Thames Path – Kingston Bridge to Chertsey Bridge (section 3)

The third section of my Thames Path walk, from Kingston bridge towards Chertsey bridge should be around 11 miles but I walked 12.21miles (19.65km).

Map of section 3 of the Thames Path

It took me over 4h to get to the start of this section. Public transport on a Sunday morning is a challenge.

I started today’s walk along Barge Walk by Kingston bridge. The path was busy with families and couples cycling and walking, some runners, some rowers, and even some children feeding the seagulls , in this nice and sunny Sunday afternoon.

It was warm enough in the sun but cool in the shade, around 11 degrees Celsius.

Switching sides

I should explain that today I started my walk on the North bank for the first time since the start of the Thames Path walk. This took me along Hampton court and then to Molesey bridge where I crossed over again. I crossed from North to South Bank and back to North again, including by ferry at Shepperton Lock.

View from Kingston bridge

Food

Even though I had only started the walk at midday, I stopped on a bench after a quarter of an hour for a protein shake as a snack.

My last couple of walks have taught me to try and plan some food to take with me, meaning I don’t have to rely on finding cafes or spend too much money all the time. I would much recommend that if you’re planning to do the Thames Path walk too.

Today I packed some snacks (protein powder and a shaker), a banana, a plum, an oat bar, some nuts and a ham and spinach pitta sandwich. I also have 1.2L of water in two bottles.

My rucksack this morning

The sounds of the Thames Path

Very much like the last couple of days’ walk along the Thames, the sounds are a major feature of my experience. Fom the rumbling of the cars, which you can just about see through the trees and the boats on the far side of the Thames, to a couple of boats passing along, the seagulls, people chattering, the sound of the wind and the leaves in the trees, and the water splashing along the banks after a boat has gone past.

Rambling on

To my left, and on the far side of the Thames there was the sailboat yard from Surbiton and to my right I get to Hampton Court and could see some horses, fields, and stables behind the trees. It was a nice straight path, not too muddy at all and fairly dry today, some leaves on the floor. The sun was shiny, and actually I realised I forgot to bring sunglasses, which would have been really useful this afternoon.

Around 13:00, I approached the Pavilion, on my right, but I could only really see a wall and the walking path next to it, unfortunately. At that stage, the weather had warned up and I took my jumper off. It was a pleasant afternoon. I crossed to the South bank at Molesey bridge.

Molesey Lock looked good. I’m always impressed by Locks engineering. I stopped at the Molesey Lock café to have my sandwich and a lovely black Americano, sound outside. The person serving me was very pleasant and asked about my walk.

The café doesn’t have toilets but there are some public toilets just a few meters away along the path, which were surprisingly clean. I also took the opportunity to stop to check my feet which looked fine and I put on fresh socks.

As I come to the proximity of the Molesley nature reserve on my left, the path had become quieter and only a couple of walkers were about as well as a couple of cyclists the other way. There, the Thames seemed animated with swinging and dancing of sailboats through the fairly strong winds today.

The path, which was quiet until just before Walton Wharf, became busier just after passing Walton. My guess was that people were perhaps having evening walks or afternoon walks at their Sunday dinner.

The plan was to take the ferry at Shepperton Lock but I became a little anxious, seeing a few of the other ferries along the way we’re not operating because of adverse weather (I guess it was higher wind than normal?). So I found the Shepperton ferry’s phone number on my phone (https://www.nauticalia-marine-services.co.uk/shepperton-weybridge-pedestrian-ferry/) and they confirmed that they were operating today.

I got to Walton bridge where things were getting a little bit quieter.

To signal that you are waiting for the ferry, at Shepperton Lock, you need to ring the bell on the quarter hour. I didn’t do a great job at ringing the bell, but it worked. I then stopped at the café and drank another black Americano andngrabbed a slice of coffee & walnut cake before using the toilet and head to Chertsey. Despite not needing to go, I thought I should mention that there are done public toilets of few hundred metres after the café, in case you need.

Someone must have been having a garden fire as it was quite smoky and the landscape was quite eerie as you approach Pharaoh Island. With the sun setting, the colours and hue were changing, to the point it gave an eerie feel to the evening. I’ve read that all the houses are named after Egyptian places and items.

