Thames path 2 – Day 13 Westminster to Thames Barrier

Another early start for what would be the last official leg of this year’s Thames path walk, although I have plans to venture all the way to the sea sometime before the year is out. The 0601 was running a minute late, it is great that these days you get updates on the station signs for such small delays.

I was on the path by 0700 pretty good time I think. I chose the Southbank because it is more interesting. To start with any how, later on I spent a lot of time having to leave the river’s edge because an apartment block was in the way. It meant I walked a bit further than the map suggested.

I dropped in at Borough market but they were still setting up and not coffee was available. It was not until Greenwich was I able to get a coffee, and a very nice mushroom and halloumi sausage roll at Peyton and Byrne.

I came up with a plan to do some of the north bank, by using the Grenwich foot tunnel, then getting the Dangleway (Emirates Airway) close to the barrier. It meant soing the outside of a large curve, and I found out that the path was not always by the riverside, and spent quite some time walking inland, then back again. Eventually I realised I was at a deadend, with a long walk round, so I got on the DLR at East India and then gor off at Victoria.

When I got off it was clear something was going on there were police everywhere. I stopped and asked one of them what was going on. Apparently there was an Arms exhibition at Excel and there had been deomnstrations earlier in the week. hey were there to keep the peace. I suspect there was facial recognition CCTV about too, a couple of vans with cameras on poles gave the game away.

There was no queue for the Dangleway, and I had a chat with the friendly guy who was ushering people on to the empty gondolas. I had one to myself and made the most of it by taking plenty of video footage in 4K 60fps. Watch this space for the edited video.

It was only a mile or two to the Thames Barrier from the other end of the Dangleway next to the O2 Arena. It did not take long to walk along what is mainly Olympian Way, with lots of riverside apartments. When I got to the barrier a dark cloud came over but the barrier was in the sun, a Thames barge came throigh for a lovely sight worthy of a photo.

I walked through and industrial esate to a main road then got a bus to Woolwih and headed down to the Arsenal. On the way I stopped off at a really friendly cafe and had poached eggs on toast. Down by the river I got a boat all the way back to Embankment which took about 50 minutes.

Back at Euston I had 15 minutes to wait for the 1534 to Tring, and was home at 16:30. The offcial Thames path was done but I plan to return a walk twards Kent and where the sea offically starts, but that will be a story for another day.

Thames Path 2 – Day 12 Hammersmith to Westminster

Busy at work right now and I was baby sitting a data migration over the weekend for a new system. I work up early 0500 so decided to check on progress and get the early train to Euston at 0601. As the data migration only needed an eye on it and the odd nudge I took a WiFi hotspot and tablet with me, so I could use a Citrix client. It is amazing how easy it is to connect to work these days.

Moored barges

The journey to Hammersmith would only take 1:15. I headed straight for the Victoria line and headed south to Green Park then changed to the Piccadilly line to Hammersmith. THe ube was full of people going to work lots of builders, and many asleep. It was a short walk to the river and Hammersmith Bridge. I stuck to the north bank as sun was low in the sky and the light still warm.

The sky was quite blue with plenty of wispy high altitude clouds and some low fluffy cumulous. I had high hopes of capturing some great photos. I was soon passing seom of the University Boat Race landmarks, the Harrods Depositary, and Fulham Football club. At Fulham ground you are forced inland and past the brick work of the end of the stadium. Interestingly all the fan entrances were only one body wide, perhaps to control the flow of fans, you would only fit one person at a time. Finally I got to Putney Bridge which is where the race starts.

Just before Battersea Bridge I heard a helicopter, but could not see it anywhere, then I came across the London Heliport where a copter was getting ready ti take off. It taxied out to the hilpad over the rivers edge, on its wheels. The took off, after a which a smaller hilcopter that had passed by a few minutes earlier descended then hovered over the pad then taxied a few metres off the ground to a parking space, where a member of staff signalled it to the correct position using ping pong bats.

