London audio tour: East of Eden: Tales from the Thames Riverbank

East of Eden: Tales from the Thames Riverbank

Walking Tour

|
90 mins
|
2.7mi

About the Tour

Do you long to get off the well-worn London tourist trail and see more of the city’s hidden corners? If so, you’re certain to enjoy this walking tour alongside the River Thames, once the main trading gateway into the city.

On this walk, you’ll hear the many, varied stories linked to this stretch of the river. I’ll share the history behind the buildings you see and, along the way, I’ll introduce you to some of the fascinating characters that have lived here, including the artist Francis Bacon, some of the protagonists in one of the first industrial disputes, and even a witch and a ghost. We’ll also pass the charming 450 year-old pub, The Bunch of Grapes, located directly above the spot where Sir Walter Raleigh set sail on his third voyage to the New World. If you pause here for a pint, you can get a glimpse of the staff that actor Sir Ian McKellan, who is also part-owner of the pub, used when he played Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy.

You can look forward to hearing about:

• The first London docks
• A little piece of China on the shores of the Thames
• Francis Bacon’s lover’s plot to plant cannabis in the artist’s studio in order to get him arrested
• Great feats of Victorian engineering
• Law, order – and the lack of it – along the river banks, where drunks from a nearby pub were reputedly drowned
• The repurposing of Docklands in the 1900s

Whether it’s your first time in the capital or you’re a local who’s curious about this stretch of the river, you’ll gain a valuable introduction to one of London’s most fascinating neighbourhood’s rich history.

Allow approximately an hour and a half for this walk if you plan on keeping strictly to the route. There are several opportunities to explore some of the historic waterside taverns that still exist, which will add more time if you choose to stop for refreshments. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants and food outlets if you feel the need to take some time out during the tour.

Credits:
Temptation March by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Artist: http://audionautix.com/

Dragon and Toast by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license. https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/
Source: http://incompetech.com/music/royalty-free/index.html?isrc=USUAN1100251
Artist: http://incompetech.com/

Tour Producer

avatar

Steve Matthews

I've been a guide since 2010 and I’m constantly doing research and exploring new possibilities in order to keep my tours fresh, interesting, and relevant. The tours take you to places that you possibly wouldn't visit if you were on your own, and I believe they give you the echoes of what has gone before us in this great Metropolis.

London's history is my passion, and these tours have grown from what started as a hobby to my desire to share the many wonderful stories, lives and facts with others.

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Major Landmarks

  • Tower Bridge

  • The Shard

  • St Katherines Dock

  • The River Thames

Directions to Starting Point

The tour begins at Westferry station on the Dockland Light Railway (DLR).
Using the DLR is the easiest way to get to the start point. If you are in central London, Westferry can be accessed by boarding an eastbound train from Tower Gateway station which is a short walk from Tower Hill underground station on both the Circle and District lines.
It can also be reached using a number 135 or 277 bus. There is also parking for 31 Santender bicycles.

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Tips

Places to stop along the way

I would recommend that you try to visit at least one of the historic waterside taverns. There is The Grapes at the beginning of the tour, The Prospect of Whitby in the middle and The Town of Ramsgate towards the end of the tour. All of the pubs serve food, but check opening times before you set off. It may also be a good idea to try and book a table if you intend to eat, contact the pub for details. There are a number of restaurants and fast food outlets on the route and a few convenience stores and coffee outlets.

Best time of day

Probably the best time to take the tour would be between 10 am to 6pm on a weekday as some of the historic waterside pubs may not open on the weekend.

Precautions

This is a mainly residential area with locals and commuters around during the day. Part of the route is also shared with cycle paths, so watch out for bikes as you cross some of the roads. If the tide allows, there are a couple of stops where you can go down onto the Thames foreshaw. Please always be aware of the incoming tide and never venture onto the shore near high tide.

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East of Eden: Tales from the Thames Riverbank