On the last stretch, the sun had set a little while before and I stopped a lot, taking quite a few pictures trying to capture the colours of the subset, but they weren’t great as there seemed to have a lot of power lines in the way, which was not that pretty, but I guess they are part of our landscape in some way.

The Thames at that point was really quiet. I kept walking on the tow path. The sounds had changed quite a lot, mainly coming from the noisy road on the other side of the Dumsey meadow, and from planes (we are very close to Heathrow).

The moon, just overhead, was so lovely: a thin waxing crescent. I really enjoyed that last stretch of the walk, this evening.

As I arrived by Chertsey bridge, I could see a few flocks of migrating birds and fewer planes but also one fisherman in the dark, and a couple of couples walking dogs. It was only just before five but felt much later as it was quite dark. The street lights were on and you could see their pretty reflections in the Thames.

I completed the third section, checked in my lovely hotel room with river view (had to change rooms because my door was broken), had a nice warming dinner at the pub downstairs and sat to plan tomorrow’s section.

I’m tired so it’s great time I get some rest before tomorrow’s 12 or so miles to Windsor.

Thames Path – Putney Bridge to Kingston Bridge (section 2)

It’s the morning of day two, after checking maps and a quick breakfast at a café, I have made my way back to Putney bridge a bit later than yesterday.

The idea behind a later start was that any cafés or toilets or pubs on the way should be open by the time I reach them this time.
This side of London is such a sharp contrast to the start of my walk yesterday.
Not only it’s not foggy today, but more than the weather, the change of surroundings such as the boat houses, rowers, rowing boats, and ducks have replaced the industrial concrete factories and seagulls.

I left behind the concrete pavements to now follow what has become a towpath along the Thames, a track with leaves and occasionally mud. It’s Sunday morning so there are many dog walkers, families, runners and cyclists on the path.

In contrast to yesterday there isn’t as much variety on my walk. On my left are woods, sometimes houses or boat houses and, later on, Kew Gardens; on my right is the Thames with rowing boats and canal boats.

The walk features a nature reserve called ‘Leg’O’Mutton’ , Hammermith Bridge, Harrod’s Village and furniture depository too. Then I also went past Kew Gardens and Old Deer Park with its obelisk.

Isleworth, near Kew (North bank)

Hunger was setting in as I approached Richmond Bridge, so I was planning stop at a pub called the White Swan. But they were full so I carried on.

Richmond felt like a seaside town with its ‘beach’ by the bridge, the seagulls, an ice cream van, people waiting for food, and people going about their Sunday by the boats.
I stopped there for lunch, taking about an hour’s break. My feet were extremely sore.
Richmond has a lot of cafés and restaurants. If I had to do the walk again, I would definitely aim to get there for lunchtime.


On the way towards Ham House which is National Trust property, Petersham Meadows were looking really pretty, with some cows lying in the field.

At the risk of repeating myself, my feet were really sore since after lunch.
I went past Eel Pie Island. I read in my guide book was named after a dish they used today serve in the hotel, which has since been destroyed.

I stopped by the Ham Lands’ nature reserve because my feet hurt so much. I took ibuprofen with some water, I took off my hoodie and went on.

Despite the discomfort, I really enjoyed the area of Teddington and the locks.

Around 15:00 I approached Kingston upon Thames. Since the Ham Lands’ natural reserve, I have seen quite a few fishermen. I hadn’t seen any yesterday or in the morning.

I could see Kingston bridge in the distance, the sun was shining, and I was looking forward to dinner later with my friend Marieke who had joined me in London.

Just going past Steven’s Eyot, I observed more canal boats moored there, people feeding seagulls and swans and ducks and pigeons. On my left Canbury Gardens seemed such a beautiful lively park, lined up with benches, overlooking the Thames, Making it a very pleasant last little stretch of today’s walk towards the bridge.

I have completed day 2 of the Thames Path trail upstream. I walked from the Putney Bridge to Kingston Bridge in 6 hours.
I covered about 14 miles (22.8 km). The previous day it took me 9 hours for 23.5 miles (37.9 km). So that’s 15h of walk for 37.5 miles (60.7 km).
I’m so glad I gave this a start and look forward to the next stretch in a few weeks.