Cranes at Battersea power station construction

I was getting a bit hungry that point so I searched google maps for somewhere to eat, I fancied a late breakfast. Vibes cafe came up as good and it was just on the land edge of Battersea park, a bit of a detour. It was well worth the visit, in a small parade of shops in a non descript building, I had a lavely Avo on toast when crumble goats cheese and a poached egg. Washed down with a black coffee and a sit down it was very welcome.

Next land mark was Battersea power station, which is being redeveloped, I tried to get some pictures of the many white cranes amongst the iconic chimneys. I passed the US embassy and then crossed the river at Vauxhall bridge. It was getting hot in the sun so I popped into Tate Britain and found a sofa in the cool building. I logged into work and pushed a few jobs in the migration on.

Thames side apartement block

I decides to finish at Westminster Bidge as it was getting hot and I had walked far enough. To boot the demonstration against Boris was due at noon on Whitehall. I joined the chanting crowds at the junction with Downing Street, and made my voice heard. I hung around for a while protesting then headed straight back to Euston from Charring Cross tube station.

I got the 13:01 train but it did not go to plan. The train puled forward then stopped, then when it was out of the station it stopped again. Apparently the signals on the slow lane were faulty. Eventually we reversed back then went forward and were pointed to the fast lane. It added a bout 20 minutes to Journey. I expected to do the final leg to the Thames barrier next time. I also had to think about walking a bit further on, but how far?

Thames path 2 – Day 11 Kingston to Hammersmith

Very early start as the day was promising to be hot and I would be walking in London outskirts. The 06:01 from Berkhamsted was on the and whisked me away to Euston. I had decided on a slight change of plan, I had 32 miles left to do and if I kept up the average it would mean two days walking. My new plan was to do it over three days and take in some of the London landmarks along the way. Today would be from Kingston to Barnes. I had considered driving to the London Wetland centre but although the parking was free it did not open till 09:30, and in any case the train would be a similar time.

London heliport

The path is really good on this stretch and fairly urban beyond the green of the parks by the river side. I decided to time my sled for the first hour, to see what speed I could sustain. I managed the fouril s to Richmond Bridge in an hour and four minutes which I was pleased with. My pace was fast bit not flat out. I treated myself to an almond croissant and coffee from a cafe under one of the bridge arches.

My next 4 miles was 01:10 done at a normal somewhat leisurely pace. The path continues past Kew and ???. The bridges are becoming more frequent, as the centre of London gets closer. There were lots of joggers on the path all with those own style of running. I left the path at Hammersmith and got the tube to Westminster my support was needed there.

Thames bridge

The remainers were protesting at against Boris and Brexit, so I thought I would go along and show support. I was a bit early so I headed towards the start of the march and joined in for a bit at Trafalgar Square.

Thames path 2 – Day 10 Staines on Thames to Kingston upon Thames

I was in two minds about walking this Saturday because the weather was predicted to be quite hot but on examination of the detail and he said it wasn’t going to get hot to later on in the afternoon and by that time you will be cloudy and ever after beer cooling breeze. So I headed out by car to Twickenham which would be a pivot point for my public transport journeys full stop first from Twickenham to Staines and then when I walk to Kingston from Kingston back to Twickenham that resulted in the shortest journey.

I left the house 16 and was at Staines station by 8 he was very early said he would many people about 4 though there were four lads asleep on the bank before of the wine and beer clearly had been out all night. The first way point of note was the Penton Hook lock, and very grand it is too, wide and with a white imposing lock keepers house.

Chertsey Lock and bridge followed. The bridge looks quite old, compared the others on this stretch of the Thames. My first stop was for coffee at the Nauticalia shop where a ferry takes you over the river to Weybridge. The coffee and lemon and elder flower cake went down a treat.

The ferry was very short, and I was the only passenger. Although fairly urban you go through a patch of river with no visible houses except for one with its own bridge. I did a timedile for the fun of it and got a time of 17:20, which I was happy with. I rested for 10 minutes at Sunbury lock. I had another 6.5 miles to go for the day.

