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The foot tunnel, historic refuse and an ex-parrot: Rosie Oliver’s top five Greenwich spots

Posted at 9:15 am, September 8, 2013 in Fun London, Top 5

Dotmaker Tours organise fun walks for adults around Greenwich that go beyond the obvious draws of the Cutty Sark and Royal Observatory: current routes include the Greenwich Bestiary, the new Thames Bestiary, Chimneys & Tunnels Along the River, and the Rubbish Trip. As an area expert, we asked Dotmaker tour guide Rosie Oliver  for her top five Greenwich spots.

1. The antiques, vintage and collectables markets

Greenwich Market Ed Marshall

‘Visit Greenwich Market on a Tuesday, Thursday or Friday or the open-air Clocktower Market at the weekend and you never know what curious and eccentric oddments you might find. Highlights from a rummage one Thursday included a Victorian glass-domed display of 42 stuffed tropical birds collected by the Bishop of Trinidad, a ‘Pin Cricket’ game (pinball meets cricket) and a 1960s toy poodle made from rabbit fur. Human skeletons, skulls and prosthetic limbs also appear there regularly. In the words of stallholder Dave, “body parts always sell”.’

2. John Reardon’s Monument to a Dead Parrot (2009), Devonport House Gardens

Monument for a Dead Parrot by John Reardon, 2009

‘Before the giant blue cock landed at Trafalgar Square, this delightful monumental parrot (cockatoo, actually) chose Greenwich as its resting place. It’s a solid bronze scaled up replica of a child’s plastic toy. You’ll find it caged inside the railings on the corner of King William Walk and Romney Road.’

3. Greenwich Foot Tunnel, Cutty Sark Gardens

Greenwich Foot Tunnel

‘Eerie, dank and a photographer’s dream, the foot tunnel lies beneath the Thames between the Cutty Sark and Island Gardens. It was opened in 1902 primarily for the Greenwich workforce that used to commute to the docks. Little has changed inside the tunnel since then, apart from a new glass doored lift and the gradual descent of stalactites.’

4. The foreshore

‘Head down to the foreshore at low tide for a rich collection of rubbish. Expect to find Tudor kitchen waste in the form of cattle and sheep bones, oyster shells discarded like crisp packets from the days when oysters were cheap as chips, pottery sherds and clay pipe fragments. Digging or even gently scraping the surface of the shore is illegal unless you have a mudlark permit, but it’s fine to look and pick up loose pieces.’

5. The Thames Path from the Foot Tunnel to the O2

Thames Path Wonderwoman O2

‘The North Greenwich Peninsula is on the verge of being redeveloped as luxury housing and a cruise liner terminal. For now, it’s a soulful, derelict, out-of-the way place. The Thames Trail phone app gives an excellent account of the area’s industrial history. Bring a camera to capture the urban wilderness, decay and surprising juxtapositions.’

For more information visit dotmakertours.co.uk or give Rosie a ring on 07985 464314. Dates for the next walks can be found at dotmakertours.eventbrite.co.uk

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