Naval shipbuilding started in Woolwich some 500 years ago and this walk will take you through the historic dockyards. From there it goes through industrial Charlton and on to re-developed North Greenwich. It takes about one and a half hours.
From the Woolwich Ferry car park you follow the Thames Path/Capital Ring sign with an image of a barge. Walk west towards the Thames Barrier. As you walk through Mast Pond Wharf you will see the remains of two of the former dockyard slips. Further on you will pass the two water filled docks. There is a mosaic on the path done by the National Elfrida Rathbone Society 1984-86. At Gun Battery 1847 there are still some guns that over look the river. At this point you can turn left and explore the Woolwich Clock House 1783-4 which is now a community centre further along you will see the gates to the dockyard.
Woolwich Dockyard was built in 1514 by Henry VIII for the construction of his ship ‘Harry Grace a Dieu’. Royal Navy vessels were built at the yard until its closure in 1869. Return to the Thames path and climb over the modern stile in the shape of a ship overlooking the Thames. At this point you need to follow the sign for the interim route which takes you through Woolwich Dockyard housing estate. This is the site of the former Woolwich steam factory. The introduction of steam ships in the Royal Navy resulted in the construction of two steam yards at Woolwich, the first opened in 1831 and the second in 1843. Parts of this have survived you will see the chimney and the old building facing Ruston Road is a partial remnant. As you approach the small round about take a look at the building now used by the Co-operative Funeralcare. This was the Woolwich Dockyard School for Apprentices.
Turn right on to the Woolwich Road. You will pass an imposing corner pub Clancy’s which was formerly the Lord Horwick Hotel and the adjacent Horwick Mansions 1898. Just past Windrush Primary School turn right into a small park area with signs to the Thames Barrier. The Barrier was constructed by the Greater London Council between 1974-82. It spans 520 metres across the River Thames and protects central London from flooding caused by tidal surges.On the right hand side there is the former Siemens Factory 1863 which is now Second Floor Studios and Arts. The original factory was used to manufacture submarine cables.
From the Thames Barrier it is 2 miles to the 02 Arena along the Thames Path. The path first takes you through the Charlton riverside which is still predominantly industrial Angerstein and Murphy’s Wharves are still used by aggregates factory. The Anchor and Hope is on the riverside with great views and still a traditional pub but perhaps for not much longer. There is a Chalrton Masterplan which will transform this area in the future. More riverside apartments are planned along this stretch of the river.
Close to Greenwich Ecology Park you will see a Polar Sundial. It was a gift from the Worshipful company of Tylers and Bricklayers to commemorate the tenth anniversary of Maritime Greenwich selection as a World Heritage Site. The sundial has lots of information about Maritime Greenwich. It also tells you how to read a polar sundial which I found far too complicated.
Walk through the Ecology Park to West Parkside and turn right. On the left hand side you will come to River Way and The Pilot Public House. There is a row of eight cottages built in 1801 and known as Ceylon Place. These late Georgian artisans’ houses were constructed for workers at adjacent tidal mill and chemical works. From here you can walk to the 02 Arena for public transport.