The next few miles whizzed by, as I tried another times distance, this time at what I thought was a slower pace, but I managed 16:10 minute miles. I don’t trust the Fitbit anymore, time to get a GPS logger me thinks.

At Kingston there was a regatta going on, and I went straight to Hampton Wick station and got the train back to Twickenham, coat a generous £2.20.

Thames Path 2 – Day 9 Maidenhead to Staines on Thames via Windsor

The weather promised to be hot 22 to 23 degrees down by the Thames, however late morning it would become cloudy so I took the opportunity for an early start and parked up at Windsor station early 4707 train to Windsor. From Windsor I took a taxi to Maidenhead and I would drop stuff just one turns.

There was some sort of swimming isn’t going on as I hit the path loads of people in wetsuits and swimsuits walking up the path they clearly finished their swim and were returning home. I passed under the Brunel bridge the widest and lowest brick arches in the world. Later down the path possibly a mile I came across the end of the race where they were packing up the electronic detectors full stop

The sun was shining and it was starting to get quite warm. The river pass is very quiet alien Matthew dog walkers and runners. The path is on the left populated side of the river with quite a few large houses on the far bank.

by the time I got to Windsor the sun was quite high in the sky and it was getting very hot however the cloud with starting to form and I look forward to the time when we had full cloud gallery so it wouldn’t be quite a lot. Windsor you cross the river and get onto the other card where are you then passed around the peninsula of land that Windsor castle is built on. The grass bank on the other side is far more valid than the one where the path goes. Next place of note was Eton knock with its flower beds and grand houses around.

It started to heat up a bit takeaway went through Runnymede, which is where the Magna carta was signed many years ago. I stopped off at pub for a well earned on Tuesday and soda water and sat on a table next to a table of Americans who appeared to be walking the Thames. they left before me that I think at caught up with him and another couple who I had them catching up with and then then overtaking me since Windsor.

I was really glad to get to Maidenhead and it was only a short walk to the railway station. The weather had turned sunny again so it was getting very hot and because I wasn’t wearing my walking boots my feet were more sore than usual. This make of the path was not particularly inspirational that was nice to go through Windsor most of the day was spent underneath the Heathrow flight path which made it very difficult to listen to podcast. now I only have another three legs to go and I’ll have to come up with some other route to walk.

Thames Path 2 – Day 8 Henley-on-Thames to Marlow then Maidenhead

Another early start because the weather promised to be up to 21 by lunchtime. It took time to park up the car at the second car park I tried at Maidenhead station only to then find out the train was delayed by 7 minutes, that still left me with plenty of time to get across platforms at Twyford to catch the train to Henley on Thames.

I set out from Henley station in glorious sunshine at just after 0800. There was lots of activity going on as I walked from the bridge at Henley towards Marlow, they were setting up for the annual Henley royal regatta. The women’s Henley regatta was also in progress as I walk past clearly they have started early because they had quite a lot of races to get through. The race seem to be timed rather than one against another with one boat leaving about once a minute or once every two. Whilst I walked the length of the course there was double scull, single scull and 4 person scull.

As you leave the regatta area the tarmac path runs out and you’re back on grass and it’s not long before you come across Hambledon Lock. The weir just beyond is probably one of the largest I have seen on the Thames it was in full flow due to the rain in the past two weeks it was quite spectacular.

At Aston the thames path head inland on a road then you turn left at the Flowerpot inn and go uphill where there are great views over the thames. As you pass the grounds of Culham court you go through a extensive wildflower meadow which was full of pink vetch type flowers and large daisies.

I made good progress to Hurley lock passing Danesfield House hotel high up on the bank as the Thames turn to the right. Unfortunately the tea shop at Hurley lock did not open till 11 so I carried on walking towards Marlow where I hope to get coffee and a snack. The footbridge across the the river just before Temple Lock which had been closed up until only a few days before definitely had some flex and the repairs they done look like they were coming away already.

Just outside Marlow i came across a fisherman who has caught a very large carp. He was trying to take a selfie using his mobile on a stand I helped him out by taking the photo for him, I also took a few with mine to email on. In Marlow I stopped in Copia Coffee for an americano and scrambled eggs, Asian early lunch. I was 8 miles in so past halfway, but it wasn’t getting any cooler.

