Poring over an Ordnance Survey map of south-east London, I pause as I spot a possible Odd Day Out. Strange helical markings nestled between the roads of a residential area in Thamemead – surely this is some sort of Historical Footnote.
A short distance from Belmarsh prison, marked out like a giant ammonite, this strange pattern offered no clues to its identity. Perhaps it represents some iron-age hill fort or an ancient monument to long-forgotten gods.
Upon futher research, I discover that Gallions Hill is actually a recently constructed man-made ‘tor’.
Built from recycled excavated material dug up during the construction of the surrounding housing development. It is the focal point of the recently-opened (January 2017) Gallions Reach Park, created from land left vacant from the former Royal Arsenal. The park features wildflower meadows and 800 new trees as well as smaller mounds to reflect the larger hill.
Not quite the ancient monument envisioned from the mysterious map markings.
However, Gallions Hill offers a fairly unique and relatively unknown viewpoint of London and is well situated for any plane spotters looking to view the comings and goings of aircraft from the nearby City Airport.
According to the Londonist, Gallions Hill is the highest point in Thamesmead – but, at only twenty-metres-high, it likely to feature only on the most niche list of ‘peaks’ to ‘bag’ in London.
Visiting Gallions Hill
Parking is available in the streets surronding the hill.
Getting to the top of this landmark only requires a short walk – even quicker if you decide to simply run up the side of the hill (As one of our party did…) rather than follow the
natural curvature of the path which winds around the hill.
The pinnacle of Gallions Hill features a paved plateau in the form of a compass. Looking above the adjacent residential development, you can see familiar London landmarks such as Canary Wharf and take in the panoramic views of South-East London.