Thames Path – Woolwich ferry to Tower Bridge

Woolwich Ferry
Woolwich Ferry

I mentioned in a previous post I am attempting to walk the length of the Thames. Finding I had the day free on Saturday I planned another stretch. I thought I would start at the beginning which I had decided would be the Thames barrage, but when I looked at the map I changed my mind as I had never been on the Woolwich ferry, so I would start there.

The weather threatened rain after 12:00 so I would need an early start to avoid it. I woke up at 07:25, not ideal, had coffee and toast, and left with just enough time to catch the 08:11 from Berkhamsted. It was a fast train, so I did not want to miss it, the lights and everything were with me this morning, and my coffee for the train was handed to me as the rain pulled into the station. The weather was bright and clear with grey sky made of high altitude clouds.

Thames Barrier
Thames Barrier

At Euston I got the Northern line to Bank, but not before selecting the wrong southbound platform. At Bank I jumped on the DLR to King George V station where I would start walking.

The Woolwich ferry is not far from the station, although foot passengers are allowed the route on foot is not sign posted, so I just followed the cars. The ferry which is the only free boat trip in London, was on the other side loading, but soon did the crossing to my side. One foot passenger got off with a dozen cars and an artic. I was the only foot passenger to get on with a dozen cars. There were a lot of seats and space below the top car deck, for foot passengers. I found some step leading to the car deck where I could get a view of the Thames.

The Thames Path leaves the river for about half a mile and joins it again at the Thames barrier where ironically the official start of the Thames walk starts. According to the map on the wall it is 180 miles to the source which would therefore take me 18 sections to do if I made sure I did at least 10 miles each time I did a walk. I was glad I did the ferry in any case.

Dockland Skyline
Dockland Skyline

The first section was mainly housing then it became very industrial with sand and gravel dispensing areas. Then fancy apartments followed by the O2, then back to building sites before hitting the edge of Greenwich where I stopped at the Cutty Sark pub for a coffee and a packet of crisps, I was at mile 6.

At Greenwich I used the foot tunnel just because I could, it would put me on the side of the Thames I had not walked for a while. It is hard to keep to the rivers edge on the north bank as some property fronts are private so you end up tacking in and out of alleyways. I’ve noticed that with all the developments going on often a pub on a street corner is left intact, often looking out of place next to modern buildings or vacant lots.

I could see the predicted rain coming by the mist that had enveloped the distant views, so rather than stopping I cracked on, eventually getting sight of Tower Bridge my destination. I stopped taking off in St Katherine’s dock and had a bowl of delicious courgette soup and a coffee. I took my time as my feet needed a rest, and I wanted to update this blog post as the memories were still fresh.

Canary Wharf abstract
Canary Wharf abstract

I got on the tube at Tower hill where confusing signs sent you round the houses to the station entrance. I waited ages for a circle line train, then at Liverpool Street they announced issues on the line, then they went as far as Farringdon when they recommended getting the bus. The 63 was due in 20 minutes and I just wanted to get home so I walked down the road and splashed out on a cab for a swift delivery to Euston; £12.50. Things were against me at Euston two I missed a train which left as I arrived, then the next one was cancelled, still I only had a 20 minute wait for a fast train and had time to grab a paper and a coffee.

I grabbed some dinner on the way home from Tring Tesco, and Helen and I settled i n for an evening watching Finale of Deutschland 83 and a couple of madmen season one repeats.

Thames Path – Teddington Lock to Mortlake

RNLI Boat on the Thames near Kew
RNLI Boat on the Thames near Kew

At loose end I couldn’t figure out what to do this Saturday the weather was absolutely lousy in Aylesbury. When I look at the BBC website I noticed that the middle of the day so I have to plan to walk some of the Thames Path.

The plan was to drive into London and park at ham House the National Trust property then walk down to Teddington by the Lough get the train to Mortlake and then walk back along the Thames Path. By the time I got to ham House the rain stopped, at 11 degrees it wasn’t exactly exactly warm. It took 40 minutes to walk to the station at Teddington, the ticket to Mortlake was £4.20.

