London: the step-by-step guide

Michael Leapman wanders around Greenwich village
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The Independent Culture
to mark the opening of the Greenwich Festival (see page 3), this walk takes in the main sights and finest views in this historic riverside town, once the site of the Tudor monarchs' favourite palace. I was expertly guided on it by the architectural writer and local resident Tony Aldous.

From Blackheath Station turn left on Tranquil Vale - no longer tranquil here but a busy and charming street of shops. On the left is the striking former church hall, built in 1928 in a late flowering of the Arts and Crafts movement.

Keep ahead towards the heath, with All Saints Church (1867) on your right and the first of many groups of good Georgian houses around three sides of a square on your left. At the Hare and Billet pub and pond, turn left on Eliot Place, which soon becomes Eliot Vale.

Detour briefly to the left down Pagoda Gardens to see the fanciful 18th- century pagoda, with its huge lead-covered Chinese-style roof. Back on Eliot Vale, turn left and bear left at the junction with Mount Ponds Road and Eliot Hill. Midway between the signs for those two roads, turn right to cut across the grass, making for a pair of white houses to the right of a block of low-rise modern flats. You are walking close to the rim of some sunken former gravel pits.

On the right is a good view of the Ranger's House (open daily 10am-1pm and 2-6pm), parts of which date from 1688. Cross Wat Tyler Road, named after the 14th-century civil rights leader who presented his demands to Richard II on Black Heath, and take the metalled path towards the white houses. On the right is a wide view of Shooters Hill and Oxleas Wood.

Walk on the gravel path of Dartmouth Row and cross the A2 at the pelican crossing. From here take the obvious path across the grass towards horse chestnut trees and follow it to the odd brick structure at the corner of a block of flats: this is the head of a conduit built in 1740 to provide water to the Royal Naval College.

Cross Hyde Vale, climb some stone steps and turn sharp left on a high- level path above the road, soon commanding a marvellous view of the City, with the dome of St Paul's easy to identify. Cross Croom's Hill between Macartney House, where General Wolfe (1727-59) lived, and the White House, and take the gravel path that runs between the two houses. This leads to a brick-arched gateway into Greenwich Park.

Walk ahead in the park, with Henry Moore's "Standing Figure: Knife Edge" away on your left, and a view beyond of the masts of the clipper Cutty Sark. You are approaching the dome and ship weathervane of the Old Royal Observatory, home of Greenwich Mean Time. Turn left on the Avenue and after 50 yards take the path on the right by a litter bin. This takes you around Wren's Flamsteed House (1676): a brass strip in the footpath marks the zero meridian line.

In front of General Wolfe's statue on your right is a platform offering a view down the hill to the National Maritime Museum and Inigo Jones's Queen's House. From the statue take the path downhill and fork right where the right-hand railing ends. Bear right and then left to pass through the park gate and cross Romney Road in front of the Maritime Museum.

Head towards the river on King William Walk. At weekends, detour left on Turnpin Lane to enjoy the lively covered market, then rejoin King William Walk to pass the Cutty Sark on your left. Directly in front of the pier turn right on to the riverside walkway alongside Wren's Royal Naval College, on the site of the old palace. Walk round the Trafalgar Tavern on the pedestrianised Crane Street. Beyond another pub, the Yacht, you pass the pretty Holy Trinity alms houses (1616) and then the former London Transport power station, before turning away from the river up Lassell Street.

Turn right on Trafalgar Road and left on Greenwich Park Street, then left briefly before re-entering the park through the gate on your right. Follow the path uphill by the left-hand wall and leave the park opposite the romantic Vanbrugh Castle, designed by the architect and dramatist Sir John Vanbrugh as his own home in 1718.

Cross Maze Hill and walk towards the spire of St John's Church. Take the path on the right towards a group of white houses. Cross Charlton Way, then walk in front of the white houses to cross the A2 again. Now go half left across the grass, at a 45 degree angle both to the road and the straight metalled path ahead.

This takes you to the front of the Paragon, a crescent of semi-detached brick villas joined by white colonnades, designed by Michael Searles and built between 1794 and 1807. Turn right in front of the crescent and follow the road as it curves left into Montpelier Row, past the Princess of Wales pub and the Clarendon Hotel, finally reaching the centre of the village and the station. Distance: Four and a half miles Time: Two and a quarter hours, plus any visits. (Sights are open 10am-6pm Mon-Sat, 12noon-6pm Sunday, except where stated) By train: BR Blackheath (frequent service from Charing Cross and Victoria) Car park: Behind Blackheath station (pay and display)

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