Monday, April 29, 2024

Walking with Keilyn: Brunel Museum to Rotherhithe... and beyond

Keilyn at the Brunel Museum
Keilyn ready to visit the Brunel Museum.

Saturday April 27, 2024.

Another Saturday saw Keilyn and I take another trip to London. Specifically to visit the Brunel Museum, but then to explore the area.

Our trip began the same way as usual; Metropolitan line to Finchley Road and then on to Bermondsey.

Our first stop, on reaching Bermondsey, was to grab a coffee and hot chocolate, which we purchased from the Servewell Cafe, before continuing along Jamaica Road to Southwark Park. The forecast said that rain was due at around 14:00, so we decided to visit Southwark Park before it began.

Keilyn in the bandstand
Keilyn at the Southwark Park Bandstand.

We visited the bandstand, before passing the bowling green, crossing Carriage Drive, where we discovered the Caryatids of Rotherhithe Old Town Hall. 

The Caryatids of Rotherhithe Old Town Hall
The Caryatids of Rotherhithe Old Town Hall.

From here we entered the Ada Salter Garden and then made our way around Southwark Boating Lake, before heading back towards Jamaica Road and King's Stairs Gardens.

Southwark Park Boating Lake
Southwark Park Boating Lake.

From here it was a short walk along Saint Marychurch Street to the Brunel Museum, passing the historic Mayflower pub along the way.

Brunel Museum Plaque
Brunel's Engine House plaque.

To our surprise the Brunel Museum was deserted, so we had the entire place to ourselves for our entire visit. After purchasing our tickets, Keilyn was issued with a clipboard with two sheets of questions about the museum and the history of the Thames Tunnel, called 'The Brunel Detective Trail'.

Thames Tunnel Shaft
Keilyn 50-feet down the Thames Tunnel Shaft.

Our first stop was to the Thames Tunnel shaft, from where the tunnel's construction began. After being ushered in to this cavernous shaft, with its bare brick and smoke-coated walls, we were left to explore on our own. At the bottom of the shaft Keilyn and I took a seat and watched a 4-minute video, that was set on a continuous loop, that explained the reasoning, construction and effect the Thames Tunnel had on London and the world. As we watched the video we could hear, and feel the London Overground (The Windrush line, from Autumn 2024) rumbling past beneath our feet.

Brunel Museum
Some of the artefacts on display.

Dual-layer Peepshow
Looking through a dual-layer peepshow at how the Thames Tunnel originally looked.

We then made our way to the museum and looked for answers to Keilyn's activity questions, both inside and outside the museum. For a small museum there is a lot of information and many artefacts to discover. 

Suspension Bridge Seat
Keilyn using a suspension bridge as a seat.

With all questions answered, we purchased the by now standard notebook and pencils and, after thanking the two staff members, made our way on to Rotherhithe Street and joined the Thames Path.

Stave Hill Viewpoint
Canary Wharf, on the Isle of Dogs, from the Stave Hill viewpoint.

We eventually found ourselves close to Stave Hill viewpoint. This viewpoint, situated in the Stave Hill Ecological Park, is a mound that has sixty fairly steep steps to climb. But, when you reach the top, the view is definitely worth it. 

Surrey Water
The calm water of Surrey Water.

From here we followed our feet and ended up at Canada Water, before heading to Surrey Water and on to Rotherhithe station. This wasn't part of our plan, but since we had learnt the history of the Thames Tunnel, I thought we should take the short train ride to Wapping, just so that we could see, for ourselves, the original entrances to the Thames Tunnel.

Thames Tunnel Entrance
The original pedestrian entrances to the Thames Tunnel, Wapping.

From here we followed the Thames Path to St Katharine Docks and Marina, before continuing on to Tower Bridge and the Tower of London. 

Keilyn at Tower Bridge
Keilyn acting like a Tourist.

A few touristy photos were taken, before we visited the London Vaults to look at the souvenir shops, as Keilyn wa determined to spend her money. 

London Vaults Diner
Tower Hill Diner, now closed.

With nothing sparking her interest we decided to grab a lunch at KFC. Once we were suitably refuelled we headed to Trinity Square Gardens and the Tower Hill Memorial. Again, for a Saturday afternoon close to some of the most historic sites in the area, the area was quite deserted, allowing for some unobscured photo and video opportunities.

Trinity Square Gardens and the Tower Hill Memorial
Trinity Square Gardens and the Tower Hill Memorial.

Up Cooper's Row, Lloyd's Avenue, Fenchurch Street to Aldgate we walked, stopping at Costa Coffee for a sit down and a warm drink. 

Hot Chocolate and a Millionaire Shortbread
Time to refuel.

Keilyn decided that we would catch a train when she was tired, so we set off down Leadenhall Street, on to Cornhill and then Cheapside. Unfortunately, the viewing area at One New Change is closed for the next few months, so we visited the Reflection Garden, where we discovered the reflecting pool was empty.

Keilyn at the Reflection Garden
Keilyn in the Reflection Garden.

From here we made our way through St Paul's Churchyard and headed up Saint Martin Le Grand towards the now closed Museum of London. Although the museum is now closed the pedways are still open, which were wonderful to explore with no one else around.

Museum of London and Bastion House
Museum of London and Bastion House.

With Keilyn beginning to tire, we made our way up Aldersgate Street to Barbican station.

Barbican Station
The disused lines at Barbican station.

From here we caught a Circle line train to Baker Street, where, after purchasing some more snacks, we boarded a train for home.

The rain, that had threatened, didn't arrive until well after we had reached home, ensuring that our day out was another great and interesting one.

 Distance travelled:

  • Car - 0.0 miles
  • Taxi - 0.9 miles
  • Train - 0.4 miles
  • Underground - 41 miles
  • Walking - 8.5 miles


  1. Wow. No wonder she was tired! But what a lot seen and learned.

  2. It was a great day out, where we both saw and learnt about different, unique and interesting things.