Sunday, 9 February 2014

Thames Path - Section 2

Last Sunday dawned gloriously sunny so we set off to walk the next section of the London Thames Path. You might remember that our first days walking a few weeks ago took us from Hampton Court (the start of the London Section) through to Richmond Bridge, so naturally enough it was to Richmond Bridge that we headed to start this section! It's a far easier journey than Hampton Court as the whole trip can be done using the London underground, mind you, the District Line all the way down there still takes an age! We arrived at Richmond at just before midday though, giving us plenty of time for the stretch we wanted to walk.

The first thing that struck us about Richmond was how old fashioned it felt - with lots of old fashioned proper boathouses still working on "real" wooden boats (and submarines, apparently!). The second thing that struck us was that the path along the first stretch was clearly where the trendies go on a Sunday - it was full of yummy mummies and designer babies! After a short while though they mostly thinned out and the walking got easier as we weren't constantly dodging joggers and being ambushed by cyclists. (By the way, Cyclists - you know that funny shiny thing on your handlebars? it's a BELL - feckin' well ring it!)

For the first couple of miles of this section we were walking past first Richmond park, then the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. It was lovely seeing all the gorgeous green spaces, and also things like the meridian obelisks - placed there to allow for the setting up of instruments from the Kew Observatory. Just near to Twickenham Bridge MrEH spotted this odd little building...

...we've been entirely unable to find out anything about it, and there was nothing nearby to shed any light.

One notable thing about this section was the fact that we were right under the Heathrow main approach, and right through the day we had planes coming directly overhead, dropping their landing gear just as they passed us... one point we finally thought we'd passed the flight path, then clearly conditions changed as everything started heading across in front of us again!

We were soon right into the heart of Boat Race country, and the number of crews out training on the river was quite surprising - I had no idea it was such a popular hobby! we were also passing underneath more and more bridges - 7 in total on this section I think, although more if you include where there are adjacent railway and road bridges. The most impressive of the bunch is probably Hammersmith bridge... it is looking majestic in the late afternoon sunshine. Here you see the problem with me choosing my 50mm lens to document this walk with - it proved impossible to get a decent picture of the whole bridge! I had to settle for some nice textural detail instead...

We'd originally thought that we might only get as far as Hammersmith, depending how long this first 6 and a half miles had taken us, and how the daylight was looking. As you can see though we'd made good time and there was still bright sunshine, so we made the decision to continue to Putney. It was at about that stage that I noticed that the sole was starting to peel away from my right walking boot...not ideal this, particularly considering they were under a year old! (Subsequently to this I contacted the excellent Customer Service team at Mountain Warehouse and they told me to return the boots for a replacement or refund, the store I returned to also confirmed to me that they had not seen this problem on these boots before). Full credit to the boots for tenacity though - not only did the sole hang on until we'd finished walking, it stayed put right the way home, too! Good thing too as there was still more to see. This amazing building... posh flats, and the Wildfowl & Wetland Trust's London Wetlands Centre, which we realised we were passing when we saw these chaps on the fence...

On the other side of the river meanwhile, as we stopped for the final cuppa from the flask, was Fulham FC's football ground "Craven Cottage". This used to be shortened to simply "The Cottage" but in the light of the "alternative" current use for that term the supporters now tend to prefer to use the name in full, as I understand it. ;-) (Supporters are still apparently known as "The Cottagers" however - although whether more by opposing fans than themselves, I have no idea!)

From there there was just another mile or so up to Putney, where we wasted no time in finding a pub (The Bricklayers Arms, as it happens, one of our favourites) for our traditional well-deserved beer, before heading home. Eventual walk length from bridge to bridge was 8.5 miles, and my pedometer recorded over 27,000 steps in the day! the next stretch will be walked at some stage in March.



Wendy said...

This is close to my old neck of the woods, Robyn! I lived in Chiswick for three years and did plenty of drinking in the pubs on the river (north side) I know what you mean about Richmond, it is very wealthy. I would love the go to WWT reserve at Barnes which was developed after I left. It is really on my 'must do' list.

Scarlet said...

It looks like you had beautiful weather for your walk. Glad the boots held together until you got home!

Robyn said...

The WWT reserve is definitely on our list too - I believe I'm right in saying that you can exchange Clubcard vouchers for admission too - so that's a way of cutting the cost of a visit still further. Good pubs in and around the Chiswick area - we have a meeting once a year in the Fullers brewery - great location!
Scarlet - so was I glad, I had visions of the sole just continuing to peel off to the extent that I just had to remove it completely! I've now got a replacement pair - hopefully those won't develop any faults!