2009-06-21 51 0

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Sun 21 Jun 2009 in 51,0:
51.4907867, 0.0213773

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Seemingly in a disused area of wasteland behind an ALDI store in Greenwich, London





Simple plan:

  • Cross the river
  • Nip across Greenwich for a mile(ish)
  • Find the hashpoint.

Having just been on the Isle of Dogs for the initial expedition, it was a no-brainer, really. That and the little detour I took in the name of Geohashing...



You might have noticed that the area is Greenwich. Those versed in the details of the history of latitude and longitude might recognise the name. Those who aren't would be well advised to google for it and follow the 3rd link. It's for the National Maritime Museum, which incorporates amongst other things the Royal Observatory. How could I not go there - arguably the grandfather location of geohashing - on the way? This is all, however, on the foundation of a technological catastrophe established in the first part of the day.


From the London West hashpoint I headed straight out to the north bank of the Thames and followed it along until I reached the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. Had never taken the tunnel before and, although it wasn't much to write home about it was a funky thing to do in the name of Geohashing - almost 400 meters of tunnel with the River Thames flowing above your head. It's over 100 years old and quite rightly in the middle of some serious renovation. Once back up on the other side of the river the exit is sited next to the Cutty Sark, an old boat that is also currently undergoing serious restoration after it was practically destroyed by arson a few years ago - I'd not seen it for about 5 years it was pretty sad it see it covered in white tarp.

Back to the story though, and I headed up to Greenwich Park - I didn't need the GPS for this part as (1) it's well signposted and (2) the observatory is sited at the top of a hill and practically impossible to miss by eye.

Greenwich Observatory[edit]

Atop the hill I took in the views back across London and primarily the docklands area I'd come through to get to the Isle of Dogs. A quite magnificent sight on a gorgeous day as it was. There are several places around the city to collect majestic views and this is easily among the best.

I wandered across to the observatory and scrambled my way among the tourists to grab a few snaps of the site - the old 24hr clock, a plaque of the prime meridian and an info board confirming the details. I watched the tourists standing in line to have their photos taken whilst standing on the line and realised that I was in the middle of a venture that relied upon GPS - isn't that the perfect moment to align the two and [prove] that I was standing on the meridian myself? I placed my phone on the line and went to grab my camera...

And then it struck me - the Longitude measurement was showing as -0.00148. What?!!? Had someone moved the line? Well, clearly not, but this margin of error was clearly more than the simple 20 feet of potential inaccuracy suggested by the app and that it was fibbing to me. A soul-destroying moment if ever there was one. I did then go for an additional wander and snapped the phone when it showed exactly zero, but it wasn't quite as romantic for obvious reasons.

I trotted off down the hill on the back of a second lowpoint of the day and ventured in the rough direction of the hashpoint. At this stage, it did matter that I knew where I was going and optimistically checked my phone. It worked! The map loaded and I could see what I needed to again. Result! The mystic healing power of a visit to the Observatory, perhaps?

Back to the route[edit]

There's certainly nothing romantic about walking through the streets of Greenwich once out of the park boundary. I followed the route along to the retail park and found the ALDI store. A concrete path surrounded the store and led to the back of it. There were no signs and it was out of store opening hours, so I wandered around to the wasteland that housed the hashpoint and was met with a horrific sight - six foot high nettles! This wasn't going to happen, and for the second time in just my first three attempts I was defeated by mother nature. Double darn!

There's nothing further to do in that part of the world on a Sunday so I headed for a Jubilee line tube at North Greenwich, under the site of the old Millennium Dome which is now an events venue). Tube was down and had to take a rail replacement bus (still, public transport to the hilt!) and then the DLR back into the city and then followed my route back home.

I did briefly consider returning to the first point of the day now that I could confirm (or otherwise) my success, but decided that was probably against the spirit, and would likely add another day to my expedition that I couldn't really afford.


Log loaded onto Google Maps here. Note that this is the second part of my two-hash expedition and so picks off part way through the day.


MNB Ribbon.jpg
NorseMark earned the "Mother Nature's Bitch" Consolation Prize
by failing to reach the (51, 0) geohash on 2009-06-21.
2009 06 21 Norse 16.jpg