Starting off in the centre of London and discovering many points of interest along the way, following the Thames Path from London Bridge to Greenwich is one of the best walks in London to stretch your legs and explore new parts of the city.
We completed this walk on a mild December day. It had rained earlier in the morning, though it was fortunately dry during our time in London despite dark clouds threatening a downpour on a few occasions.
As London is arguably the best location for a UK city break by train, there are multiple stations you can travel to for the start of your walk, as well as a few options for returning at the end. Blackfriars and London Bridge station are two options if you’re looking for a point nearby to begin the walk, and these useful train links help to make it one of the best walks along the Thames in London.
Our walk from London Bridge to Greenwich was the first of a longer two-part walk, with the second section continuing to follow the Thames Path from Greenwich to Woolwich.
Heading off from London Bridge
You can start this walk from any point along the Southbank, and it can form part of a longer walk if you have the time or energy. We arrived at London Bridge station, which makes for a useful starting point.
From the station, we headed straight to the river, through the impressive development that frames Tower Bridge as you approach it.
This will be the busiest part of the walk. With so many sights and attractions around, including HMS Belfast, the Tower of London, and Tower Bridge, this part of the Southbank is a popular spot for tourists and a great place to take photos.
Once you’ve taken all the photos you want, continue east along the river and towards Tower Bridge. You’ll soon be getting away from the crowds.
Head through the tunnel under Tower Bridge and along Shad Thames. These converted warehouses create an atmospheric alley to walk down.
Take a turn off left and you’ll be back by the Thames again, from where you can simply follow the river east, with Tower Bridge behind you.
Cross the footbridge over St Saviours Dock and continue following the Thames Path, passing by China Wharf.
You’ll be forced away from the river temporarily and onto Chambers Street, but you’ll soon be alongside the river again and into one of the most interesting areas of Bermondsey.
By the edge of the river you’ll notice four statues, known as Dr Salter’s Daydream. These commemorate Alfred Salter, a public servant who helped to reduce poverty in 19th-century Bermondsey, and his wife Ada, the first woman mayor in London.
On the other side of the road to this is the site of King Edward III’s manor house, and there’s an interesting plaque which depicts what it would have looked like in the 14th century.
Keep heading along the road and past The Angel pub.
Onwards to Rotherhithe
The Thames path alternates been footpaths right along the river and roads slightly inland, but just keep heading east and you’ll soon move from Bermondsey and into Rotherhithe.
One of the first landmarks you’ll see is St Mary’s Church. There are a lot of points of interest in this area if you have time to look around.
Most notable is the local history related to the Mayflower, the ship famous for voyaging to America in 1620. The captain, Christopher Jones, is buried in St Mary’s churchyard, and you’ll pass the Mayflower pub.
You’ll also walk by the Brunel museum which is worth a stop in if you have time.
Cutting across Stave Hill
Further into Rotherhithe, you’ll come across Surrey Basin Bascule Bridge. From here, you have two choices: follow the Thames Path around the curve of the river, or cut across Rotherhithe for a different (and slightly quicker) route.
As this was part of a longer walk, we took the path that cuts inland, heading around Surrey Water and down a pedestrianised avenue that follows the path of an old filled-in canal.
The purpose of this alternate route is to climb Stave Hill. This artificial hill provides some of the best panoramic views across London in all directions, so it’s definitely worth heading to if you want a break from the Thames path.
From there, you can head south through the ecological park and all the way to Greenland dock, then follow the signs that take you back to the river to rejoin the Thames path.
Along the river and through Lewisham
For the final leg of the walk, you’ll have a good view of Canary Wharf across the water as you continue following the river. With these meandering bends in the Thames, it can be disorienting, but keep as close to the river as possible and you won’t get lost.
On the way, you’ll pass the location where Queen Elizabeth knighted Sir Francis Drake onboard his ship The Golden Hind.
Further along, the path will head through Pepys Park and away from the river. As a general rule, take any left turns that you can in order to roughly follow a path parallel to the Thames. Now you’re in Lewisham. You’ll head down Grove Street first then cut through Sayes Court Park, where you can see a 300-year-old mulberry tree. Later, walk along the high street and then turn off onto Prince Street.
There are still signs along the way to guide you, and eventually you’ll be able to head up Watergate Street, onto Borthwick Street, and then back along the Thames.
There’s a statue of Peter the Great which you’ll pass by before crossing Greenwich Reach Swing Bridge.
From here, the Thames Path is straightforward and you’ll be able to see the destination up ahead, with iconic landmarks like the Cutty Sark easy to spot from a while away.
The best aspect of this walk is where you end up. Whether you’re feeling touristy and want to see the Old Royal Naval College, the observatory and Prime Meridian, or if you’re just in need of refreshment, there are plenty of options.
After a long walk, you might be ready for something to eat and drink. We stuck by the river and walked past the Naval College, stopping off at The Yacht for a filling lunch.
Take your time to explore Greenwich. If you’re planning on returning to central London (and don’t want to walk back), you can get a train from Greenwich station back to London Bridge or take the DLR.
Alternatively, you can continue your walk along the Thames Path as we did after our lunch, heading east from Greenwich to Woolwich.
Other recommended London walks to try out
Explore other parts of the city by learning more about the best walks in London, which include:
- Greenwich to Woolwich
- Camden to Little Venice
- King’s Cross to Limehouse
- Blackfriars to Battersea
- Limehouse Cut walk