Having just completed a vacation-till-you-drop tour of the Caribbean and Bahamas – up early every morning, late to bed every night, daily flights between the islands, sore index finger from all the snapping – it was time for a complete change: of continent. But the island theme, arguably, continued, for we were headed to London, capital of the UK – another island nation.
I find myself in the British capital frequently – our European HQ is here, so there’s always plenty of business needs seeing to. And seeing as though I’m here often, and have been known to enjoy a lengthy, brisk stroll if I can fit one into my working schedule, I decided a few years back to walk different sections of the Thames Path at different times, whenever I can. You can’t do the whole Path in one go as it’s just too long – nearly 300km! Well, I’d done four sections to date, with the last one taking me as far as Richmond Lock. Now, it was time for the fifth installment…
So, setting off from above-mentioned lock, the first things we come to are two bridges:
Conveniently, practically all bridges along the route have paths or tunnels going under them beside the river, meaning you don’t have to climb up from the Thames to get past them.
We were heading west – from the direction of the estuary toward the river’s source. Curiously – to a Muscovite – we were just 15km from the center of London, but it sure didn’t feel like we were still in a large, sprawling capital: lots of grass and trees, large houses, and relative quiet. And not just small sailing boats docked along the banks of the Thames here, but larger vessels too – like this one:
Next up: Richmond bridge, whose construction was completed in… 1777! They don’t make ’em how they used to ).
Er, quick rewind…
Where exactly is Richmond, and how did we get here?
Ok, here’s a map. The red ring to the right is where we initially set off several years ago – near where the Thames [Flood] Barrier is. That’s where the Thames Path starts (or ends, depending which way you’re headed). The red arrows show the different legs of the Thames Path my legs and the legs of my different travel companions have completed at different times. The red circle to the left is where we are now – at Richmond Lock – heading further west actually now south…
We were last here early May, but it felt like a summer’s day – in Lisbon, not London. Folks lounging about along the riverbank, paddle boats toing and froing, much ice cream being consumed, and an overall aura of cozy contentment.
And remember, these idyllic scenes are all in London! And you thought it’d be nothing but Big Ben, bustle, black taxis, double-decker buses, Buckingham Palace, Beefeaters and Meghans?!
Meanwhile, the Thames Path continues to wind its way south…
Onward we march; sunseekers still swarming and warming themselves all along the riverbanks:
Looking one way – not the most well-groomed scene…
A glance the other way: neat, tidy and well-to-do rich Richmond:
Next – another lock. Can’t recall its name, and I can’t look it up as I’m writing this half-way up a mountain where the Wi-Fi’s not up to much. Ah – a few hours later, back at the hotel, I just had to look it up: Teddington Lock. Woah – 208 years old!
Check this out: the sign says ‘kilometres per hour’ not ‘miles per hour’. Why? Did, say, the French or the Dutch build this dock? I wonder….
The Path suddenly goes all urban, hugging a road. And we were just getting used to the countryside surroundings.
Thankfully the path soon dived back into the lush greenery of a park, as we approached Kingston upon Thames.
Around here we made the mistake of not paying attention to keeping to the Path – distracted as we were by these here friendly swans:
In short – we took a wrong turning, and ended up in some dreary built-up urban area. We kept trying to get back to the Path, but kept coming to dead-ends. Grrr.
Or could it have been that we were on the Thames Path, but it sure didn’t look like it? Hmmm. Not sure…
Still, we quickly put our route-confusion behind us when we came upon… this:
Ahhhh. A pint of Guinness and a quick bite and we were right as rain :).
Still, note: if ever doing the Thames Path (going westward), cross the first bridge in Kingston to get over to the other side of the the river. Don’t head straight on. Otherwise you have to tolerate this:
The River Thames, folks:
Joke. That’s the Ember. The Thames looks like this:
So, it looks like we missed out a stretch of the Thames Path due to our getting lost. I mean… how can any adult – experienced walker-tourists at that! – get lost on a clearly, extensively signposted tourist path?!!
We’ll have to re-do Kingston to Hampton Court another time. Grrrr. Yeh!
That’s all for today folks. But I’ll be back – from South Yorkshire! – tomorrow…