Shadwell, East London – Afternoon
The sun is gleaming bright over London, tarnishing the pavements with a sense of happiness and a faint glimmer of summer. The journey from Shadwell into the heart of London leads through old cobbled streets, a flurry of parks and along the River Thames, showing a perfect composition of London’s glorious English buildings both old and new. This area of London betrays the inner city’s lust for modernization with the old buildings remaining by the docks, showing the London we now see mostly in Victorian dramas. Weaving through the mysteriously quiet streets, the commercial presence of many restaurants and shops feels non-existent. Despite being an area enjoying much gentrification, it still seems foreign to other parts of London in its ability to remain predominantly ‘old’.
Walking towards the city centre the best option is to drift alongside the river via Thames Walk, which guides you through King Edward Memorial Park and both the Limehouse and Shadwell Basins. The Limehouse Basin is tucked away behind the bridge for the DLR line, and on a sunny day is definitely worth visiting. It was once said to be so busy that you could walk across by hopping from one ship to the next. It is still populated with an array of boats and barges and set against the backdrop of Canary Wharf making it very picturesque. The dock was closed to shipping in 1969 after a vast decline in trade, but before this enjoyed decades of prosperity, at one point having 1,500 ships and 15,336 barges enter in the 19th century.
In today’s world the area spanning across inter-winding streets from Shadwell to Wapping is polluted with boutique cafes and restaurants. It is in a way very similar to Shoreditch, except without the cloak of hipster ‘charm’ to distract you. The shops are of the same vein and the youth just as present, except it is quiet. For a place with an abundance of beautiful views, shops and blessed with an air of tranquillity it seems a sin to publicize its existence, but nonetheless it is a place worth exploring.
If you manage to stick to the path without getting too distracted by the many hidden docks and churches along the way, then the path will eventually culminate at Tower Bridge. The most iconic bridge in English history, it is best seen at night when the lights illuminate the water. The beauty of London is how deceptive it can be. It is always a good idea to walk through the city rather than being confined to the misery of the tube, the sacrifice of an hour to witness the beauty of a great city is something always worth doing.