Twickenham Bridge with Richmond Railway bridge in the back ground
Twickenham Bridge with Richmond Railway bridge in the back ground

I got a FitBit for Christmas and it has encouraged me to walk more, so much so that I like to do a 10 Mike walk every weekend. So far I have been pretty successful 4 out of 5 weekends I have done more than 10. Last weekend we were away but I still managed an 8, and one of the weekends I did a 15 miler, which was probably a bit too far, but something to work up to.

On the way to the station I passed the Laboratory of the Government Chemist, I wonder what goes on there? A train came within 10 minutes which was handy, the journey would be a smidge over 20 minutes. The first stop was strawberry hill somewhere I gave never been. Next stop Twickenham, there was no match today, even though the Six Nations starts today, I checked before I set out as I did nothing t want to get stuck in traffic for a match. I could see lots of terraced houses from the train nearly all of them had skylights so as to maximise the expensive properties in this part of London.

The river with easy to find from Mortlake station just follow the streets to go downhill. Passed a brewery on the way now owned by Budweiser I did and acute bridge and then joined the Thames Path for some time it’s a very hard surface with no mud. I had chosen the right side of the river on the other side side properties with Gardens extending right down to the riverbank full stop that meant that the footpath went in land.

Richmond Bridge over the Thames
Richmond Bridge over the Thames

Illegal to eat keyboard I heard and saw a lot more ringneck parakeets than I had thus far on the walk. At the bend in the River Thames became rather choppy and I could see white horses on the River. From the Kew side of the river you get a great view of Syon House and the remains of an abbey. There was a handy bench so I rated for five. Tween the thames path and Q Gardens there is a waterfield haha a 1.0 possible to beat like a portcullis didn’t like it had been put down for some time. Just passed Kew Gardens is the Surrey golf club, then on the right an island called Isleworth Alt. At Richmond lock I crossed the very ornate footbridge, then headed into Richmond in search of coffee.

I settled on a place called Topshop Cafe on the high Street, a strange place. It appeared to be a long established place run by middle Eastern people, judging by the food on the menu. There were hanging plants all around, with that succulent green grass like plant in. In a corner three menu had a large Gaggia coffeeake in pieces and seemed to be discuss how to fix it. My American was strong and bitter typical of middle Eastern preference for the beverage.

I was 7 miles in to the walk but less than three remained, but I had a plan. I would continue on the path, and all pas the ferry to Ham House to take a look a bit further on where I could see a museum marked close to Eel Pie island, which I might also take a look at. I was tired by the time I got to the ferry, but alas it did not seen to be running despite what Wikipedia said as well as the signs on the jetty. There was a light on but no one seemed to be there. I waited five minutes and there was still no sign of life so I decided that i the best bet would be to double back to the bridge at Richmond where I found a cafe under the bridge in an archway. The coffee was better than the last place and the apple cake divine. Whilst day in cafe I took a closer look at a dog tag I had found on the path,it had a mobile number on it so I texted the the number to tell them and offer to post back. I got this polite reply; “Thank you so much. Yes, that’s our Sam. He was out for a run there this morning. Don’t worry about returning, I can easily get a new one – it will probably cost more for the postage! Many thanks anyway.”

I had sore feet for the final mile back to the car and the seats were a welcome relief. I had walked at least12 miles, a good walk. I missed the M4/M25 turn off and had to double back, a theme is emerging! I stopped off a Tesco for dinner and picked Helen up. We were home for the rugby England v Scotland in Murrayfield.

Emelina the luxury motor yacht

Luxury yacht Emilina moored on the Thames London
Luxury yacht Emilina moored on the Thames London

When I was in London the other day I took a picture of a large motor yacht or Gin Palace as they are sometimes called. Emelina was moored the seaward side of Tower bridge, when I got home I decided to do some investigating to see if I could find out a bit more. It turned out to be very easy possibly because of the unusual name, and the fact that it was a big yacht.

