The Greenwich Foot Tunnel

The Greenwich Foot Tunnel

I’ve always said that any visitor to London should take a Boat trip from Westminster to Greenwich as it gives a fantastic view of the city from the river and ends up at one of my favourite areas of London. That said, there is an alternative way to get to Greenwich, and that is by way of the automated Docklands Light Railway which travels through Canary Wharf to Island Gardens, where you can use the foot tunnel to walk underneath the Thames to reach Greenwich on the other side.

Island Gardens
The Tunnel Entrance at Island Gardens

Before dashing down the tunnel though, make sure that you allow enough time to take in the view across the river: If you think it’s a decent view, you’re not alone, because the famous Venetian artist Canaletto also thought so too.

The View from Island Gardens

A ferry began taking people across the river in 1676, but as the river became more and more congested, it was decided to build a tunnel to allow easier access for dockworkers and others to cross between the Isle of Dogs and Greenwich.

For those of you who like statistics, the tunnel opened in 1902, is ¼ mile (402m) long, 53 ft (16m) below the high-water mark and has over 200,000 glazed tiles.

Inside the Tunnel

At the Greenwich end of the tunnel, you’ll emerge right next to the Cutty Sark where there is a completely different view back over the Thames to Canary Wharf.

On a practical note, there are lifts at both ends of the tunnel which is not only open all day, but also all night – if you’re feeling brave enough, that is.

The Tunnel Entrance at Greenwich
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26 thoughts on “The Greenwich Foot Tunnel

  1. Fergy.

    I like the foot tunnel although it can be a bit spooky at night. Sometimes when I used to go down there a lot on the DLR I would deliberately get off one stop early at Island Gardens just to walk through it. The biggest danger down there are the bloody cyclists who insist on pedalling through it like the clappers despite all the prohibitions. It used to be a bit of a haunt for skateboarders as well.

    Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      You’re so right about the cyclists. Even though there are warning signs up some people just don’t give a monkeys.

      Reply
  2. Toonsarah

    I’m totally with you in regularly recommending a trip to Greenwich (and I’ve organised two small VT visits in the past) but I’ve never yet walked through the tunnel. I really must try it some time, if only for that wonderful view from the opposite bank!

    Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      And do you know what? I’ve never seen any wall art/graffiti/tags under there either 🙂

      Reply
        1. Easymalc Post author

          Ah! I wasn’t sure whether you were familiar with it or not. One of the things I like about blogging is how places bring back memories to people. I’m glad it’s brought back some for you too. Have a lovely Easter weekend!

          Reply
  3. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

    Just the mention of Giovanni Antonio Canal (Canaletto) makes this post exquisite, but your narrative is precise and quite informative, and Malc, you’re an incredibly artistic photographer so this is a great and interesting post, and I will walk that tunnel once my government releases us from this territorial confinement, vaccinates me and leaves us alone to mind our own health our way! Really good! Take good care and all the best to you my friend!
    FBC.

    Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      Thanks again for your invaluable contribution Francesc. Canaletto was a fine artist wasn’t he? and I think sometimes people forget that if it wasn’t for artists like him most of us wouldn’t have known what places like Greenwich and Venice would have looked like back then. That applies to all art before the advent of photography of course.

      I sincerely hope this madness ends soon for everyone. We’re on a conditional gradual easing of lockdown here and I don’t think there’ll be any going back once it’s all over. It’ll be a case of herd mentality then I think, whatever happens – but we’ve got to get there first. Enjoy the rest of your Easter weekend – and stay safe.

      Reply
      1. Francisco Bravo Cabrera

        Yes, Canaletto is outstanding and you are right, they were the chroniclers of the times as well as artists. On the second point, I quite agree. The UK is recuperating rapidly and I am very happy to hear. Continental Europe is, for the most part, in bad, bad shape. Even the WHO has said that our vaccination plan in slow, too slow and unacceptable. Spanish numbers are not as bad as some countries like France, Sweden, Poland and Germany, but if we don’t start massively vaccinating, around the clock, we might be in danger of a fourth wave and that would be too disastrous to even consider.
        But, let us think of better things, it is 1830 hours and getting mighty close to wine time here in Valencia, so, I raise a toast to you, my friend, to friendship and to the end of this madness and the return of our dearly departed normalcy.
        Cheers!
        Francesc

        Reply
        1. Easymalc Post author

          I’ll drink to that Francesc – and we will get through this. It helps by keeping in touch with like-minded people so that we can all support each other. Your posts always help me keep my mind alive, even if my body is saying otherwise.

          Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      Thanks for taking a look. The Cutty Sark is impressive and there’s lots more to see in Greenwich if you haven’t been there. If you have, you’ll know what I mean 🙂

      Reply
  4. bitaboutbritain

    Nice one, Malc. Well-written and the photos are top-notch. I lived or worked in and around London for years, but never went through this tunnel until a couple of years ago. And I’ve been meaning to stick something about it on the website ever since; but haven’t!

    Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      Thanks Mike, and it’s never too late to stick a post on you know, especially as it should be only a quickie

      Reply
    1. Easymalc Post author

      The DLR goes under the river as well now so there’s no real need to walk it, but it makes a change. Thanks for your continuing support Karen. Hope you have a good Easter weekend 🙂

      Reply

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