National Trails Thames Path

Thames Path – London Bridge to Greenwich

IMG_2704The forecast wasn’t great – predicting heavy rain showers but we chanced it and took the train to London Bridge and set off on our second stretch of the Thames Path on our Easter weekend excursion.

With it being Easter Sunday the car park in Oxted was quiet and we started walking at around 10.30am, in patchy sunshine with a cooler wind that we were pleased to be waking with, rather than against.

In the city it was quieter than it had been yesterday, although there were loads of tourists about around the Tower and on the south bank.  The first stretch was very familiar to me, given it was my regular commute to the previous office and in no time we were across Tower Bridge and starting the unexplored section through St Katherine’s Dock and along the North bank of the Thames.

Wapping was fascinating, with its cobbled streets and famous old pubs, and it’s amazing how much development there has been along this stretch of the river. And plenty of money too, with one bedroom flats starting at £475k and rentals from £3k to £6k a month.

Signage was a bit sketchy at times and so we didn’t always take the prescribed route and sometimes found ourselves inland where there could have been more stretches along the river. That didn’t detract from the interest though and we had a fine walk, enjoying sweeping views along quite quiet stretches of the river. It was interesting to see Canary Wharf from this angle, and the Shard kept popping up in all directions reminding ourselves of the twists and turns the river makes.

IMG_2714We were heading for Greenwich and the tall ships on display and could see from the other bank how busy it would be in this beautiful old maritime world heritage site. We beat a party of about 50 Dutch visitors down the walking tunnel, taking the stairs both ends and scampering through to avoid any feelings of claustrophobia. Popping out in Greenwich slightly short of breath and feeling the distance and the steps in our legs, we fought through the crowds to the Wetherspoons pub where we cashed in my Camra discount ticket for a well deserved pint of Doom Bar and a meal, all of which together with a glass of wine  came to £19. Wow, no wonder it was a busy pub.

Mind you the whole of the town was busy and we looked into the market before deciding not to brave it and after wandering around looking at the exhibitions and the tall ships sailing past, we took the clipper service back to London Bridge and the train back home. One passenger was certainly the worse for wear as he was on the train to East Grinstead rather than the one he sought which was allegedly for Glasgow or alternatively Edinburgh and the feisty but firm lady conductor that was from those parts herself put him ashore at Norwood Junction.

Another lovely walk which we stayed dry for, determined to revisit the pubs on the north shore like the Captain Kidd and others on another day.

Only around 7.5 miles this time although it felt more in our weary legs and we were pleased to get home ahead of the rain which arrived late afternoon.

Happy Easter! IMG_2703

National Trails Thames Path

Thames Path – Albert Bridge to London Bridge

IMG_2697Easter weekend in London is traditionally a time for Heather and I to treat the great city like our away short break destination. And with dry weather forecast we decided to combine a visit with a chunk of the Thames Path.

So on Easter Saturday we took the train from Oxted to Battersea Park and set off from Albert Bridge along the north bank to Tower Bridge, and got as far as London Bridge. Well we did have a few detours including the Apple Store in Covent Garden, Fire and Stone for a pizza lunch, Somerset House for an exhibition on games, including bad chess and a pool table made even more difficult, and 2 Temple Place for an exhibition of Sussex modernist painters. Eric Gill of the typeface fame was particularly bizarre. IMG_2698

Apart from the cyclists that insisted on using the pavements instead of the cycle paths, the walk was brilliant. Some lovely sections along the river with great views into the Chelsea hospital, along the Houses of Parliament and the embankment were very memorable. Wow, London was crowded in places. My theory that many locals go away for the weekend leaving the city nice and quiet was shot out of the water. Tourists were visiting in huge numbers probably taking advantage of the lower pound.

IMG_2696We detoured again briefly to look at the office in St Bride lane and then discouraged from taking the wobbly bridge by the sheer numbers on it, continued along the north bank to London Bridge, deciding that the next stretch could wait until the following day.

We’d done about 10 miles in all, with a couple in Battersea Park and some detours, and about 6 miles of the Thames Path proper. A very enjoyable day out and back tomorrow weather permitting.