Length 6.9 km (4.3 miles), terrain: flat
London Running Routes:
Best London Running Routes: Overview
Docklands-LimehouseRegent's Canal and Camden Town
3-Parks Route: Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James' Park
Heathrow Harmondsworth Moor
Wimbledon Common Trail Run
Royal Docks/ExCeL Route
Kew / Brentford Thames Run
For more running routes, see Route List.
NOTE: An alternative start for this route could be the Canary Wharf tube/DLR station
If you're staying/working in London's spellbinding Docklands, or if you just want to explore it, here's a route that takes you past the most compelling spots. This East London area was once a thriving harbor, importing/exporting goods throughout the British Empire. It was full of ships and dock-workers and warehouses and grain-silos. Most of the peninsula, surrounded on three sides by the Thames, was called the "Isle of Dogs". Before the harbor quays were built, it was a swampy area that needed dikes and windmills to protect it from frequent flooding.
|Along Millwall in the Docklands|
The result was an amazing rejuvenation, and an impressive architectural collection along the old quays. The most interesting old buildings were re-purposed, while a lot of modern buildings went up between them. The little harbor basins were re-used as marinas and as homes to floating restaurants and museum-ships. Now the area houses a major financial center around Canary Wharf, and pleasant neighborhoods built around the former harbor basins, the way urban life should be.
So, if this sounds like something you might want to take a closer look at, just jump on a DLR (Docklands Light Railway) train out to the Limehouse station to begin this fascinating route. The DLR can be traveled using the normal London Transport Oyster-Cards (make sure to swipe in- and out on the machines in the stations).
|The start of the run: coming to Limehouse Basin|
Get out of the station and turn left to get onto Ratcliffe Lane, on the south side of the station. Now turn left again and run eastwards, with the elevated train tracks to your left side.
The lane ends after a block, but continue running straight ahead onto the wide pedestrian path. You will soon see Limehouse Basin open up along the right side, full of narrow-boats (canal barges, now used as houseboats) and sailing ships and yachts.
|Narrow-boat with Limehouse Basin|
Now turn right to run past some modern, pointy buildings, keeping the water on your right side. After the pointy buildings, the basin path comes back to the elevated tracks, but just keep following the water as it continues southwards again.
You are now running along the east side of the basin. Cross the little footbridge and continue following the basin until it narrows at the next ship lock and then ends at Narrow Street.
|Along Narrow Street|
At the 1-km mark, when you come to a green square on the left, you'll see an arched entrance through the Duke Shore Wharf building on the right, with a sign pointing that way for the Thames Path. Turn right and run through the building and onto the courtyard behind it.
|Heading into the Docklands along the Thames|
You'll go through a metal gate and then over a little footbridge, but just stay along the river now.
|The Thames Path on the Isle of Dogs|
The path first goes along a rounded area, where you'll pass the Canary Wharf Pier. You'll later pass a park, McDougall Gardens.
|McDougall Gardens, with the red-brick flats behind it.|
In just a block, this little side-road ends at the main street along the west edge of the Isle of Dogs, Westferry Road. Turn right here and run the short 100-meter stretch to the bus-stop and the red mail box. Now turn left to run down the narrow footpath, running under several big harbor cranes, and with the basin of Millwall Outer Dock opening up to your right.
|The turnoff from Westferry Road to Millwall Outer Dock|
When you come to the north end of Millwall Dock, you'll run under the DLR tracks at Marshwall. Turn left here, and when the tracks cross overhead again in just a few steps, turn right to run to the water of South Dock.
|The footbridge at South Dock, with DLR train in background|
Cross the footbridge, heading north again, and run right through the glass building with the café inside (I don't normally route a run through an office building, but what the heck: this is the most interesting way to go!).
|The indoors portion of the run: maybe stop for a coffee?|
NOTE: This is the alternative starting spot for this route!
|Jubilee Square Tube Station|
The walkway turns to the right where water blocks its progress, and you run a bit uphill to W. India Avenue. Turn left on this tree-lined street and run straight into the circular park in the middle of Westferry Road, Westferry Circus.
You could continue on the same route all the way to Limehouse Station, but let's see some other scenery here first. Just after going under the crane and over the footbridge, turn right and take the other walkway to Narrow Street again.
To the left, you'll see that same park that we saw before turning onto the riverside walk. But this time run through the gate into Ropemakers Field park, and run straight through this pleasant spot. This long, narrow park was once used for rope-makers to twist strands of twine together into thicker ropes. Interestingly, the notorious "Reeperbahn" in Hamburg was used for the same purpose, with Reeperbahn meaning "Rope-maker lane".
|In Ropemakers Field|
So now, just cross the next footbridge on your right, and follow your earlier footsteps back to the station, a half-kilometer to the west.