Hang ‘em High: riding the East London ‘dangleway’

The North Greenwich/Royal Docks cable car – sometimes called the ‘Dangleway’, but now officially rebranded the IFS Cloud Cable Car Experience – is another legacy of Boris Johnson’s time as London mayor.

Like other Johnson legacies – see, inter alia, the ArcelorMittal Orbit, Heatherwick buses, the Garden Bridge, Brexit – this was sold as a self-financing project, (as well as being an important addition to the capital’s transport network) but the promise and reality have sharply differed. Traveller numbers are way below capacity (and break even), and TfL now sells the ten-minute trip as visitor experience rather than a transport solution.

It opened in 2012 (just prior to the Olympics) and the cars – familiar to anyone who’s even been skiing in the alps – travel some 90m above the Thames at a point where the river is around 450m wide. The rather elegant twisting towers are by the architects Wilkinson Eyre.

I went on it for the first time today and, do you know, it is great fun.

A one way trip is £5 and one just pitches up, taps one’s debit card (like on the tube) and away you go. The first week of February is hardly peak tourist season and I had a cabin to myself (in fact I had practically the entire cable way to myself. I think I saw only two other occupied cabins on my whole journey.)

The views are wonderful – down the river towards the sea, west to Canary Wharf with the City beyond (some photos below) – and one floats serenely over the Thames. 

I went from the Greenwich Peninsular to the Royal Docks (a bit of a nowhere destination, despite City Hall having decamped here last year) and headed back into town on the DLR.

As part of a travel plan it’s a bit useless and a bit expensive, but I can honestly say I spent most of the trip across the river with a big grin on my face, and there are few other TfL journeys that do that.