Alternative Rides – East London

The lockdown created a great chance to explore outside of our normal range Surrey, Kent and East Sussex so I decided to try different routes around London. The Grand Union Canal to Southall, Regents Canal, the Lee Valley Canal and the Colne Valley River route. My favourite was around East London.

A simple ride across to along route 21 towards Greenwich diverting through Blackheath where the unspectacular site of Whitefield’s Mound disguises the history of this area. The mound was formerly referred to as ‘Wat Tyler’s Mound’ as there were apparently speeches to the rebels in the Peasant’s Revolt there on 12 June 1381 before they marched on to London. The current name is after George Whitefield an 18th century evangelical Anglican preacher who was one of the founding fathers of Methodism. He used The Mount to preach to large crowds, estimated as being up to 20,000, singing from the meetings could be heard 2 miles off, and his voice 1 mile away.

Next up is the Woolwich ferry. Much better than using the tunnel. A ferry has operated on the Thames at Woolwich since the 14th century, and commercial crossings operated intermittently until the mid-19th. The free service opened in 1889 after tolls were abolished on bridges to the west of London.

Across the river in North Woolwich are the Royal Docks. The far eastern point across the dock is Gallions Reach. Named after a wealthy local family, not the ships. You get a great view across the Albert and Victoria Docks towards the Canary Warf.

The Excel Centre is at the Western end of the docks and you can take an excursion on the Emirates Cable car. Cheaper to take two single tickets than getting a return! The views across to Canary Warf are great!

After passing the East India Dock you go through the Isle of Dogs where the West India docks were. All pretty until you go into Poplar and Shadwell where Call the Midwife is set. Still a bit rundown unlike Limehouse Basic which is very swish now!

Wapping was a very rundown area with Newspaper companies but is very popular with tourists. Cobbled streets look very pretty but are a bit hard on the saddle.

The famous Prospect of Whitby pub has a set of stairs going down to a river beach where at low tide you can collect treasure and the Gallows. This was the area around Execution Dock where river pirates were hung on a short rope forcing them to choke to death. They were then left until covered by the high tide three times.

Back across towards Docklands
Spillers Mill in Silvertown

Shortly afterwards you get to Tower Bridge where you can cycle on to London Bridge or just cycle off home through the cycling streets of London. I have honestly come closer to being wiped out in the countryside than on these cycle routes.