A Bank Holiday bike ride

We had a busy weekend just gone, even with an extra day we only just managed to cram everything in. There were chores and shopping, a meal out followed by a visit to Grand Designs Live over at Excel, some more weeding on the allotment, some tree work and finally some time for a proper bike ride.  I'll write more about Grand Designs and the trees another time though.

MOH was keen to try a new route and wanted to suss out how and where to get on the canal towpath at Limehouse Basin, somewhere we've cycled past before but not really explored too much. But today was the day, he was set and so we set off with a photocopied route from a book.

We emerged on the north side of the Thames from the Greenwich foot tunnel and headed left heading towards Tower Bridge. It's been a while since we cycled this way, in fact the last time we did it was a miserable day and we stopped to help a stranded cyclist

We turned into the park at Limehouse and after checking the photocopied instructions MOH has us leaving the park so we could start at the beginning.  We found Limehouse Basin and quite quickly found the canal towpath, which if we'd carried straight on once we'd got in the park we would have got to much sooner.  But anyway...

The towpath was narrow, much narrower than the one we left Grantham on recently and I was wobbling a fair bit and keeping as far away from the water as I could.  There was a floating jetty to cycle along too and I really wasn't sure about that, but on we went and it wasn't long before we arrived at Bow Locks.  Which for some reason gave MOH a fit of the giggles, he tried to explain it to me and I still didn't get it...  Let's just say it's schoolboy humour.

Bow Locks
Bow Locks

I hadn't realised there were locks at Bow, or even a towpath but when you think of the area's industrial past it makes sense that there is. We soon arrived at another part of London I didn't know existed and that's Three Mills Island. 

It's well named too, there are three former working mills on the island, which is one of London's oldest industrial areas that's still in existence. They also made for some great pictures.

Three Mills Island
characterful brickwork
three mills island london
clock mill
The Clock


I had heard of the 3 Mills Studios which has become a centre for film and television production, but didn't realise it was here or that it was on the site of a former distillery.  I love how you can discover parts of London and its history on simple bike ride.  Remember when I found (not that it was lost!) Trinity Buoy Wharf last year?

3 mills film studio london
H is for...

With as many pictures taken as I thought I could get away with, we decided to head onwards - and then we saw the ArcelorMittal Orbit in the Olympic Park in the distance.

Orbit in the distance

Before we set off though I was taken by this modern building on our left. It was unusually clad in wood - the brown in the picture and I loved its shape, but somehow couldn't help but feel it needed more glorious surroundings.

Interesting architecture

We headed on and into a park that had some interesting features. By now the weather was turning decidedly Bank Holiday-ish - yes I mean rain, so photos and stops were kept to a minimum.  There were a couple of sculptures that caught my eye, this one The Workers' Memorial, a sculpture by Alec Peever. It's a memorial to a fatal accident which took place nearby in 1901 and this area was where the Industrial Revolution in London started.


The other sculpture was this modern bronze by Thomas J Price and it caught my eye, not only for its size but also for the detail and the modern subject.  You can see in the background more items that interested me but by now my mac was on and I pencilled these in for a closer inspection another day.

Thomas J Price Scupture

We headed on through the park aiming for the Olympic Park. However we emerged onto the main road by Stratford High Street and the cycle superhighway, but even on a Bank Holiday it was busy and after a loop of Stratford without getting much closer to the park, we called it a day.

And so as the Bank Holiday rain started to fall a bit more consistently we headed home.  Thankfully making it indoors before it really tipped down!  We had quite an interesting - but slow - cycle covering almost 18 miles, and while I'm glad we've explored this part of London I don't think this is a route that we'll cycle regularly.