Sunday, 19 January 2014

Thames Path - Section 1

It didn't take much consideration before we decided to do the Thames path walk from West to East. It seemed logical for several reasons 1) that way we would get the lengthier travel out of the way early on, hopefully being back within the tube network by the time we ended our second stint of walking, and 2) I felt strongly that I wanted to end the walk not only on "home turf" but also presuming we decide to walk the extension to the London section as well, which goes right to the Kent Border, at the "actual end" of the river, too. With that in mind, we set off on Sunday morning to travel across to Hampton Court - the official start of the London Section of the path. Hampton court station itself was initially full of people visiting the palace, but by the time MrEH and I had both used the loo (having no idea when we were going to find the next one) it had quietened down somewhat and a rather pretty little station was revealed. we were slightly bemused by the sign on the resident newsagent's window suggesting we might "enjoy" a hot Pot Noodle, though!

The Thames itself was higher than I can remember seeing it for a long, long while - very close to being up to the top of the arches on Hampton Court Bridge and it rapidly became clear that using the "walkers" path right down by the waters edge was not going to be an option as it was flooded right along this first stretch...

You can see where the other path runs from the line of trees and bushes, and the bench, on the right

...I'm ashamed to admit that I've never visited Hampton Court Palace in spite of knowing that it's a beautiful place - we had a quick wander around the outside and these gorgeous stone heraldic figures caught my eye...

...there were four or five each side of the main entrance - a sort of Guard of Honour!

We'd vaguely discussed where we might end up on this first section on the days preceding but hadn't really reached any sort of firm conclusion -  just ending up agreeing that we'd start walking and when we felt we'd walked far enough, we'd stop. We didn't fret about setting any sort of fast pace either - we walked until we saw something we wanted to look more closely at, stopped, looked, photographed and then carried on walking at whatever pace felt right at the time. We stopped for lunch, we got slightly confused at Kingston trying to find the continuation of the path, and visited the cashpoint while we were looking to ensure we had beer money for later. I spent quite a lot of time photographing this view...

...of Kingston Bridge through the Avenue of trees lining the path, and MrEH read the whole of the metal plaque telling the history of Kingston Bridges past and present.  We walked past lots of little Islands, some I'd heard of, and some I hadn't. Ditton Island, Raven's Ait, Trowlock Island and the largest of the lot - the fabulously named Eel Pie Island.

We'd not arrived at Hampton Court until after midday, and in between ambling, stopping for lunch etc, the light was starting to fade by the time we reached Teddington Lock but we stopped for a cup of tea (flask!) and, refreshed, we decided to go "a bit further" - as you do!  Twickenham came and went on the opposite bank - I reflected that I was surprised my feet weren't aching more. Past a little landing stage where earlier in the day we could - had we wanted, and for the princely sum of £1 each - got a ferry across to the other bank. Richmond appeared on the signpost at that stage - we looked at each other; Several decent pubs to choose from, and an easy route back via the District Line Tube, it was a no-brainer! Gradually the lights of Richmond got brighter and brighter - it was properly dark by now and we were glad of the decent path we were walking on - earlier on it had been far more potholed and muddy! Finally we reached Richmond Bridge...

...and wasted no time in finding some of this...

I'm not usually a pint-drinker but I can assure you that this one didn't last long as it felt VERY well deserved!

We'll be setting off in a few weeks to do the next stretch which we're hoping will take up to Hammersmith Bridge.



VintagePretty said...

That does look like quite a walk! I tend to neglect inner-city walks in favour of quieter countryside, but there are a lot of wonderful places in our cities to make use of (I loved the Quayside at Newcastle and walking down to see all the bridges there!)

Lovely photo of Richmond Bridge with its lights - it reminds me of Paris at night. I must admit I don't know much of London - we tend to avoid it on the account of huge crowds etc. But this walk has definitely made me re-think the place :)

Best wishes,

Tash from

Robyn said...

We're quite fortunate that we have good options for either country or urban walks relatively close by, and yes, we've generally tended to neglect the former in favour of the latter too!
The Thames path is something I grew up walking on bits of regularly, with my Nan, my Dad, and then later on my own, but always as a means of getting from place to place, not just for the very sake of itself, so when we started thinking about wanting to make walking more of a focus this year, it was a natural one to go for!
(I've got a bit of a "thing" about bridges by the way - love them, so expect to see plenty more bridge pictures as this walk continues!)