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Greenwich Observatory Trail

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Greenwich Observatory Trail
Author: , Published: 14 Feb 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Greenwich Observatory Trail Walking Guidestar1 Greenwich Observatory Trail Walking Guidestar1 Greenwich Observatory Trail Walking Guidestar1 Greenwich Observatory Trail Walking Guidestar0 Greenwich Observatory Trail Walking Guide
London, Greenwich
Walk Type: History trail
Greenwich Observatory Trail
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot Greenwich Observatory Trail Walking Guide boot Greenwich Observatory Trail Walking Guide
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A walk to the Greenwich Observatory from North Greenwich Pier. The walk follows good surfaces, there are no stiles or kissing gates and there is one fairly steep incline.

The walk starts at the North Greenwich Pier.
suggests the following:
Take the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) to Cutty Sark station, or alight at Island Gardens and walk through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel.
If you’re arriving by overground train, Greenwich station is a five minute walk to the village centre.
Or take a relaxing boat ride to Greenwich Pier on the Thames Clipper.

I recommend the Thames Clipper service - fast, clean and efficient.

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Walk Sections

To the Cutty Sark

Start point: 51.4836 lat, -0.0083 long
End point: 51.483 lat, -0.0094 long

Exit the Greenwich North Pier and walk towards the large Discover Greenwich building. As you approach you'll see the Cutty Sark to your right. At the time of writing this was covered in scaffolding following a fire. Apparently this will reopen in 2012.

Cutty Sark to Discover Greenwich

Start point: 51.483 lat, -0.0094 long
End point: 51.4828 lat, -0.0089 long

Retrace your steps back to the former Naval College which is now a large exhibition space called "Discover Greenwich". There is also a side entrance from the Cutty Sark street. Particularly impressive is the circular interactive display showing how Greenwich has changed over the years. Good for getting your bearings.

Discover Greenwich to Trafalgar Tavern
Discover Greenwich to Trafalgar Tavern

Start point: 51.4828 lat, -0.0089 long
End point: 51.4847 lat, -0.0047 long

Exit the Discover Greenwich building heading north towards the Jetty. Turn right and follow the path alongside the Thames, walking in an easterly direction.

You'll pass Wren's twin-domed magnificent building, the Old Royal Naval College which is open to the public for access to the Painted Hall and the Chapel. The courtyard in between the domes has a good photo opportunity looking south through to a smaller white building known as the Queen's house. It was built for James I's consort, Anne of Denmark, but she died before it was complete.

Continue along the river path until you reach the Trafalgar Tavern, a great place to watch the river over a drink.

Trafalgar Tavern to Greenwich Park
Trafalgar Tavern to Greenwich Park

Start point: 51.4847 lat, -0.0047 long
End point: 51.4814 lat, -0.0022 long

Walk South away from the river along Park Row. Cross Romney Road/Trafalgar Road and continue South past the Maritime Museum on your right. Soon after you'll see the entrance to Greenwich park ahead of you through a wrought iron gate. Enter the park.

Park Entrance to One Tree Hill

Start point: 51.4814 lat, -0.0022 long
End point: 51.4799 lat, 0.001 long

Keep the funfair area to your left and keep straight on (in the same direction as you walked up Park Row). Follow the path through the avenue of trees until you reach the intersection of 5 paths. Take the second path on your left and follow it up a fairly steep incline to what is known as "One Tree Hill."
The views are great from the summit. There's also an interesting poem written on the front of the benches that form a wide seating area.

One Tree Hill to Royal Observatory
One Tree Hill to Royal Observatory

Start point: 51.4799 lat, 0.001 long
End point: 51.4779 lat, -0.0011 long

Walk toward the Observatory in the distance which is the building shown in the photo that has a red ball on its roof. The ball drops at 1pm each day and was apparently used to indicate local time to passing ships.
There are many routes, the quickest being to head back down One Tree Hill, but you can see more of the park if you head across the plateau of the hill (east) and turn right towards the observatory after a few hundred metres.
The entrance to the paid part of the Museum is near the statue of James Wolfe.

Observatory to Plume of Feathers Pub
Observatory to Plume of Feathers Pub

Start point: 51.4779 lat, -0.0011 long
End point: 51.4818 lat, -0.001 long

Some areas of the Observatory are free but particularly interesting are the Harrison Clocks and the many meridian lines and these cost about £7. The clocks are lovingly cared for and are the lifelong work of a Lincolnshire man who was attempting to win the prize put up by the Government to try and solve the longitude navigation problem for shipping. Behind the "pay wall" can also be seen the various meridians that were pronounced by successive Royal Astronomers including the final Greenwich Mean.
If you're lucky enough to catch him there is an actor who plays out the Longitudinal story in the courtyard. Very entertaining.
Leave the observatory and head back to the park entrance you came in earlier; the easiest route is to head east and then take a left turn on the next path heading north.
After leaving through the park gates immediately turn right along Park Vista. After 100 metres there a friendly and welcoming pub on the left - the Plume of Feathers. They serve excellent pub grub.
From here either retrace your steps to the North Greenwich Pier or if you continue along Park Vista there is a mainline train station near the end of the road.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author kevingurden and may not be reproduced without permission.

2 comments for "Greenwich Observatory Trail"

Great trip but found an inaccuracy which it would be good to see corrected. In the section "Discover Greenwich to Trafalgar Tavern" you write "You'll pass two magnificent buildings including the College of Music". These magnificent buildings are in fact the Old Royal Naval College which is a visitor attraction that is open to the public free of charge. We'd be most grateful if you could amend your copy. With thanks from all at the Old Royal Naval College and we look forward to welcoming people following your tour.

By Administrator on 21 Feb 2012

I'll gladly update it - thanks

By kevingurden on 03 Mar 2012

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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