Tunnel under the Thames

Inside the Greenwich foot tunnel

From where I am currently living in London there are only a handful of places to cross the Thames, there is Tower bridge which is a bit busy and further west, the Rotherhithe tunnel which looks a bit haphazard and the Greenwich foot tunnel which I discovered partly by accident.  There is a well signed bike route from Catford all the way up to Greenwich, at which it disappears into a little roundhouse entrance which marks the start of the tunnel, it goes across the Thames and pops up at the other side at Island gardens.

  It's currently under some maintenance but is open all hours and all days except for weeknights when they work on it.  Currently the lifts aren't working so I had to lug my Raleigh up 8 flights of stairs and down 8 flights of stairs, my legs hurt just thinking about it; this is one of the few instances where weight does matter.  Although another school of thought just says to man up and grow some muscles.  One tip that I heard from when the lift was in operation, you aren't allowed to cycle through there because if you do, the attendant at the lift won't let you put your bike in the lift.

The entrance at Greenwich

I was quite impressed at how well the whole route was signed, it was the Sustrans signed National route 21 from Catford to Greenwhich and then National route 1 from Island gardens to East London.  Having the route signed telling you where to turn in mostly quieter backstreets allowed me to avoid stop-start type riding along backstreets that you typically take to avoid busy A-roads.  National route 1 leads onto the east London canal paths which criss-cross from the old docklands towards central London as well as north towards Hackney.  I ventured east towards Islington and ended up at the Barbican where I had a look at the OMA exhibition that was on there.

The canal paths often narrow to less than 1m with little
headroom when there is an overpass, it's custom to ring your
bell in advance to avoid a crash and going for a swim.

Finally, at hipster central - London Fields in Hackney.

I was delighted to have found a relatively easy route towards east and central London, all up mileage was about 25 miles or thereabouts all done on the Raleigh.  This is the kind of riding I enjoyed as a kid, wandering aimlessly and exploring new and different parts of a city on my bike.  I still enjoy it immensely.


  1. Thanks for the lovely pictures! They remind me of the wonderful location settings I see in my favorite long running British tv series --- Midsomer Murders. If you've never watched this series, they are always set in a very picturesque location and often there is someone riding an old Raleigh. I'm always playing name-that-Raleigh model while watching!