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Westminster to Greenwich by boat

` boat trip from Greenwich to Westminster

Cutty SharkA trip on the River Thames to Westminster Tower is an excellent way to view England's capital city. From aboard one of the many cruise boats that enter into the heart of London from Tilbury, Gravesend or Greenwich, you experience a real sense of the history of this ancient and very important waterway route. Although we are told that London's river has treacherous currents, floating upstream on a small cruise boat seems an extremely tranquil and calm way to enter this busy city. Our journey began from Greenwich where we bought return tickets for 7.20 each for the 25 minute trip. Boats leave Greenwich pier at approximately every 30 minutes and if you purchase a return ticket the trip back can be taken at any time up to the last boat leaving London which is around 4.30 pm. Just opposite the ticket office the famous Cutty Sark is been restored after the distructive fire of 21 May 2007.

Sitting facing the stern of the boat gave us beautiful views of Greenwich with the Old Royal Naval College, designed by Sir Christopher Wren. (now Greenwich University), and Queen Anne's House on the river front. On the site of the Royal Naval College was the Palace of Placentia, which was an important royal palace in the 15th century and where King Henry VIII and Elizabeth I were both born. The palace was demolished in the 17th century although there are some remains of the ancient cellars that can be seen under the Queen Anne block.

GreenwichThe Queen's House was built in 1666 and designed by Inigo Jones. Although intended for the Queen of James I she died before it was finished so it ended up as the house for the Queen of Charles I. This building is now the Royal Maritime Museum. In the distance can be seen Greenwich Park and the Royal Observatory. There was an ancient oak tree in the park, known as Queen Elizabeth's Oak, where she was supposed to have played as a child. Unfortunately a severe storm a few years ago blew it down.

On this stretch of the river the banks are lined with blocks of flats of assorted architectural designs, some interesting and aesthetically pleasing, others less so. In front of us, in the distance you can see all the ultra modern buildings of London Docklands and Canary Wharf. This area is the new financial centre for London and has three of UK's tallest buildings within it: HSBC Tower, Citigroup Centre and Canary Wharf Tower. Built on the site of the old West India Docks on the Isle of Dogs the development project of London docklands received a lot of criticism and resistance throughout the 1980s. However, it has to be said, that this space-age financial centre, with its futuristic architecture, luxury riverside apartments, shops including the Jubilee Place shopping centre as well as countless restaurants and bars has meant that the area has bought a huge increase in jobs to an area that before was suffering from above average unemployment and poverty.


It is well worth taking some time during your stay in London to see this area. It is easily reached from central London (Jubilee Line) to the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) station of Canary Wharf. A ride on the DLR is an experience itself! There is also a river boat commuter service from Canary Wharf Pier down river to Greenwich or up river to the City and the West End.

Barge on river the Thames

   

2007 travel guides