Now to get a train back to London.

Thames Path – The Thames Barrier to Putney Bridge (section 1)

Before the walk

It was a dark morning out when I left my hotel room to St Pancras to find my train towards Charlton.

It’s such a great feeling to embark onto a new little adventure: the unknown and excitement blend into a great positive energy.


I then walked for about 20 minutes from the station to the Thames Barrier, stopping to get water to refill my bottles, and passed through an industrial estate with pretty inconsiderate parking blocking the pavement and lorries going past so it was not a very scenic start of my day.

However, as I walked up the steps towards the start of the Thames path, overlooking the Barrier, I looked back and enjoyed the avenue of trees.
I also saw a cute cherry tree in the middle of the industrial estate. I’m not sure my photo captured its beauty and how outstanding it felt.

The Thames Barrier area also displays a lot of heritage and educational artefacts that can be observed as you approach the area on foot. There’s also a memorial to those who lost their lives building the Barrier.
If you want to know more about the barrier and how it works, head to the Environment Agency site. The future of the barrier, due to the impact of climate change is an important topic with massive impact. It’s worth a read.

The start of the walk

It was foggy but you could still just about see the other bank just as I started my walk. The morning then became so foggy you couldn’t see the other bank of the Thames once I got started on the walk . What struck me as I started my walk along this 180 miles path is the juxtaposition of the industrial area needing the Thames water, and the water and wildlife from the Thames, with in between the Thames Path with trees, blending the industrial to the natural alongside to concrete factories.

As I begin my journey along the Thames Path, it strikes me how reading blogs and books will never be enough to understand a route. And if you’re lucky enough to come here yourself and experience the route, you will be able to get your own feel for the good, the bad and the ugly.

I can’t recommend enough that you retrace my steps, or rather make your own steps, be it upstream or downstream along this path.

My initial progress is extremely slow as I stopped a lot to take many pictures. I imagined my rate of taking pictures will reduce as I walk along the path. I suspect I should take the opportunity for this foggy morning where we cannot see much to pick up my pace, and take fewer pictures but enjoy the experience on the walk itself.

However, as I walk along the tidal Thames, with its beaches and concrete factories, I reflect on the need for our ever demanding growing consumerism, the need for these concrete factories to produce new concrete for roads and infrastructures that we demand in our daily lives. Those very infrastructures that we rely on and that I rely on to organise this walk.

I arrived at the Greenwich Peninsula. Just before the Greenwich Yacht Club, as you turn the corner towards the ecology park along the Jubilee Greenway, this burned motorbike or small moped ironically lays across the floor, on the path.

I progressed to a more residential part of my walk along the Olympian Way, along the Thames, with a lot of newer buildings. As it is Saturday morning, there are many walkers, walking dogs, walking in families, even though the weather is quite foggy.
I had no idea about the Emirates cable cars you can use to cross the Thames. I couldn’t see the other end as the cable cars disappeared in the foggy sky above the Thames. In some ways I felt I missed out on a lot of sights because of the fog that morning.
I come to the first challenge of my walk. I have been carrying and drinking a water bottle, which didn’t fit in my backpacks’ two water bottles. So I come to a point where I need the toilet, and I do not know where to go. It seems everything (pubs/cafés) only opens after 10:00. I imagine this is going to be a bigger challenge as I progress through the walk if it’s already a challenge in London!

At this point in my walk as I walk past the huge O2 building, my thoughts are mostly around my lack of pace so far, but also the noticing the sounds around me, the constant murmur of the construct concrete factories that I have left behind, the sound of the Thames here in London, added to the odd cacophony of birds on the sandy tidal banks of the Thames.

Greenwich peninsula

I stopped at the Riverside Garden Café for a coffee and using the toilet. I ended up staying for a delicious second breakfast. I had smashed avocado with chilli on sourdough bread and poached eggs, which should keep me going for at least three hours.

