Wednesday, 29 June 2011

The Thames Path

After 6 years of living in Tooting I thought I knew the Thames quite well.  I'd walked along the South Bank, the Peace Mile at Battersea Park and even along the river at Richmond (hint - London's best day-walk is Wimbledon Park to Richmond).

I always knew that the Thames 'came from somewhere' but was somewhat vague as to where that was.  It was only in the latter years of my time in London that I started exploring the more suburban stretches of the Thames.  I won't say the rural stretches of the Thames just in case a resident of Oxfordshire pipes up to to remind me that this blog post still describes a stretch well within the M25!

So on a sunny day in April we packed our day-packs and took an early train down to Hampton Court.  The plan was to walk at least as far as as Walton-on-Thames with a view that a late lunch would give us an opportunity to decide whether or not to push onto Staines.  A quick 30 minute journey from Clapham Junction and we were at the start - staring across the river at the impressive site of Hampton Court Palace.

The Thames at East Molesey

The Thames at Hampton Ferry

Walking down this section of the Thames it is easy to forget that you only a short hop from Zone 6.  It would be possible to forget you are near Heathrow if it wasn't for the planes flying overhead - still its surprisingly peaceful to walk along this stretch of the river.

A lovely lunch stop was the Anglers at Walton-on-Thames which is right on the towpath.  I would go into what I had to eat but I cannot remember and have no photos.  Suffice it to say that food is of the gastro-persuasion and clientele of the Yummy-Mummy/little Freddie and Francesca  brigade - nice food and beer choice though with a fantastic view of the Thames in both directions from the top floor.

Swans at Walton-on-Thames

D'Oyly Carte Island

A nice lunch and walk along the rest of the towpath to Weybridge left us waiting for the Shepperton ferry to continue the rest of the walk

Shepperton Ferry Landing

At this point interested readers should pickup the descriptions from the excellent The Thames Path website.  I remember the section after Shepperton being even more interesting (lots of very imposing houses with private moorings, the water meadows at Chertsey) however my photos do not reflect this!

As for Staines...well what can I say?  The riverside is actually quite nice but to be honest we were pretty tired by this point and caught the first train back to Clapham Junction.

UPDATE:  subwarrier on made me aware of a free CD/mp3 audio guide offered by Elmbridge council about the history of some of this stretch of the river.


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