Putney to Richmond - January 19th
The first 4 miles of this walk follow the route of the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race from the start at Putney Bridge, passing under Hammersmith Bridge and Barnes Bridge, to the finish at Chiswick Bridge. From Chiswick Bridge the path continues to Kew, Old Deer Park, Richmond Lock and finishes at Richmond Bridge.
This section is meant to be about 8 miles. Most of this section is along the original Thames towpath.
After a two week break, I embarked on the next walk of my challenge. It was a cold, clear, sunny winter's morning, ideal for a walk along the Thames. Getting to the start was easy from Kings Cross - Victoria Line to Vauxhall then train to Putney. I crossed Putney Bridge to the south bank and resumed my walk from where I'd left off a couple of weeks earlier.
Almost immediately I passed a number of rowing clubs' boathouses. A little further on, Fulham Football Club's Craven Cottage ground could be seen on the north bank, with a lot of construction work going on. The Riverside Stand has been demolished and a new one is being built to increase seating capacity and improve amenities in general for fans.
The next building of interest was the former Harrods Furniture Depository. This was a depository for large items of furniture waiting for shipment to clients, or to the Harrods store itself in Knightsbridge via its own Thames-side landing stage. This is now a Grade II listed building, no longer owned by Harrods and has been converted into an apartment block that forms part of a larger development named Harrods Village.
The next bridge I came to was Hammersmith Bridge. At the time of my walk, this bridge had been closed to vehicles due to serious structural cracks that had been found. Walkers and cyclists were still able to use it whilst repair works were carried out. However, I now understand that the heatwaves London had this year have made the cracks worse. Whilst engineers assess the recent damage, the bridge is now completely closed and this includes river traffic wishing to pass under the bridge.
From Hammersmith Bridge the towpath hugged the river as it turned a long bend heading towards Barnes. Barnes Bridge is a striking structure being a combined rail and pedestrian bridge which is now Grade II listed. In my opinion it’s not a particularly beautiful bridge!
After Barnes, the river curved again and the path carried on alongside the river before reaching Chiswick Bridge, the finishing point of the University Boat Race (actually, the finish line is marked by a stone on the Thames Path, 370 feet before the bridge!). After Chiswick Bridge, the path continued once again right by the side of the river, passing under Kew Railway Bridge before reaching Kew Bridge, another Grade II listed structure.
As the river curved again, Kew Gardens came into view. Kew Gardens cover an area of 300 acres and for at least one mile, the path runs alongside. The path doesn’t enable you to get in for free but you get good views of Kew Palace, which is one of the six Historic Royal Palaces. Opposite Kew Gardens on the north bank, Syon House came into view. Syon House and its 200 acre park, Syon Park, belong to the Duke of Northumberland. The house and gardens would normally be open to the public on certain dates in the summer.
Once again, after Kew the river took another curve on its way towards Richmond. In quick succession a number of river crossings came up. Firstly, Richmond Lock and Footbridge – the first upstream lock of the Thames. After that came Twickenham Bridge, Richmond Railway Bridge and finally Richmond Bridge, which is where I ended my walk. As the photos show, Richmond was really busy with people out enjoying the winter sunshine.
This was a really enjoyable walk with plenty to see along the route.