A ferry service has operated here for around 500 years, albeit with a gap from the 1960s. It runs every 15 minutes, costs £2.50 single, and it only takes a few seconds.1
The Thames Path returns to dry land, and then follows one or other bank of the river for almost all of its route to Windsor.
It was a gloriously sunny May bank holiday Monday, and a lot of people were out on the river…
…or buying ice cream ashore.
There were lots of boats on the river, some with silly names.
Boats crusing along the river.
Dumsey Meadow is a Site of Special Scientific Interest and apparently the only undeveloped water meadow on the Thames downstream from Caversham.
Next comes Chertsey Bridge.
1783-85. Architect James Paine. The least altered of his Thames bridges. Five principal segmental arches centre widest, with flanking single flood arches in slight breaks. Drip over arches. Coursed and dressed rubble with band at base of ashlar parapet, cornice above. Cast-iron panels in parapet over spandrels and breakwaters (pointed in plan with round tops at springing of arches). Numerous tie rods. 1930s lamps.2
A brief stop at the Kingfisher pub, then onwards to the somewhat less pretty M3 motorway bridge.
Boatyards always seem a lot more picturesque than other types of industrial sites.
A – well, what is it? – with the City of London arms.
A typical view along this stretch of the Thames.
Old boats often seem prettier than newer ones.
The lock keeper’s house at Penton Hook Lock.
Boats using sail power.
Plane, train and boats at Staines. Or Staines-upon-Thames as it now is. No-one mention Ali G.
The Swanmaster statue, by Diana Thomson. Unveiled by the Mayor of Spelthorne on 4 November 2014.3
A replica of the London Stone which once marked the limits of the City of London’s rights on the river. The original is now in the Spelthorne Museum.
The Thames Path crosses the river, and at the other end of the bridge there is another coal tax post, this time a type 2* with a correction plate
Passing under the M25 orbital motorway at Runnymede Bridge; the path finally leaves everything which might in some very informal sense be seen as “London”.
“…the memorable Charta, known as Magna Charter on account of the Latin Magna (great) and Charter (a Charter); this was the first of the famous Chartas and Gartas of the Realm and was invented by the Barons on a desert island and in the Thames called Ganymede”, as the book 1066 & All That put it.4
“Magna Charter was therefore the chief cause of Democracy in England, and thus a Good Thing for everyone (except the Common People)”.
That’s good to know.
Mind the gap.
Albert Bridge, I wonder what the next bridge will be called?
The Thames Path diverts away from the river briefly at Datchet.
And Windsor is reached. Had the Normans known where Heathrow airport was going to be, they might have rethought the location of the castle.
A walk along the Thames Path from Hampton Court to Weybridge, on 31 March 2018.
The Thames Path leaves Greater London at Hampton Court bridge, and river crossings are now further apart than before. This was the first genuinely new section of the path for me, as I hadn’t walked any of today’s route before. Here be dragons?
Today was a bit damp, with light rain following on from heavy rain yesterday. The river was pretty high, and suprisingly fast-flowing. Which would become a bit of a problem later…
I’ve been surprised at just how many rowers I’ve seen from the tow path.
There are some distinctive houseboats on this stretch of the Thames, perhaps more floating houses than boats made into houses.
A rowing sculpture near another boat house.
The Hampton Ferry doesn’t run at this time of year, not that it would be much use for following the Thames Path if it did.
Boats for sale. This could have come in handy later…
There is no risk of getting lost today – simply follow the river bank.
Walton Bridge hasa complicated history, being the sixth bridge here since the first was built in 1750.
D’Oyly Carte Island.
Quite an ambitious set of directions; turn left for Stranraer and Galway, or right for Nice.
FERRY NOT RUNNING TODAY DUE TO RIVER BEING IN FLOOD!!
Admittedly the river clearly was very flast flowing, although there were some boats out. Time to sit down on the nearby bench, eat my sandwiches and study the map to decide what to do next.
The only option is to return the same way I came as far back as Walton Bridge, cross the river there, and then take the Thames Path alternative route along roads to rejoin the main path. But that is quite a long walk to end up only a short distance in a straight line from here. And it looks like it might rain again. And only a mile or so away there is a station with fast trains back to London. What to do?
Aha, just around the corner is the answer to that question. The section of the path Staines will have to wait for another – drier – day.
Unlike Richmond, Kingston isn’t really a river-focused kind of place.
The Thames Path crosses the river at Kingston to follow the north bank (only) for the first time. Until now it had been on the south or both banks. As a result, this is probably the only point on today’s route where it would be possible to take a wrong turning.
I had imagined that the section from Kingston to Hampton Court would have views of Hampton Court Palace, but you just see the wall and then fence…
This section of the Thames Path path follows the river bank all the way, with no diversions around blocks of flats, building sites or gravel handling facilities.
There is the option to follow either either bank of the river, but the general consensus in the guide books seemed to be that the south side is the better choice, so that is the one I went for. It is also not insignficantly shorter, thanks both to the curvature of the river and following the bank more closely.
There is little risk of geting lost on this section of the Thames Path, even without signposting.