Length 5.6 km (3.4 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.
I might also call this route "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly." The old Royal Docks area in the far east-end of London used to be a busy port. It landed all the food needed to feed the growing city. But after World War II, the docks were used less and less, and the mills and warehouses surrounding the big basins were abandoned.
Since then, the area has been largely revived, but it's still a mixed bag of impressive modern buildings, old neighborhoods, marinas, industrial lots, the City Airport, parks, a university, construction sites and flat-out ruins. In other words, this route provides some amazing variety.
|Lots of water and variety on this run!|
This run circles the Victoria Docks basin, with a little parkside loop along the Thames added in.
NOTE: There is another basin, Albert, just east of Victoria, and I tried circling it too, for a bigger run. But it is in more precarious shape, with big sections still blocked off for future construction. After several multi-kilometer detours after being forced to turn around, I gave up. So this route makes-do with just the loop around Victoria basin.
The Royal Docks were the main shipping docks for London in the early 20th century, one of the busiest ports in the world. It was mainly used for the import of food, with refrigerated warehouses lining the long, tide-free basins. Declining after WWII, they finally closed in 1981.
The area is served by two branches of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), an elevated track that winds its way through the East End. In fact, four stations line the route directly. So you can get there easily from the City of London.
|Start of the run at the western ExCeL entrance|
Standing there at the big square at the entrance, you can see what a great job has been done reviving the docks, at least this one: Royal Victoria. Modern achievements of architecture and technology surround you: the massive ExCeL building, a couple of hotels, some old warehouses converted into restaurants, statues, a floating hotel ship and the lofty Royal Victoria footbridge, which spans the basin.
|A dog show has just ended at ExCeL: heading east|
Straight ahead, you'll see a car bridge crossing the basin, the Connaught Bridge. There is a little separate pedestrian bridge next to it, so take that and run south, across the basin.
|Crossing Connaught Bridge|
|London City Airport along Albert basin|
The DLR tracks are right above you here. Now turn right and run beneath the tracks through the nice pedestrian park-scape.
|Under the DLR tracks along N. Woolwich Road|
|Relaxing greenery in the park|
|The Thames Barrier at low tide|
|Along Mill Road|
|The Millennium Mills ruins|
Turn left and continue running westwards along the waterside, with nice waterfront homes and huge, leftover cranes lining the water, passing the 4-kilometer mark.
|The promenade, with landing jet|
|Water skier shows how it's done|
|At the cable car station|
Now you're back at the north shore of the basin, at the Royal Victoria DLR station. So all you have to do now is turn right and head eastwards towards the starting point, running past a few of the convention center hotels.