FolkestoneJack's Tracks

Greenwich in the sun

Posted in England, London by folkestonejack on May 12, 2012

A weekend with a reasonable forecast seemed like quite a novelty so I was determined to make the most of the day, especially with a guest to show around town. I had long been meaning to try out the Thames Clipper high-speed catamarans that I have seen plying the river for years, so – having done my homework – I led the way to the pier only to discover that the timetable being operated did not match that suggested by the TFL journey planner nor their own printed timetable. Not the greatest start!

After a quick re-write of our plans we opted to make a trip to Greenwich and waited for a ship to arrive. Unfortunately, the next few ships to arrive at the pier were already almost fully loaded – so only a handful of passengers could be taken each time. It wasn’t a brilliant first experience of London’s river service if I am honest, but maybe it was just a bad day. To be fair, the rarity of a weekend with sun did seem to have lured more Londoners out than normal.

Once we got underway the turn of speed on the catamarans was impressive and the appeal of the service (if you could get on) was easy to see. The views from the river were highly enjoyable as was the close quarters view of HMS Ocean as we arrived at Greenwich (it’s a sight that won’t be around much longer – the warship is expected to leave London early next week).

HMS Ocean at Greenwich in unusually good weather

On returning to land we made our way around the Old Royal Naval College, visiting the Painted Hall (as stunning as ever) and the nearby chapel. After a spot of lunch we circumnavigated the Cutty Sark, took in the Ship in a bottle (outside the National Maritime Museum) and walked up to the Observatory. I had quite forgotten how wonderful the view from the top was, this time with the somewhat unusual addition of the Olympic equestrian stadium under construction in the park. All of this was a good reminder of just how much there is to see and do in Greenwich.

Preparations in Greenwich Park for the Olympics

In the distance the sight of a string of cable cars in motion above the Thames was a real surprise. Testing is clearly moving up a gear now – surely we will see the system open before the Olympics? It’s one more element in the rather unusual mix that is making this a great year to be in London.

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