A dog day out to see the Thames Barriers
The planned itinerary:
- DLR (from Bank or Tower Gateway towards Woolwich Arsenal) to Pontoon Dock station
- Short walk to Thames Barrier Park
- Enjoy some time at the Thames Barrier Park
- Walk to Woolwich Foot Tunnel (∼30 minutes)
- Cross the river through the Woolwich Foot Tunnel
- Walk on the riverside to the View Café and Information Centre (not dog-friendly inside) (∼30 minutes) and admire the Thames Barriers
- Take the bus towards North Greenwich to get to The Jetty Peninsula (you can also walk there with another ∼30-minute walk on a river walk)
- Have lunch/brunch/coffee at The Jetty
- Walk to the Greenwich Peninsula’s Emirates Air Line Cable Car terminal (∼10 minutes)
- Take the cable car to Emirates Air Line Cable Car Royal Dock terminal
- Walk to Royal Victoria DLR station (less than 5 minutes)
Before telling you more about the route, a warning is needed: if you are looking to take your date on a dog adventure, this may not be the most romantic one, and I would advise you stick to the second part of the itinerary only, instead. Don’t expect the views you can enjoy from the Thames Path in Central London. In fact, while the start of the route is beautiful, with the Thames Barrier Park offering some great landscapes, from there onwards you will find yourself walking in an industrial and not very curated area to reach the Woolwich Foot Tunnel. Also, the leg from the Thames Barrier Information Centre on the South side of the river to the Jetty (that we didn’t test but navigated via Google View) doesn’t promise a great landscape either to be honest.
So if your purpose is just doing something different than usual and tick the box on the London landscape list for the Thames Barriers, then keep reading, otherwise this route is a better option.
On the day, we concluded our dog adventure at number 6. However, we will tell you about the last leg and you can find our review of the dog day out between The Jetty and the Emirates Air Line Cable Car with a dog in our previous post.
A dog visit to Thames Barrier Park
After a DLR ride, enjoying the view of financial district skyscrapers, Billingsgate Market the O2 and the river, you will arrive a Pontoon Dock. This is a very quiet area with many new buildings and which looks under further development.
It takes just a couple of minutes walk from the DLR station to get to the Thames Barrier Park. The park is extremely curated, with cut edges resembling waves, plants, newly planted trees in rows, an impeccable lawn, and other features (including a children playground). There is also a little building on the back of the park, but unfortunately we found that the cafe that was hosted in there had closed until further notice. The lawns in the park offer the perfect location to give your dog a good run or play fetch. Visiting with Argo, we met a little Frenchie and they loved each other.
Thames Barrier Park, as the name suggests, overlooks the river and offers the perfect view on the Thames Barrier, one of the largest movable flood barrier in the world. There you will find some spots which offer good photo opportunities too. If you are interested in learning more about this engineering and architectural giant, there is an interesting guidance issued by the Environment Agency page which explains in detail the purpose and functioning of the barrier, which you can find at this page (you can also visit the Thames Barrier Information Centre, on the other side, and of which I will talk more below in this post, but that is a non-dog-friendly attraction unfortunately).
The shiny barrier, which resembles the sails of a vessel, looks so modern that I would have never guessed that it was actually designed in the 70s and completed in the 80s, but an expert architectural eye may do better than myself, of course.
Thames Barrier Park to Woolwich Foot Tunnel
As soon as you leave the residential area, you find yourself walking on a route that has nothing beautiful, really, apart the view of the Brick Lane Music Hall at the start of North Woolwich Road. You enter then Factory Road, that passes through the industrial area (there is Tate & Lyle Sugars factory, but we found no nice fragrances coming from there). Once you pass the factory and turn on Hemley Road, in direction of the river, you just find a poorly maintained riverfront until Woolwich Foot Tunnel entrance, which is located in a large square.
Woolwich Foot Tunnel
Similarly to its Greenwich sibling (the Greenwich Foot Tunnel), the Woolwich Foot Tunnel has a long winding staircase leading to the bottom of the river, as well as a lift alternative. Entering the staircase, we were struck for the pretty bad smell (some uncivilised person must have decided to use it for a different scope), but the tunnel was fine.
I am always fascinated by walking “underwater” while Argo doesn’t seem to notice any difference. Arriving on the other end of the tunnel, we took the lift up and came out on the riverside. The entrance of the tunnel is just paces frmo the Woolwich Ferry Centre, from which departs the Woolwich Ferry. This River Bus service (which, as we already told in a previous blog post, is dog-friendly), connects Woolwich and North Woolwich and is an alternative to the tunnel, is currently closed until late December 2018.
From there, we took the wrong route (Google Maps sent us on the main road, which is large and quite busy), but we later realised that it was possible to walk the full route on the riverside and we just missed the entrance point. However, we were able to get back on track at the Clockhouse Community Centre and enjoy the river view, a much nicer one than the one of the previous stretch. In fact, from the path you can see both the Thames Barriers and Canary Wharf’s skyscrapers standing out on the horizon and it is a pleasant walk until the Thames Side Studios. There you will have to circumnavigare the development, to arrive at the Thames Barrier View Café and Information Centre.
Thames Barriers and View Café and Visitor Centre
Arriving to the Thames Barrier on the South side of the Thames, the view was quite different than from the North side one. The weather had become cloudy and very cold and windy, so we would have loved to sit down for a hot chocolate at the View Café. Unfortunately, the Thames Barriers View Café and Visitor Centre are not dog-friendly, as the sign outside indicates (no dogs except guide dogs). However, they have a dog water bowl outside, and I was told by the manager (a big dog lover) that they normally allow dogs at the tables on the terrace at the manager’s discretion. He added that, in occasion of some particular events, in the past they have allowed small well-behaved and quiet dogs inside the café, although this is was not for granted and had been again at the manager’s discretion.
By the time concluded the chat, my husband got almost frozen outside in the cold and wind, so we decided to end the adventure and head to a warm place. With a couple of minutes walk we reached the bus stop on Woolwich Road, where we could take a bus to North Greenwich for a tube connection.
If it is a sunny day, you can easily stop a bit before with the bus and head to The Jetty Peninsula for lunch. We really love the place and are sure that you will too. It is perfect for a Summer day, but you can still enjoy the cosy ambience and place. For more about it, and how to continue your adventure on the Cable Car, you can read our review with all tips here.
Things to keep in mind for your visit:
- on the way you won’t find much in terms of cafes or shops, unless you want to make a detour, so it is good to bring a bottle of water not just for your dog but also for yourself and some snack, just in case.
- the second tip is start your day out early in the morning, so you can arrive at The Jetty for lunch, where the Vagabond Food Café is open 10-22 daily. To give you an idea of times, we arrived at the Thames Barrier Park before 11am and were at North Greenwich station around 2pm.