Last weekend me and my boyfriend decided to go and try walking The Line. What’s The Line, you ask? According to its website, The Line is a contemporary art walk connecting Stratford to North Greenwich (East of London) and it follows the Greenwich Meridian line. It includes sculptures by Damien Hirst and others, as you can see here.
According to the map you have two options: either start North in Stratford or South in North Greenwich. We decided on the latter and off we went. Right at the exit of the tube station you are faced with the O2 arena and surrounding buildings. It’s a nice area, with lots of chain restaurants and a few gardens to walk around in. Sorry about the pictures, some of them look a bit grim because of the light.
Right at the beginning of our adventure we were faced with a challenge: where does The Line start? We looked around for any kind of sign or information on the available map but there wasn’t anything. We looked online but the maps we found were too simple and didn’t actually tell you where to go. It was only today, as I looked at the official website, that I noticed that in the FAQ section they do explain in writing where you’re supposed to go.
Anyway, we walked towards the river as we knew we would have to cross it at some point, and decided to walk down the Thames Walk in order to find the supposed bridge we would need. But first we did find the first sculpture of the day, right next to the river cruise port.
The river Thames is not the loveliest of rivers, the water is dark and brown and it has a briny smell, there are tires and all sorts of curious objects (including a bag for golf clubs) in its brown banks. But we did see quite a few birds, the highlight of that being a crane fighting three seagulls – unexpectedly, the crane won.
On our way down the path we saw what you could call a slice of a ship. We thought it might’ve been abandoned, but then we saw some books stored inside, which made us wonder if anyone lived there. Turns out it was a sculpture! We only found that out later on, but hey, at least I took pictures! And, to be honest, it was our favourite sculpture.
Later on that walk we finally found a sign telling us where to go to follow The Line! We thought we were saved and had to retrace our steps as we were moving South and wanted to go North. However we later found that to continue on the track you had to catch the Emirates Airline in order to cross the river (no bridge!).
For those who don’t know, the Emirates Air Line is London’s only cable car which goes from the O2 to the Royal Docks, near Excel London. It costs £4.50 per person for a single trip and we were just outraged that they would try to make us use it!
So, after an hour of walking around the O2 we got back on the underground, got off in Canning Town and walked all the way to the Royal Docks, where we found another sculpture.
Turns out we were close to Excel London, where Comicon was being held! We followed the river and were suddenly in the midst of a crowd of cosplayers. There were a lot of Disney princesses and Naruto characters. We walked around, took a few photos and sat down to try and find out where we had to go next.
After finding out we would have to walk back to where we were and we were quite tired, we got the DLR and were going to continue our walk but when we got to the station we saw that there was nothing around the area. The truth is that most of the areas you have to walk through to see the sculptures are industrial areas that are interesting but not the view we were hoping for when we set out.
As you probably guessed, we were lazy and just stayed in the DLR until we got to Stratford High Street and looked around the Olympic Park. The Aquatics Centre is now a leisure centre. We also found the last sculpture, which was the Arcelormittal Orbit, the UK’s tallest sculpture.
There was also a carnival going on. The picture makes it look like it’s haunted or like it’s the set of a horror movie.
We spent the rest of the day in Westfields, a big shopping centre in Stratford, had some lovely Mexican food and a milkshake from the Shake Shack which was really nice.
So yeah, The Line was not everything that we hoped for. It takes you to some weird parts of East London and, even though it was one of its goals to show people different parts of London I don’t recommend it to tourists or anyone really. Most feedback I’ve read on Twitter is negative, mostly because you have to walk a lot between each sculpture, that you have to cross by cable car and the online maps are extremely unhelpful.
But all in all, it was still a good day and I got some pretty ominous pictures of East London and of cosplayers at Comicon.
Hope this has been useful and until next time,