ELL Walks – Deptford to the Millenium Dome

There are many different shades of south east London and a walk from Deptford high street right through to the Millenium Dome highlights them perfectly. There is a simple, direct route to follow but it is one that takes in street markets, magnificent views of the Thames, pretty backstreets, the half-formed dreams of developers, tourist hotspots and the strange industrial environs that surround the outer edge of Greenwich. This one is also good for cyclists as the Thames Path, on which most of this walk is based, goes way past the Dome and on the to the Thames barrier, providing a satisfying stretch to explore.

Lewisham walk info:

  • 2/3 hours long
  • Accessible by foot/bike
  • Comfortable shoes + London A-Z recommended
  • Street markets, pubs, picnic spots and great views along the way
  • For amateur psycho-geographers, inner-city explorers and anyone wanting to see the Thames up close and personal
  • Nearest stations are Deptford Bridge, Greenwich and North Greenwich

Deptford high street is the perfect place to get in the mood for a decent adventure. It’s best on market days (Wednesday, Friday, Saturday) when the place is buzzing and there’s loads of fresh food stalls to provide a packed lunch. There are traders who specialise in a wide range of hot and cold food or you can opt for one of the bakeries, but the stalls always hold the most delicious looking stuff. If the weather is nice, Deptford comes alive with chatter, reggae music and enticing smells; it’s a feel-good place when it wants to be. Walk all the way to the north end of the high street, turn right and you’re on your way.

Real ale hounds should know that the best pub in the world (not even kidding) is located just off the top of the high street. It’s called the Dog and Bell and is absolutely fantastic. If you were to imagine what a cosy, reasonably priced, chilled out, friendly pub with great ale, whiskey and Belgium beer would be like, it would be the Dog and Bell. It’s the perfect place for a pre-walk lunch or cheeky jar. They do a mean ploughmans and the beer is kept beautifully. The only problem is you might not want to leave.

There’s not much to see on Creek road and walking down it is a mere formality before you reach the Thames path, but it is the site of some incredibly out-of-place apartment blocks that are new to the area and a sign of the up-market times that are encroaching on the boundaries of Deptford. There’s also the matter of one of the area’s most excellent views. Stop and watch Canary Wharf and the length of the Thames from the bridge that crosses Deptford creek into Greenwich. It’s a magnificent, uplifting sight. Shame the foundations for another huge block of flats has been laid down right in front of it.

View East London Lines – Lewisham Walk in a larger map

Take a left down Norway street or Horseferry place to join the Thames Path. You’ll most likely be greeted by the throngs of tourists who converge on Greenwich every day but they are mostly harmless apart from the fact that many move very, very slowly. If you didn’t fancy anything in Deptford, Greenwich market also runs over the weekend and offers up a wide selection of stalls that sell good quality food for decent prices. The Ethiopian vendor comes highly recommended; for a fiver you’ll be dished up a carton of amazing vegetarian curry with flat bread. Greenwich market is worth it for the food; though beware if you’re not in the mood for crowds.

Greenwich town centre is set back from the Thames Path, but the market is slap bang in the middle of everything and easy to find. Once you get onto the path proper you’ll pass the Greenwich brewery, university and impressive naval buildings. There are cute spots for picnics but it’s worth carrying on and plunging into the curious wilderness beyond. Again, there are lots of pubs along the way (you could probably even do a Thames pub crawl along here) but keep on going to find the best parts of this walk.

Unhelpfully, Google maps doesn’t recognise the Thames Path, but it runs right along the edge of the river to the Dome. You’ll be better equipped if you have an A-Z to hand, though there’s not much chance of getting lost. Go past the Cutty Sark Tavern and the Pelton Arms, take in how pretty and archaic some of the Greenwich backstreets are and wander out to where some new apartment blocks are being built. Before the path starts proper, there’s a huge building site, but navigate around that and you should come to a footpath bordered by tall sheets of corrugated iron. This is it. It looks and feels like a mugger’s paradise, but you should be fine, especially during the day and considering that dog walkers, cyclists, families, lovers, loners and amateur photographers all come along here to enjoy the breeze and the relaxing atmosphere of the river.

Once you’re past the corrugated alley, the path stretches out with the Thames on one side and an industrial wilderness on the other. The first half of the walk to the Dome is banked by large walls that aren’t very interesting and force your attention to the river. One of the best things about the route is that the water literally laps right up against the path. It’s nice and quiet save for the creaking and clanking of some of the maritime debris. Canary Wharf appears like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow, it’s always somehow just out of reach, standing tall on the horizon.

You’ll then find that the path makes its way into lunar-esque industrial territory, where solitary cranes watch over huge piles of sand and gravel. The way to the Dome is literally through a building site, which is a strange but interesting experience. Instead of rolling hills, you’ll find rubble: this is inner-city rambling at its best! From here you’ll reach the Dome in no time at all. You can either head home from North Greenwich station, or carry on walking east along the river toward the Thames barrier.

Lewisham Playlist: Click here for a Spotify playlist to soundtrack your walk.

It includes a sunshine-infused mix of Lovers Rock, Roots Reggae, Dancehall and Dub from artists like Janet Kay, Mungos Hi-Fi, Alborosie, Tippa Irie, Smiley Culture and Mad Professor. You must have access to Spotify to use this feature.

Check out other ELL walks in Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Croydon.

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