Luckily, as I left the café, the sun started to come out and I can now see the other bank of the Thames, unable to take further pictures. At this point, I’m also moving onto a nice little residential area with lovely little streets, and a few more pubs and the Cutty Sark.
Shortly after this, I came across people queuing for a food bank. Suddenly I felt terrible for having had that second breakfast in a middle class café. I haven’t shifted that feeling since.

As I pass the Cutty Sark and the Old Royal Naval Collage, the promenade is getting busier with local walkers and the sun is truly shining. The noises have switched from the industrial humming of the Thames to the tidal noise and a lot of voices talking in different languages. An older man practises Tai Chi on a basketball court, people chat with each other in the street; altogether giving a sense of a lively community.

After Canada Wharf, my navigation hasn’t been perfect as the Thames Path wasn’t fully accessible and I took a detour around the back streets, allowing me to discover Twinkle Park, and Sayes Court Park (and its mulberry tree – see my pictures) as well as some engineering and heritage features (boundary stone, gauge house, hydraulic pumps, etc.). I discovered the Greenwich tunnel too. I eventually re-joined the path at the Salt Quay pub from where I could see the Shard and other buildings from the rest of London, in the distance. I stay here a while enjoying the views and taking pictures of the lock and of the local sculptures.

I came across families enjoying Surrey Docks Farms, just before reaching Tower Bridge. Then I found a link with home (Swindon) as the Brunel Engine House houses the Brunel museum. I’m familiar with Brunel as he influenced the Swindon (and broader local area such as Bristol) history, and I’ve visited the SS Great Britain in Bristol too.

Southwark

I arrived to what is usually my favourite part of London, but as I turn the corner from Tower Bridge, there were a lot of people around, suddenly.

There were literally hundreds of people everywhere when I reached Borough Market. No social distancing and people blowing their nose and coughing which all triggered a bit of irrational post-Covid social anxiety. I kept walking for a few kilometres, past the Golden Hinde and Winchester Palace (see photos) until I found a quiet café, in the back of the Oxo Tower. I changed my socks, washed my hands a lot, ordered lunch and sat for a while. I felt better.

I should really have expected it. A sunny Saturday in a capital city along the river… but it’s the first time since before the start if the pandemic that I found myself in such crowds.

Once I passed the London Eye and Westminster Bridge things were a little quieter.

Something that’s been humbling me was the wall of hearts Southbank opposite the Houses of Parliament. It’s the National Covid Memorial Wall, with thousands of people’s names, who died of COVID-19 in the last 18 months. These were lives that have been lost; staunch reminder of the pandemic still being here.

Lambeth, Vauxhall and Battersea

It’s definitely been quieter, on the other side of Lambert’s bridge, as I’d hoped, which was really pleasant. The sun was still out, although most of the afternoon had been in the shade of the buildings on this side of the Thames. I have been very lucky with the weather. On the Albert Embankment, I came across Lambeth Basaveshwara statue, then I went through the Riverside gardens and past ‘The Tower’.
Unfortunately more detours awaited as the Thames Path was closed in places due to construction work.

The Battersea Power Station area has been completed regenerated and it was quite busy. It seems it’s the latest place to be in London?
Battersea Park was very pleasant but at that point, I won’t lie, my feet hurt quite a lot. I focus on reaching Putney Bridge there, and observe some wildlife, ducks on the water, and I look forward to sitting down and having dinner soon.

As I arrive in Putney and finished crossing the park, I have packed away my DSLR camera. I think it’s getting me tired and carrying the weight on my neck and I don’t think the photos I especially worth it compared to my iPhone so I decide to just try with the iPhone on the next day.

Wandworth and Putney

I reached Putney Bridge: day 1 of the Thames path is done!
I walked from the Thames Barrier to Putney Bridge in exactly 9 hours and 32 seconds. I had planned to cover 30.5 km as that’s the distance my guidebook said it was…but with all the construction work, the multiple detours meant I covered 37.91 km (23.56 miles).

Apart from the crowds from Borough Market to Westminster Bridge, I’ve really enjoyed the walk and I’ve been very lucky with the weather too. Once the fog lifted, it’s been sunny and warm all day.
Now to have a veggie pizza and a glass of Italian white wine in Putney before I head back to my hotel to rest for the next leg the next day.