The Jubilee Greenway

This is a relatively new long-distance route around the capital.
JOHN GOODIER hauls on his boots and sets off to see where it takes him ...

The Burdett Coutts Memorial in Victoria Park
The Burdett Coutts Memorial in Victoria Park

Surrey Docks Farm
Surrey Docks Farm

Surrey Docks Farm
St Mary's churchyard, Bermondsey

Bernie Spain Gardens
Bernie Spain Gardens

The first I knew of the Jubilee Greenway was when two glass way-markers appeared in the Embankment path by St Thomas' Hospital. The walk was actually opened in 2009, but the waymarking is not yet finished. It is a cycle and walking route devised by Walk London that uses existing paths and public roads. The core part is the Jubilee Walkway but it extends over other walking routes. Over the New Year I walked about half of it.

Buckingham Palace

The walk begins at Buckingham Palace along Constitutional Hill, where there are many memorials along the way. After crossing Hyde Park Corner, with more memorials, the walk enters Hyde Park.

One of the problems with the walk being a joint cycle and pedestrian route is that it is follows cycle-permitted routes. If you are walking, I suggest you leave the route and go through the rose garden and along the southern side of the Serpentine. You can the regain the route and head up towards Queensway Station. A walk along roads takes you past Loudon's house and the Zen Garden at Craven Hill Gardens.

Passing the east side of Paddington Station, one arrives at Paddington Basin, which is a splendid hard landscape in silver and white.

The walk now continues to the Regent's Canal at Little Venice and follows the towpath to Victoria Park. As I described the canal a year or so ago, we can fast-forward to Victoria Park. Again I recommend leaving the official route to walk by the lake. Go and look for the English Garden and the Burdett Coutts Memorial. From the park the route joins the Greenway, which is the top of the Northern Outfall Sewer. It is a good walk but not much in the way of gardens. However, if you do this section, take a detour to the East London Cemetery, which has the most amazing collection of memorials.

The walk then goes through Beckton Park and enters the University of East London at Cyprus. The most noticeable features are the circular halls of residence. The Royal Albert Dock is crossed via the Sir Steve Redgrave Bridge. From here there is a good view of the full length of the dock. Coming off the bridge, there is a leylandii hedge of epic height, but not out of place. The route now follows the Green Chain through new housing and then over an interesting footbridge into Royal Victoria Gardens. This was originally set up as a place to go for outings, with three venues for dancing, and it had a lido in the past. Most of what you can see is post-war, as the area was badly damaged by bombing. It has some new play equipment.

You can now cross the Thames by using the free ferry or the footbridge; my choice is the ferry. The route now follows the Thames Path. There is some planting and a few seats and old cannons along the way. Soon the path comes to some new housing but the promenade by the river leads nowhere, so you have to follow the roads.

The Thames Barrier

The river-front is regained near the Thames Barrier, where there is a small park, with an ecology pond, and good planting around the Barrier Visitor Centre.

The area becomes fairly industrial but planting suddenly - and unexpectedly - starts again near the aggregates-loading jetty. One soon reaches the full greenery of the Ecology Park which is worth a wander round. When I did this section, the path was diverted through Central Park, where the War Memorial for the South Metropolitan Gas Works has been re-erected. Once the redevelopment has finished, there will be a new park by the river, with some play equipment for children - something that has been lacking until now.

The path from the O2 Dome to Greenwich is closed. When I last walked it, there was little planting until Greenwich; but I expect there will be more when it is reopened. The gardens of the Royal Naval College are open and the visitor centre has been redesigned and is very informative.

After crossing Deptford Creek, the path goes past some new housing, where there is a statue of Peter the Great, accompanied by his court dwarf, which makes him look even taller. The next open space is Sayes Court where Evelyn lived and Peter and his court damaged the gardens playing schoolboy games.

Twinkle Park is hidden in the back streets and has now gained an all-weather play area in addition to the pond and the play equipment. Pepys Park has been recently made over with new planting and play equipment for a range of ages. The section of the park by the river and an area a little further along are still being worked on. The money for this work comes from the sale of a tower block to a private developer. I am pleased that the masks that were on the tower block have been retained.

The walk follows the river and crosses South and Greenland Docks. If Surrey Docks Farm is open, you can continue the walk through the farm. There are community gardens there and lots of animals.

The next park is by a ventilation unit for the Jubilee Line, which has a sculptural design. There are good views of the Canary Wharf development from this point. From here on the route leaves the river at some developments and follows it at others. This was the earliest part of the docks to be redeveloped and the concept of a riverside walk was not fully developed, but there are a few small parks, and some good private planting, which you can look at through the gates.

Once the Surrey Docks area has been passed, the route becomes more historical and Bermondsey Churchyard provides a green space. The route then goes through more recent developments with a few small parks and some interesting statues. The Bridge over St Saviour's Dock brings us to the commercial side of the Dockland area. Potters Field with its two pavilions - one in white and one black - is the next green space. The scoop and the water feature by City Hall are the new hard landscape.

It is worth detouring through Hay's Galleria and Cotton's Atrium to add to the interest of the walk. The indoor planting in the Cotton is on a large scale. Tate Modern has good planting outside. Bernie Spain Gardens are worth a visit and have good planting. The Jubilee Gardens by County Hall are still waiting for redevelopment – they have been in their current sad state for years. Once you get to Lambeth Bridge, you can visit the Garden Museum and admire the small public park outside, which is managed by a charity that helps people get back to work after illness or misfortune.

Back to Westminster

Over the river again, the walk goes through Victoria Tower Gardens. The Buxton Memorial Fountain is in memory of one those involved in the emancipation of slaves. It is of a similar age and style to the Coutts memorial, but not quite as grand. Parliament Square, when I passed, was still in non-garden use.

From here it is a quick walk to St James's Park. The route goes past Duck Island Cottage, but, as before, I suggest you see more of the park rather than follow the cycle route. Either side of the lake is what I would suggest. And then we are back at Buckingham Palace.

There is plenty to see on the route as well as the parks and gardens I have pointed out. Sculpture, architecture, history and the views of the Thames in different lights and different stages of the tide. Like all the circular walks of London, you can do it in bits and miss out, as I have, those you have covered on other walks.