Love Letters to London, Part 8: Greenwich

Greenwich is home to the National Maritime Museum and Old Royal Naval College, Cutty Sark and the Prime Meridian at the Royal Observatory. The National Maritime museum has free entry and covers much of the glorious history of the Royal Navy and beyond. The building of the museum and the Old Naval College was used and very destroyed in the movie Thor: The Dark World (don’t worry it was only destroyed in the movie, not for real).

At the rotunda that marks the entry/exit to the Greenwich foot tunnel

To get to Greenwich in the 1990s when we lived in London there were no direct tube links, now the DLR (Docklands Light Railway) has been extended to Cutty Sark Station in Greenwich and beyond. The way we got there then, and a cool way to get there today is to take the DLR to Island Gardens on the opposite side of the Thames to Greenwich. After getting off the train walk up to the riverbank and look over to Greenwich. The surprise here is that one of two-foot tunnels under the Thames runs from this location. How cool is it to walk under the Thames? The Greenwich and Woolwich Foot Tunnels were originally built in 1902 and 1912 respectively. The purpose of the tunnels was to provide reliable all-weather access by local residents to the London shipyards and docks on the north side of the Thames. Take the elevator or stairs down into the tunnel and make the walk under the river to the other side and ride the elevator back up to ground level, a cool thing to do both for young and old.

You emerge right next to Cutty Sark, the fastest sailing ship of its time. And as luck would have it, the Gipsy Moth pub is right next to it, it has a great garden for beers and cider. Worth mentioning is also the Trafalgar Tavern just up the river to the east. Greenwich Market is a cool place to visit, an old market hall with all sorts to shop and look at on the way to the Prime Meridian.

Awesome aerial photo showing Greenwich with Cutty Sark at the left by the Thames, National Maritime Museum and Old Royal Naval College with Docklands across the river. Photo by Krisztian Nagy on

Walk up King William’s Walk and you will be parallel to Greenwich Park where the Prime Meridian is located on top of the hill at the Royal Observatory (Greenwich is also the G in Greenwich Mean Time (GMT)). The Prime Meridian in Greenwich is the meridian that divides the eastern and western hemispheres of the earth. You can basically stand with one foot in the east and one foot in the west. Since 1884 the prime meridian at Greenwich has been used as the 0 meridian for navigating the earth. Read more about the why and the how here. Whilst on top of the hill we also recommend a visit to The Royal Observatory. If you feel thirsty after that long walk up the hill, take a well-deserved drink at the Kings Arms on the King William Walk. Board the DLR and head for central London with some fresh air and new knowledge in your bag.

Categories:Europe, TravelTags: , , , , , , ,

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