Home > Architecture & Urban Design, Local Interest & History, Personal, Things I Like... > A Walk through the Heart of the Isle of Dogs….

A Walk through the Heart of the Isle of Dogs….

When we first moved to the Isle of Dogs about 11 years ago, I was not sure if it would be a place to stay long term.  It was very handy for getting to work in Greenwich, walking through the foot tunnel, but it seemed to lack a heart, not having a discernible local high street that previous places I’d lived like Crouch End, Wood Green and Putney thrived upon. Moreover, the whole place was associated in my mind with the seemingly unstoppable Canary Wharf Development…

11 years later, we’re still here and I must say, I’m now rather a fan of the place. All right, it’s pretty polarised: the wealthy are over on the west side with that winning river view/ sunny aspect combination, the people like me & And who are doing OK are over here on the east (“making do” with only the river) and everyone else is plonked in a ring of social housing around the inside edge… but one of the main reasons I enjoying living here is the proximity to the River Thames…  I really do “live by the river” as my namesake Joe Strummer memorably sang back in the day, and it’s a surprisingly good feeling to see it everyday meandering past our bedroom window..

One of the other reasons is that I’ve now discovered the islands’ heart, and it has nothing to do with retail. Through the centre of the Isle of dogs runs an amazing mixture of things that as far as I know, is unique in Zone 2… There are the docks, with their water, boats and wildlife, the new developments, an open meadow, three parks, Mudchute City farm, Canary Wharf and Foster’s magnificent Jubilee Line underground station…

I’ve been walking to CW every morning for a while now, and in the 20 minutes it took to walk it on a typical day last week, I saw (in no particular order): squirrels, sheep, goats, llamas, turkeys, chickens, ducks, geese, seagulls. moorhens, swans, a robin, crows, magpies, several dogs and a crested grebe. (Last year I could have added cows and pigs to the list as well, but sadly, I suspect they’ve gone to visit the big man with the straw boater and the blue and white striped apron…)

This walk is also a great way to introduce yourself to the day as well.. At this end, there are only a few people around and I usually have the meadow to myself (other than the odd dog walker). Then as I get closer to CW and my fitness, wakefulness and tolerance start to increase, so too does the number of people, so that by the time I’m crossing the swing bridge, there’s a spring in my step and I’m more than prepared to meet the masses on the Jubilee line (so to speak).

The photos below are a visual record (in a Richard Long documentary type style) of my walk on Tuesday 13th March 2012, a day that was misty, dry and cool and perfect for a morning stroll…

  1. Arch
    March 19, 2012 at 08:38

    i think ‘lasy tear’ for last year has a poetic ring to it.

  2. March 19, 2012 at 09:45

    Morning Arch..
    I had already corrected that one but yes, I maybe should have left it as it stood…
    thanks as always for visiting & commenting…

  3. Conchita Navarro
    September 6, 2012 at 18:35

    Very interesting! I am 55 and live in social housing in Crouch End – and thinking of moving that way! If i can find a nice flat exchange. I had wondered if the place feels somewhat ’empty’ with such tall high rises etc, and might one feel its not in the human scale….with no ‘cosy’ sense to streets. (no doubt one finds this on some private residential areas! but not for social housing). Anyway, after reading what you say I think i should at least do a few day trips and see for myself – so thank you for your blog – i came upon it by accident! Conni

    • September 12, 2012 at 10:15

      Hi Conni
      I think it is definitely worth a visit to get a feel for our Island.. you can walk/ cycle almost all the way around it on the river path which is also an excellent thing to do.. Canary Wharf is also an experience if you’ve not been before.
      thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment

  4. Eva
    November 7, 2012 at 11:52

    I found your post googling for how is living at Isle of Dogs and I really appreciate your description as I am visiting some flats this afternoon. Looks like a nice place with that mix of everything I love, and your description of it makes me feel it’s much more than skyscrappers . Thank you!

    • November 7, 2012 at 15:07

      Hi Eva
      Once you get used to it, The Isle of Dogs is definitely a good place to live. I’m glad you found my post helpful and I hope you find somewhere nice to live.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment.

  5. January 14, 2013 at 03:46

    Hi, I just found your post between my searches for a place to stay. I like the geographical part of the Isle of Dogs, but I don’t have a good experience with East London. You really changed my mind and made me try and arrange some viewings.

    • January 14, 2013 at 17:23

      Hi Alex
      Happy that I gave you some more options. its really not a bad place to live at all.
      thanks for visiting and taking the time to comment

  6. Ross.
    June 2, 2013 at 21:20

    Thank you for your honest coverage and feelings about Isle of Dogs. It has very much mixed reviews but I trust this one as you actually live here. I’d love to know how it is now? I’m young and single and considering moving to one of the condos / high rises in Canary Wharf as I’ll be working a few minutes walk away. Do you think that’s a good idea? I really appreciate this article and thank you again.

  7. Jason
    May 27, 2014 at 17:43

    Having lived nearly 8 years in and around the IOD – but mainly the last 4 years living on the Isle (in the not doing so bad East of the island, but wishing we could live in the West). I have to say I’m completely smitten by the place – originally from North London, I grew up with the excitement of Canary Wharf being built and this space age transport DLR, plus I’d been fortunate enough to spend a wkd at the Docklands Scout Project in South Dock. So when we moved to Crossharbour we were both over the moon.

    As a place to live, its very diverse with family orientated parks/Mudchute farm/Horse riding, to park fates and events locally organised. You have local pubs, restaurants and hidden little gems – plus the myriad of offerings in and around Canary Wharf. My only reservation is the amount of old buildings being knocked down to build new developments – IOD needs to keep some of its originality.

    I feel a 20 something singleton might find the place either too quiet or not enough happening – but for me and my girlfriend, we are pretty lucky to be living somewhere so diverse and interesting yet fascinatingly beautiful and steeped in amazing history. Plus wait until someone asks you where you live – always starts a conversation.


  8. John lanyon
    December 17, 2015 at 20:02

    I have had this strange nagging yearning to cycle around and take a mooch around the Isle of Dogs since I first saw the arial map on East Enders. I don’t know London at all as I live in Guernsey in the Channel Islands, would anyone know if there are any Boris bikes to hire close by please?

  9. October 13, 2016 at 12:29

    i came across your wonderful blog this am .my niece had mentioned walking all around the isle of dogs last week..and i intend doing the same next summer when i visit from limerick..

    • October 16, 2016 at 22:55

      Evening Ide
      Thanks for your kind words about my blog.
      The Isle of Dogs is a wonderful place, only this afternoon we went to feed the alpaca’s and the sheep..

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