridge and the new station another crossing over the river to walk along the riverside to pass the National Theatre to ascend the step to Waterloo Bridge over to Embankment. Here we stopped for a short break and a cuppa in Victoria Embankment Gardens sheltering from the rain under a well placed large tree. Over Hungerford Bridge and joining the throng of tourists by the London Eye we made our final crossing over Westminster Bridge to finish a very pleasant social walk.
With thanks to Steve Kemp, the Centurions Social Secretary and to George Beecham who led the walk and made sure we learnt our history!