Thames Walk - Pimlico to Putney and Putney to Richmond
The end is nigh...
The last weekend in September and the first in October saw the anti-penultimate and penultimate legs of the Thames path upstream walk from Slade Green, near Dartford, all the way eventually up to Richmond.
The first of these two legs, on 21st September and between Pimlico and Putney Bridge, had a record turnout of eighteen walkers, including Ros from up near Blackpool, who has been visiting us for a while. A perfect day for a walk, sunny but breezy, not too hot and a not too long a walk to boot. Starting on the north bank to avoid the chaos of building work that is Nine Elms, we crossed the river at Chelsea Bridge, stopping first to admire the handiwork of Joseph Bazalgette and another of those lovely Victorian sewage works buildings that dot the riverside. Opposite the park one of London's lost rivers - the Westbourne, which we had walked in November 2013 (here) - makes its appearances, still gamely clinging on to its existence, as does the Lots Road Power station building, also on the north bank. This power station used to supply all of the power to the London Underground, but has long since been decommissioned and is now, as is the way, being made into luxury apartments that no one can afford. Battersea Park provided us with a comfort stop before we swung inland for a brief detour around the heliport and another huge building being squeezed into a tiny site, and then onwards to Wandsworth Park for a lunch break by the mini golf course. After that it was a short stroll up to Putney Bridge to admire the World War Two machine gun post built almost onto the platforms - part of the defence line of London, protecting the railway from any attack from the river.
Returning to this very same spot the following Saturday, on 1st October, the weather was quite different. We're we deterred? - well a few people must have been as we were reduced to a coven of thirteen and suffered a bit of a delayed start caused by engineering works and the glacial service in a cafe. Shortly after setting off along the south bank we crossed another of London's little-known rivers - the Beverley Brook. Although looking a bit decrepit as it met the Thames, at least this one does have a guided walk attached, which perhaps we should try one day. Usually this stretch is a straight line up the south bank, but again we were foiled, this time by work taking place on the riverbank at Hammersmith. Not to be outdone though, we simply crossed the river and carried on through some very charming houses on the other side. At this point nature struck a double blow, it started to rain and one of the group took it into his head to wander off in search of a wee, and then promptly got lost.
We decided on an early lunch break to dry off, and crossed the river back to the south side on Barnes Railway bridge to recuperate at the White Hart (another pub with some really excellent and attractive bathrooms) whilst directing the lost sheep back into the fold by means of several plaintive telephone calls.
Moving to the north bank had added extra mileage to the route, so it was decided at this point to cut short the journey and only go as far as Kew, but the sun came out and something in the water clearly boosted morale as we positively sped along the next section, past the old Truman brewery, still in operation by by a different company, and the Harrods Depository and arrived at Kew in record time, so much so that we decided to be brave and finish the route properly. That last three miles shot by and then it was time for tea to celebrate in a delightful cafe built into one of the arches under Richmond Bridge.
One more leg to go voyagers!
Sue C., 17th October 2016
Photos by Peter G.