Thames Explorer Challenge Route 1 – City Circular, follows the existing Thames Path north and south of the River Thames. We wanted to make this route accessible to all potential users and hope that the following information* will support anyone travelling with wheels or mobility issues.
City Circular route overview
The vast majority of the City Circular route proceeds along good, wheelchair-friendly surfaces, with little or no gradient. However, at a few points, such as at Millennium Bridge, Tower Bridge and at a few ramps along the route, the gradient is steep enough to present a problem for the average wheelchair user. Cobbles and uneven flagstones particularly around Point 1, Tower of London/Traitors’ Gate, may also present difficulties.
We would recommend that wheelchair users of average ability or below take along a support person to both push and stabilise the wheelchair at certain points. For accomplished users, and/or for those who use sports wheelchairs the route is fully accessible.
Point 1 to 2
At Point 1, Traitors’ Gate, there is a challenging surface of cobblestones and uneven flagstones and heading away from the Tower there is a short hill at the perimeter gates. The route continues with a good, flat surface to Point 2, Old Billingsgate Market, where there is a steep ramp (with handrail) with a 90 degree turning point.
Point 2 to 3
A good, flat surface in front of Old Billingsgate market leading to a long shallow ramp to the west of the market building, there is a 90 degree turn at the halfway point. From here to Point 3, St. Magnus-the-Martyr, the route is flat and good going.
Point 3 to 4
The route between Point 3 and Point 4, Cannon Street Railway Bridge, is flat and well paved.
Point 4 to 5
Good, flat surface to Point 5, Queenhithe Dock, except for small steep ramps at either side of pedestrian underpass at Southwark Bridge.
Point 5 to 6
Challenging surface of cobblestones and flagstones alongside Queenhithe mosaic; at the junction of Queenhithe Road with High Timber street there is a step/kerb free camber and tactile paving for visually impaired users indicating the point to cross to High Timber Street, which is fairly narrow and uneven – good flat, even surface between Gardener’s Lane and Point 6, Millennium Bridge.
Point 6 to 7
At Point 6 wheelchair users need to use a lift to get to the northern access ramp of Millennium Bridge (if lift is out of order, use one at Blackfriars). There are very challenging slopes on either side of Millennium Bridge (south to north most challenging). From the south bank to Point 7, Shakespeare’s Globe, the route is flat with good paving.
Point 7 to 8
From Point 7 to Point 8, the Golden Hinde, the route is flat and well paved.
Point 8 to 9
Good, flat and well paved route between these points. Between the Golden Hinde and London Bridge use Cathedral Street and the northern pavement of Montague Close which takes you under the southern approach ramp of London Bridge. The route continues along Tooley Street and turns left along St Olaf Stairs – a well paved path. It then joins the river again and follows a well paved path to HMS Belfast, Point 9.
Point 9 to 10
Between Point 9 and Point 10, City Hall, the route is flat and well paved.
Point 10 to 1
Between Point 10 to Point 1 the route is mainly flat and well paved. At Tower Bridge, just under the southern approach ramp tunnel, there is a wheelchair-accessible lift. Wheelchair users will need to use full length of the northern approach ramp on the downstream side of the bridge. At the end of this ramp turn right and cross the road onto St Katherine’s Way. There is a step/kerb free camber and tactile paving, plus a pedestrian island at this crossing point. At the junction with Cloister Walk cross St Katherine’s Way* at the step/kerb free crossing point, and take the tunnel under the northern access ramp of Tower Bridge (narrow pedestrian access gate). Challenging surface of uneven flagstones and cobblestones to Point 1 Traitors’ Gate. *Moderate gradient along St Katherine’s Way may be challenging
Grateful thanks to wheelchair user and member of the Southwark Disablement Association (SDA) Alan Woodham, who trialled the route in December 2019 with Thames Explorer Trust teacher Neil Clarke.