THE THAMES PATH – Day 18. The world and his dog.

Teddington to Wandsworth. 

As I looked out of my window I spotted a fox skulking through the hotel flower beds. The sun was already strong and it was going to be a beautiful day.

I gave the expensive breakfast a miss but strolled down through the hotel gardens to the river to watch the water gushing out of the weir. Apparently last week the water almost reached the dining room but today was a couple of feet lower.

Recrossing the bridge I became tangled up in the Park Run which used the towpath. This towpath is very muddy but is being upgraded, fortunately no work at the weekend, and further on has been resurfaced as a broad lane. Not particularly sympathetic to the surroundings but no doubt necessary due to the heavy use by foot and cycle. Even after the Park Runners had turned back there was a constant stream of walkers, joggers and cyclists – this was to continue for the rest of the day – we are definitely in London now.

The river curves round towards Richmond and The Star and Garter Home is prominent on the hill, once a luxurious hotel, latterly a care home but recently sold for apartment development.   The beautiful Palladian Marble Hill house was built for Henrietta Howard mistress of King George II when he was Prince of Wales, arcadian life for the royals in the 18th century.

Morning coffee was taken at The Tide Tables cafe under Richmond Bridge, just under £3 and only average but a pleasant place to sit under the plane trees next to the river. The cafe had a relaxed feel to it. Plane trees are common in London and I had already passed the tallest this morning.

Richmond Weir was constructed to form a barrage to keep the water high upriver, Sluice gates hang down from the footbridge to control the flow. There is an adjacent lock which is the last on the river which from now on is at the mercy of the tides.

I am now  beside Richmond Old Deer Park but don’t see much of it. More interesting is Syon House on the opposite bank the last ducal (Northumberland) residence in London.

Kew Gardens came alongside reminding me of regular visits when I was a student in London, must have been free entry or something.

The constant stream of humanity continued and by now the sunshine and warm weather was putting everyone in a good mood. Chiswick Bridge meant I was now following in reverse the loop of the 4mile and 374yd Boat Race course as far as Putney Bridge.  There did seem to be more rowing crews out on the water on this stretch.

At Mortlake the riverside pubs were packed so I ventured up a side street and found the ideal Orange Pekoe cafe for a salad lunch with a large pot of tea amongst friendly people.The impressive display of expensive cars passing by with unnecessary revving emphasises the apparent affluence of the area.

More leafy path and I was under the impressive metal Hammersmith Bridge and Putney Bridge was soon seen round the next curve. The bridges over the Thames become markers on the walk as you pass from one to the next, Each one unique and becoming more iconic as I continue, I could write a blog on the bridges alone.

Hammersmith Bridge.

Craven Cottage football ground on the far bank was hosting a derby match later in the day and nearby was Fulham Palace, home to the Bishops of London from the 11th century until 1973, where are they now?

Following the crowds I was soon in Putney popular with oarsmen, several college boathouses lining the road with lots of activity. Crews who had been training on the river were coming ashore. Some had taken an earlier exit.

The crowds increased and sound levels rocketed dramatically around the pubs. The heavy police presence informed me of the local derby match between Fulham and Brentford this evening. I didn’t linger. There was a small park and then a maze of modern apartments to Wandsworth. The nondescript bridge here was erected in 1940 and painted blue as camouflage against air raids, it still is. As I’d a hotel booked in Putney I caught the train back when things had quietened down.,





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