Stage Fourteen of Thames Walk
This is the penultimate walk and I would like to say a big thank you to the two lovely volunteers who scouted out the best route. We had been warned that parts of London along the river were under heavy reconstruction and there were diversions all over the place. So, starting at Putney Bridge, one attempted the south bank and the other the north bank.
Given the walking mileage to be considered, and the desire to get to the interesting bits as soon as possible, we settled upon a walk that satisfied both the interesting bits without too much of the builder’s redirections. The walk ended up at just under 8 miles. Given the route and so much to see along with the ability to plan in lots of park bench stops, lunch and the very handy supply of public toilets along the route it became more a fun day out than exercise, as some of our much longer marches were –but variety is a good thing.
I decided I would attempt the walk as well, because we were not sure if we could usefully manage the support vehicle navigating around London. The area is well covered by tube stations, so we parked the cars at Putney and planned to come back by tube from Tower Bridge.
The first section was away from the river, but everyone was happy with that because there was not much happening long this stretch of the river and the pace was quite brisk. Luckily, there was a well-placed bench just by a view of a football stadium at the end of a street.
As the route turned back to the river, we were rewarded with the sight of one of the many iconic London bridges and three red busses going over it. It doesn’t get any more London than that.
The walk along the north bank was really lovely and we reached the park just besides Westminster in time for a picnic lunch. We sat eating our lunch under the trees, on raised benches, overlooking the river.
From here we had a choice: the north bank which is quieter and affords you views across the river at most of the exciting things and takes you pass the Tower of London but it is a much longer walk. Or the South bank, which is shorter but very busy because lots of people are trying to access the interesting bits, like the London eye. On this occasion, we chose the South Bank.
Because of the great work of the two volunteers I knew that the South Bank had a very exciting street food market. Eating a healthy lunch before we crossed the bridge and then encountering it made us successfully navigate the unhealthy food without stopping to buy.
At one point, because of the volume crowds, two of us did become temporarily separated. Very sensibly they stuck together and found a map with ‘you are here’ on it and sent the image to us and we were able to find them within minutes.
I have to say I was really pleased to see Tower Bridge at the end. While I opted for the shorter route because of my knee, this year. Personally, next year I might prefer the north bank. Navigating those crowds was not my thing - although I know the rest of you loved it.
So, we have reached the final walk which will be from Tower Bridge and the Thames Barrier where the Thames Path, which we have been following, come to an end. Now two things have come up about this final walk, and that is because you all now know how to read a map. First, it’s not the end of the river, it is only the end of the Thames Path walking route and secondly the mouth is actually some distance along the way. The question has now risen - what do we want to do about that?