School Trip to Greenwich!

Last Thursday our two Ambassadors for Landscape, Sam and Hannah, took a group of Year 10 students from the Stationers’ Crown Woods Academy on a walking tour around Greenwich. The tour was curated by Prospects who work in Higher Education to help guide students into graduate careers. The Landscape Institute was also present by way of Alice Knight (Professional Development Officer).

The tour started at Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park, where Sam described how the landscape underfoot has changed throughout the centuries, from boggy marshland, to hard industrial warehouses, to residential development and now back to a wetland ecology. The students were encouraged to carefully look at the different habitats within the park to see if they could identify any of the flora and fauna there.

A raised boardwalk leads through the park

A raised boardwalk leads through the park

The Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park returns the land back to wetland habitats

The Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park returns the land back to wetland habitats

The next leg of the trip took to the skies as Sam and Hannah led the students and their teachers onto the Emirates Air Line. This was an opportunity for Hannah to attempt to get over her fear of heights, but more importantly to show the students how development in London is moving eastwards. From the top of the cable car Sam pointed out the ‘Goodluck Hope’ development site by Ballymore, the completed landscape in front of The Crystal, the residential development continuing along Greenwich Peninsula and the large areas of working industrial land around the Tate and Lyle Sugar Factory.

The Emirates Air Line takes 1000 passengers a week over the Thames

The Emirates Air Line takes 1000 passengers a week over the Thames

Looking north over the Thames shows the extent of development around the Royal Docks

Looking north over the Thames shows the extent of development around the Royal Docks

The working Tate and Lyle Sugar Refinery sits upon retained industrial land whilst development enshrouds it

The working Tate and Lyle Sugar Refinery sits upon retained industrial land whilst development enshrouds it

The students saw the landscape design for The Crystal  building from above, which includes native wildflowers, edible planting and plants known for low-water consumption

The students saw the landscape design for The Crystal  building from above, which includes native wildflowers, edible planting and plants known for low-water consumption

Once on the north shore of the Thames Sam and Hannah took the students on a walk alongside the Royal Docks. The floating ’Good Hotel’ piqued the interest of many of the students who were impressed by the idea that the hotel had been tugged into London from Amsterdam!


This part of the tour took the group around some areas of public realm which have matured well, and some areas that have grown tired and are now in a state of disrepair. Many of the students picked up on the broken paving, whilst other commented on the maturity of the trees and how ‘green’ they make a place.

The Good Hotel 'floated' into Greenwich in 2016

The Good Hotel 'floated' into Greenwich in 2016

The students spot the less-than-perfect paving!

The students spot the less-than-perfect paving!

The public realm north of the Royal Docks incorporated the old cranes, creating a link between the industrial past and the present. The ExCel centre in the background is a venue for large‐scale events in London.

The public realm north of the Royal Docks incorporated the old cranes, creating a link between the industrial past and the present. The ExCel centre in the background is a venue for large‐scale events in London.

Sam and Hannah paused the tour briefly on the Royal Victoria Bridge as a plane was coming into land at London City Airport. The runway for the airport sits parallel inside the royal docks, so the students were able to sit back on the bridge as the plane came into land above them. The bridge itself, designed by Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, provided enough entertainment for the students who used the iconic steel mounds as a balancing running track!

The underbelly of the plane was glimpsed between the steel cables of the bridge as it came into land at London City Airport

The underbelly of the plane was glimpsed between the steel cables of the bridge as it came into land at London City Airport

The plane flies over the Royal Docks to land

The plane flies over the Royal Docks to land

Balancing on the bridge

Balancing on the bridge

The final leg of the walking tour ended at the Thames Barrier. A quick geography lesson ensued from Mr. Barnshaw, which largely focused on climate change, rising sea levels, and flooding issues with the barrier providing a stark backdrop to the dangers the world faces. Sam described the design technicalities behind the park, including the long trench of land that was cut out as a reminder of the site’s dockland heritage. This deep gorge creates a microclimate for a long, sheltered garden, where 120 different species of plants are thriving and the tall hedges are clipped to form wave‐like shapes.

Teaching by the Thames Barrier

Teaching by the Thames Barrier

The planting flourishes at the Thames Barrier Park

The planting flourishes at the Thames Barrier Park

Sam and Hannah enjoyed leading the students on the walking tour, and were encouraged to see them noting the landscape and current developments in this part of London which is rapidly changing. Whilst at the end of the walk their minds were most certainly on lunch, Sam and Hannah hope that everyone enjoyed the tour and were able to start thinking about the different ways development and landscape can affect a busy, growing, world‐city like London.

Sam and Alice pose for a group photo with the students from the Academy after braving the heights of the Emirates Air Line

Sam and Alice pose for a group photo with the students from the Academy after braving the heights of the Emirates Air Line