Emelina is 51 m (167 foot) long and was created by Codecasa boat builders in 2008, it can sleep up to 12 passengers, thats about 3 times the number of people I can comfortably sleep in my house. As well as the 12 passengers there is apparently accommodation for a crew of 10. The twin Catterpillar engines produce and impressive 9788hp and can help the yacht reach speeds of 17.5 kts. I guess this is probably not possible when full oaded with fuel (8o,000 litres) and water (20,000 litres). The fuel can possible allow for a range of 4,000 nm.

A few other facts about the yacht are : it has a Jacuzzi Spa but no helicopter landing pad, the interior was designed by Studio Dellarole and the hull is made of aluminium.

Google also also popped up a link to a site that allows you to see the location of lots of boats including Emelina you can see her current location at the Marine Traffic website (click on the “Show live map button”). When I looked on Sunday she was in Dagenham but now she is moored in Amsterdam.

I did a panorama photo from the riverside which is now on Google maps.

The Brunel tunnel

Isambard Kingdom Brunel Rotherhithe Tunnel under the Thames London
Isambard Kingdom Brunel Rotherhithe Tunnel under the Thames London

Ian Visits came up trumps again the Brunel Tunnel under the Thames is open for the weekend due to a line upgrade to convert from four to five carriages per train. I got in quick and managed to get myself a ticket before that sold out less than an hour later.

I was up early and managed to get the 08:46 to London Euston from Berkhamsted, which unusually had no free seats. On arrival I used Google maps to find out how to get to the Brunel Museum at Rotherhithe. You may not be aware but Google recently announced it had all the public transport times so when you ask for directions not only does it know which trains and buses to use it knows when the next one is. This is a great improvement on trying to read the bus maps that have no road names and then work out the coded bus stop you need to be at.  It suggested Victoria line then Jubilee but I fancied the bus so set the options for buses only. 68 then change at Waterloo bridge to the 381. The 68 arrived as I got to the bus stop.

Wapping Tube Station
Wapping Tube Station

It was still raining when I got off the bus at Waterloo bridge but there was some sun to the south in the distance which was good because I was lugging three cameras with me. The 381 took me past the Kirkcaldy museum of material testing which I had visited a few weeks before. The bus passed through some interesting areas where you could see that there had in the past been companies that manufactured goods. For example I saw a building with a painted sign for a company that made tin boxes. Further on there is evidence of shipping with old warehouses, pubs with nautical names (The Shipwrights) and even the London nautical school. By the time I got off the bus the sun was out.

Once alighted I followed the signs to the Brunel Museum and the staff there directed me to Rotherhithe station which was the correct place to congregate. I was early but they let me join the queue, but not before I stocked up on batteries for my flash. I would have to wait for the allotted time but thanks to my trusty insulated foam sheet was able to sit down while I waited, all the time the sky got bluer and the clouds more fluffy and white.

Thames Vista HDR
Thames Vista HDR

The 1100 tickets were called and we were guided into the closed station, and given blue surgical gloves to put on, then told to gather at the top of the escalators then we were taken down the steps to the platform of the station. First we had to have the obligatory Health and Safety briefing which explained why we had to wear gloves, dirt and weil’s disease so don’t touch stuff and then suck your thumb. We then stepped down on to the track and were led into the tunnel, our guides explained some of the history and features of the tunnel when we stopped every 30 metres. Eventually we came to the next station Wapping where we crossed over and went back up the other side to where we started. Then we left the station via the escalators not forgetting to throw the gloves away and disinfect our now sweaty palms.

As the weather was bright I decided a walk along the Thames path would be nice and provide plenty of photo opps . I followed Jubilee walk which keeps you as close to the river as is possible and you get to see some interesting buildings, most of them dock related so lots of converted warehouses with cranes sticking out of them. Just as it looked like the next shower was due I came across the Design Museum and popped into the cafe for a sandwich and coffee it was pretty average and cost £8.50!

