Thames Path Walk – Tower Bridge to Putney Bridge to Richmond Bridge

 We rejoined the path at the Tower Bridge

We rejoined the path at the Tower Bridge

Tower Bridge to Putney Bridge

It was an Ibuprofen night (with a chaser of wine) and we were ready to hit the path again this morning. Our goal today was Tower Bridge to Putney Bridge – 10 miles. We rejoined the path at the Tower Bridge. The day was cool and overcast, but no rain and pretty perfect for walking.

We were a bit disappointed that the Elizabeth Tower housing Big Ben was under renovation and was hardly recognizable, but old things need repair once in awhile and I guess it was Ben’s turn.

  Elizabeth Tower  at the end of Westminster Bridge

Elizabeth Tower at the end of Westminster Bridge

There were lots of joggers, runners, walkers and cyclists on the path and we found ourselves constantly moving out of the way, dodging around people or being dodged by cyclists who rung their anemic little bike bells or meekly said ‘Sorry’ and expected immediate reaction from anyone in their way. We remained unscathed with a few close calls.

Bridges and iconic landmarks were the highlight today. Ornate bridges, decrepit bridges, old bridges, new bridges … bridges connecting the South Bank with the North Bank. Click on the thumbnail to enlarge the photo.

Iconic landmarks included the old and venerable like the Tower of London and Westminster Abbey, the remains of the Winchester Palace, Shakespeare’s Globe Theater, and even a full size reproduction of Sir Francis Drake’s Golden Hind. The new included the O2, the UK’s second largest sports and entertainment arena; the London Eye and the Shard.

I especially enjoyed the meeting of new and old at the Southwark Cathedral. A knight stood in the shadow of the Cathedral … a Knight Templar, maybe? The Shard, the UK’s highest building, poked it’s imposing spire high above the Cathedral … medieval overshadowed by modern.

I got caught up in the grandeur of common things as we walked along … the lamp posts, the park benches, even the litter bins radiate a certain elegance.

We were so caught up in our surroundings that we walked a mile past our hotel on Smuggler’s Way before we noticed we’d gone too far. We grudgingly backtracked the mile that we knew we’d walk again tomorrow, thankfully unloaded our packs at the hotel and headed to the Cat’s Back pub for an adult libation and late lunch/early dinner. While noshing at the pub, we happened to meet Ziggy and her master. She comes here quite frequently.

Mileage today: 12.25 miles

From Putney Bridge to Richmond Bridge

We’re getting more into the groove now. We slept through the whole night and awoke feeling much more rested than the previous couple of days. Our goal today was Putney Bridge to Richmond Bridge, about 9 miles on the Path … and who knows how much further for diversions.

We’ve found that leaving a bit later in the morning (8-9am) is to our benefit. By the time we’re ready for a morning break, many of the cafes and tea shops are open. Then lunchtime follows at a local pub … and there’s one wherever we seem to be. Then by the time we reach our hotel, it’s time for check-in. After our pub lunch, we’ve been more than satisfied with cheese, crackers, fruit and wine for dinner, purchased at a local grocery which is also easy to find … at least so far.

 The asphalt path has become a dirt and gravel towpath.

The asphalt path has become a dirt and gravel towpath.

We retraced our mile of already taken steps past Wandsworth Park before we entered new territory on the Path. We’re just 20 miles or so outside London, but it’s already beginning to feel less ‘big city’ and more rural. The path has changed from asphalt to an old towpath of dirt and gravel.

 A view of Syon House from our bench on the south bank of the river

A view of Syon House from our bench on the south bank of the river

We passed along the back of the Kew Gardens, one of the largest botanical gardens in the world, thinking it might be a grand place to visit at the end of our walk. We spotted a path bench for rest and were rewarded with an awesome view of Syon House, the spectacular home of the Duke of Northumberland, built in the 16th century on the site of the medieval Syon Abbey, just across the river.

 Our attention was quickly diverted when a fox suddenly popped out of the bush and trotted along the riverbank.

Our attention was quickly diverted when a fox suddenly popped out of the bush and trotted along the riverbank.

 Further on, the edge of Old Deer Park was a short stop on the path. Within the park, a crown estate, King George III established the  King’s Observatory  which was used to set the King’s time at the Houses of Parliament before Greenwich became the Prime Meridian in 1884. We peered through the slot and lined up the obelisk to view the meridian line … kind of.

Further on, the edge of Old Deer Park was a short stop on the path. Within the park, a crown estate, King George III established the King’s Observatory which was used to set the King’s time at the Houses of Parliament before Greenwich became the Prime Meridian in 1884. We peered through the slot and lined up the obelisk to view the meridian line … kind of.

 We enjoy taking a breather now and then … like taking a rest at Chiswick Bridge

We enjoy taking a breather now and then … like taking a rest at Chiswick Bridge

 Lots of things catch our eye … not always famous, not only landmarks, sometimes just lovely. like All Saint’s Church at Isleworth

Lots of things catch our eye … not always famous, not only landmarks, sometimes just lovely. like All Saint’s Church at Isleworth

 Lunch at the White Swan

Lunch at the White Swan

It was well past lunchtime when we saw a sign on the path for the White Swan. It was a delightful place, full to capacity with hungry, Sunday, after-church diners and their canines. We’ve never seen so many dogs in a restaurant as here and, like children, some well-behaved and some not so much.

We finished our lunch and after a short walk, we arrived at our hotel for the evening. The hotel was definitely not fancy, but it was clean and economical. Unfortunately, our room was on the 3rd floor with no ‘lift’ (i.e. elevator) and those final all-up steps were a killer. Once the packs were offloaded, life became easier. We strolled around Richmond and much to our surprise found a Whole Foods grocery for our dinner supplies AND nearby, a Barclays ATM. Dinner, wine and cash! Mileage today: 11.25 miles

Continue to walk along with us on our journey to Thames Head. We’ll be posting Thames Path blogs on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and of course, the Blue View on Saturdays.