London is a great city trip destination: it’s a true shopping paradise, houses world-renowned museums and offers great dining options. However, sometimes the busy metropolis can also get a bit overwhelming. There are numerous beautiful parks dotted around the city where you can briefly exchange the urban jungle for a green retreat, but why not combine a free and unique public contemporary art trail with explorations of a far less touristy side of London? The Line art trail in Greenwich runs between the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park and O2 Arena, and is suitable for families, art lovers, ramblers and even thrillseekers!
Following waterways and the Meridian Line
The Line broadly follows the historic Prime Meridian Line, the Longitude 0º. ‘Every place on Earth was measured in terms of its distance east or west from this line.’ (Source) The entire walk takes about 3 hours to complete, but there are various Tube stations along the route so you could decide to do just part of it. I did the majority of the walk last summer and there were about a dozen of contemporary artworks on display in the landscape at the time. My absolute favourite piece was A Bullet from a Shooting Star by Alex Channeck, which you can see in the photo at the top of this post. Located just a short walk from the O2 Arena, this precariously balanced electricity pylon looks like a lightning bolt that’s been shot down to Earth by Zeus himself.
If you decide to visit only part of The Line, then I’d recommend to do a loop around the O2 Arena and see the artworks (and extensive amount of building work) in that area. Get off at North Greenwich station and walk along the waterfront to see all local works. Bear in mind that Alex Channeck’s work is in the other direction – check The Line map for all artworks and their locations. Here are the other four artworks around the O2 Arena (as of the summer of 2017).
Soar across the Thames or propel yourself down the world’s largest tunnel slide
If a nice stroll along the riverfront and admiring modern art isn’t enough for you, then you might be interested in some of these more heart-racing activities:
- Climb the O2 Arena. Daredevils might be tempted to walk over a 380m-long fabric walkway at 52 metres high. The experience takes 90 minutes.
- Zip down The Slide at the ArcelorMittal Orbit. On the other side of the Thames, located in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, you’ll find the ArcellorMittall Orbit, the UK’s tallest sculpture. This 114m-tall sculpture was created by sculptor Anish Kapoor and engineer Cecil Balmond and was one of the most striking features to appear in the landscape for the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Besides an observation platform providing stunning views of London, the sculpture also houses The Slide, the world’s largest tunnel slide. Go for an exhilarating ride and slide down 178 metres in just 40 seconds!
- Fly over the river Thames with the Emirates Air Line. If you want to enjoy some great views, but could do without the adrenaline rush, then a ride on the air cable line might be just the thing for you! Get on at either the Emirates Royal Docks or at the Emirates Greenwich Peninsula station. Sit back and admire views of some iconic London sights for less than £5! (It costs even less if you use an Oyster Card.) Just make sure you board the cable car on a brighter day than when I went on it…
Or just enjoy the peaceful surroundings from the ground or water…
It’s also possible to take the Thames Clipper between North Greenwich pier and the London Eye. Admire some of London’s most famous skylines from the water and avoid the busy streets of the city. For more information, click here.
For more information about the artworks and the entire route, have a look at the website of The Line.
Have you walked The Line or got your heart pumping in one of the adrenaline-fuelled activities mentioned in this blog? Tell me about your experiences in a comment below!