Tower Bridge over the Thames London
Tower Bridge over the Thames London

Tower bridge was nearby so I carried on and crossed the bridge and attempted a panorama set at the mid point. On the other side was St Catherine’s dock always a good place to take photos so had a wander around. There are old buildings, boats and bridges. From there I headed towards the tower of London, then consulted Google maps for an escape route. At the no. 15 bus stop I got chatting to a fellow photographer who had a spirit level bubble in his hot shoe. I have one but it is a sharp cube that stands proud he had one that was more or less flush. He said he got it from Amazon and with the power of the internet so did I got just £1.99 a bargain.

I alighted at Aldwych and walked over the road and jumped on the 68 to Euston. It was pouring down at Euston and I had 10 minutes to spare before the 14:54 to Northampton . I grabbed a coffee and a paper then headed home to process my photos.

Busy weekend

Stag and deer
Stag and deer

Helen was away at the weekend and I am off to Belfast this morning so you will be treated to a blog post of my busy weekend. I dropped Helen off at the train station of Friday evening then settled in for an evening in front of the TV, followed by going to bed early, as I had plans.

I was up at a reasonable time grabbed some breakfast and a strong coffee and headed out to the woods at Ashridge, the rut had started so I might be able to get some pictures. The weather was perfect for photography a clear atmosphere and a few whit fluffy clouds against a deep blue sky. I parked up in a car park which is close to a large open field where the stags tend to congregate and do their strutting about.

Walking through the woods I spotted the odd deer and a couple of stags, but they are hard to get pictures of in the shaded woods. 100th of a second at ISO 800 is about all you can hope for, still the new 40D I’d slightly better at high ISO’s than the old 20D. I did a circuit of the field and took a few landscape shots of the trees which were just starting to turn autumnal. The deer were gathering but there was not a lot of action, and I had other things planned.

Thames view around Little Wittenham
Thames view around Little Wittenham

On the way back through Tring I called in at R’s but I got know answer, so I went home and had some lunch then headed over to Wendover for a haircut, which was more eventful than usual when the guy having his haircut in the chair next to me had his ear snipped with the scissors. He got a free haircut and I thanked my luck stars I was not their 5minutes earlier is I might have been in that seat. I grabbed a paper and went home.

I gave R another call and got hold of him, and popped round for a coffee, it was good to catch up. Then I was back to the woods to have another crack at the rut. I was not disappointed. Two stags were on the rise in the field and occasionally challenges came from the edge of the field, which drew the stags down closer to where I had positioned myself and within lens shot. At one point I saw charging and crashes as their antlers clashed. I left at about 17:30 clearly sunset is the best time of day.

I grabbed an M&S curry on the way through Tring then went home to watch Hard Candy on Netflix, which although got good reviews was rubbish, I lasted 30 minutes in. Again I had a fairly early night as I was going to give the deers another chance in the morning. There was not much action in the morning at 08:30, but it was nice to be out in the woods when it is quiet, on such a nice morning. Next it was back to the house to make Tumbet for a quick Sunday evening meal, you can make it ready to put in the oven for later. This time I used new potatoes which I boiled and skinned red peppers for a jar, which made it easier to prepare and tasted great.

Ewelme view
Ewelme view

I was due to pick Helen up at 1600 from Didcot so as the weather was again great I headed out early to Little Wittenham to get some pictures around the river Thames. I grabbed my 10-22mm lens and polarising filter, it was to be one of those days. Over and around Little Wittenham there is some thing called Earth Trust, which I must find out some more about, it looks like they have been planting trees and putting up walks and generally doing stuff for nature conservation.

Helen’s train was on time and the Tumbet was great we watched the film Tyranosaur, which although very hard hitting was very well made, a great story and well acted. That’s what I call making the most of a weekend.