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Life drawing, trapeze lessons and a snake slide: it's the best bits of Woolwich

By Time Out London contributor
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Weird and wonderful, this pocket of Thameside London is one to make tracks to.

What’s the vibe?

A glorious heritage site, this bustling riverside district has big green spaces, amazing military architecture and a real-life ferry across the Thames to Silvertown. 

I’ve just stepped off the DLR. Where now?

Head to The Royal Arsenal, where you’ll find a quirky mix of culture and history. The giant former workshops and tree-lined streets are perfect for a spot of wandering. Also based here is Firepower: The Royal Artillery Museum, with a collection of weapons from down the ages: bows and arrows to very big guns.

Anything to do along the river?

Woolwich is home to a Thames cycle route that’ll take you to Greenwich in one direction and Dartford in Kent in the other. It’s along the westbound route that you’ll find Second Floor Studios (Harrington Way), home to hundreds of artists, designers and makers. Regular exhibitions are held at No Format gallery, while the wonderful terraced café overlooks the Thames Barrier. Life drawing classes take place on Wednesday evenings and themed supper clubs will run throughout August.

Chris Cooke

I’ve heard tales of a legendary retro 1980s leisure centre...

The legends are true! If you head past Peter Burke's 'Assembly' sculpture at Royal Arsenal, a short stroll along the river takes you to the incredible 'snake slide' protruding from the Waterfront Leisure Centre (Woolwich High Street). The swimming pool comes complete with wave machine, jacuzzi, lane slide and a sauna. You packed your swimsuit, right?

Er, no. But I’m feeling pretty active.

Try The Reach Climbing Wall (Mellish Industrial Estate), which has a refurbished bouldering lounge and 750sqm of roped climbing. Or, if you want something leftfield, in the same building you’ll find Aircraft Circus, offering classes in everything from trapeze to body contortion.

Okay, I could really use a drink after that.

The Woolwich Equitable (Vincent Road) serves a rolling selection of ales and draught beers, and is worth a trip for its marble decor alone, while the handsome Dial Arch pub (Major Draper Street) is based in a converted munitions factory and does decent, well-priced food.

And if I only do one thing?

Finish the day at Blue Nile (Woolwich New Road), briefly ranked on TripAdvisor as the number one restaurant in London. This family-run Eritrean gem has a cool 1930s tiled interior and serves a range of meat and vegan bebiaynetu (Italian and Ethiopian stews), all dished up with doughy injera bread to soak up the flavours.

By Emily Mahon, who has been reading the graffiti on the walls of Woolwich sinz 1k993.

Fancy a change of scene? Take a look at the best bits of Homerton.

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