Sunday, 13 May 2012

Day out on the Greenwich Peninsula

Panoramic shot of south side of Thames River at the Greenwich Peninsula
The shot above is of a stretch of the river running from the O2 arena ('the Dome' for oldies) on the right, to the edge of the Greenwich Yacht Club on the left. It was taken standing outside of the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Centre.

Here's a map of the local area, with the photo span marked in red.

We ended up unexpectedly at this spot having had a lovely lunch at the Pilot Inn, a pub dating back to 1801, a lone clump of small buildings clinging on in a no-man's land, despite the building of the O2 arena and the 'Millennium Village' around it. Despite this, it is a pub with a lovely feel, including an outside garden. My Greenwich-born and bred husband remembers uncles coming to drink here at 'their local' when it was still set in a light industrial area.
We sauntered from the pub through the 'Greenwich Millennium Village', brightly coloured newish flats, with mecano balconies built as part of the regeneration of this area at the turn of the millennium. Some of the balconies overlooked waterways, giving a holiday feel to the place (well it was sunny!). At times we walked along boarded walkways through the reeds and nesting birds. This is where the village butts on to the Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park.

Then our view expanded and we came out to a stretch of river, with the O2 to the right, with the new cable car ('Emirates Air Line') testing going on, and the Greenwich Yacht Club to the right. (You can read more about the fascinating cable car project here.) Ducking under the fencing, we got onto 'the beach'. It seemed amazing to find such a relatively unspoilt part of the river where you could get up and close. Little boats bobbed, and the water lapped up on the sand, pebbles and debris. The children became engrossed in beachcombing - lots of pottery, though more C20th than Roman. A word of warning though - we could see from the dampness underfoot that the water comes right up to the top when the tide is in. You should never stray far from being able to get back up onto the walkway.

The Greenwich Yacht Club founded in 1908 by "Thames waterman and river workers. It was been through various reincarnations, and in its current new clubhouse since 2000. It apparently has over 400 members. There's something about this building that it magical - the way it stands on its stalks, the way it is thrust out into the middle of the river, I don't know. Maybe it is just the envious sight of people lazing on the top balcony with a drink, overlooking the river.

Then, just by the Yacht Club we spotted this impromptu 'beach sculpture' which someone had assembled in the shape of an ornate bench, presumably from beach debris. I wonder who was responsible for this bit of creativity?

It was a good afternoon spent discovering this bit of riverside, linking in with our visit last weekend to the 'Royal Rivers' exhibition at Greenwich's National Maritime Museum, though quite different to some of those opulent scenes.

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