After Spade Oak it’s pretty much pasture land for quite away you pass Spade Oak and Bourne end. I managed to get an ice cream at Bourne end. I did the section fairly quickly because just outside Marlow I saw a guy walking fairly fast and slowly over a couple of miles I caught up and overtook him. at Cookham I decided to leave the Thames path and take a slightly longer route through the National Trust Cliveden estate. It looks like there was less road but it turns out that the footpath was pretty close to the road anyway. It did give me an opportunity to have a nice national trust coffee before the final few miles through the cliveden estate and then onto a road into Maidenhead and to my car at the station.

I realised when I finally got to Maidenhead at mile 17.5 that I had not marked the route back to the Railway Station, and annoyingly I had another mile and a half to ge to the car. I grabbed some dinner from a Waitrose. It had been a long day walking from 08:00 to 16:30.

Australia – Brisbane City tour

As I was there it would have been strange to not take a look at the city of Brisbane itself, so I got dropped off at the end of the school run, then caught a 200 bus to the centre where I grabbed a coffee and did some research. Two attractions near by caught my eye, the Brisbane Martine Museum, run by volunteers so would probably be good, and the Boggo Goal tour, which only closed in the 80’s.

The Boogie Gaol was a timed tour only and I got myself on the only daily tour at 11:00. That gave me some time to take in the Maritime Museum. I only had about an hour before I would have to go to Boggo so I checked I could get back in later. I enjoyed the museum, I did the outside area first then the indoor exhibits later. They have a few boats that has taken part in endeavours for example the pink boat a 16 year old sailed round the world in and a boat some guys had built from a flat pack and rowed across the Atlantic. The Boggo Gaol was a good tour, you got to see all the graffiti still on the cell walls. The tour guide was informed, ttpld us about the notorious roof top riots, and attempted escapes.

I walked through the the Botanical gardens but they were nowhere near as good as Sydney or Perth. Next I was walking through part of the city centre offices area, before getting to a pedestrian bridge over to the Southbank where Brisbane Gallery of Modern Art or GOMA is. Modern art is veryuch a love it or hate it thing, so I passed a lot of the stuff. There was a great film I saw years ago call power of 10, and I always have time to watch it.

I had done enough walking so I headed back to G&Ls on the 200 bus, I would have to find time for another day in the city.

Australia – Maleny to Brisbane and my final weekend

I request breakfast at 07:30, eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes, interestingly the eggs were poached in shallow water so looked like fried eggs except without the fat, I will try the method myself. After a brief chat I bid the hosts farewell and drive to the centre of Maleny for supplies, I had a mountain to climb.

Mount Ngungun is the sixth tallest of the Glass House Mountains at 253 m. There are others which look more spectacular but these cannot be climbed or, as was the case on the day were closed due to the bad weather. I parked up at the start of the trail, some people were just setting out on the trail, they sprayed themselves. I figured it was mosquito repellent. Finished my coffee and started up the path only to be bitten twice by mosquitoes. I turned back drive into town and bought some spray.

Suitably kitted out I returned sprayed myself then just the path again. It was quite humid in the forest at the base of the climb until most of the way up. The sun being out contributed somewhat. The path is relatively short but the net result is a steep one. Lots of steps are cut it of the path and protected by rocks. Half way up there is a big overhang which looks like a a cave. The last few hundred metres the path flattens out a bit before a final little kick, which is a bit of a bottle neck.

On the top it is all orange rock and the ridge stretches for about 75 metres to a small pinnacle, interestingly infested by flies so I did not stay there for long, retreating about 10 metres away. I rested for a while taking a timelapse and taking on some water. I got chatting to a guy flying a DJI drone, he told me about the best Glass Mountain to climb Beerwah, which although is very steep in places he said it was perfectly achievable.

At the bottom of the climb two guys asked me about mosquitoes, I gave them the use of my spray. I spent the rest of the day driving and taking in the scenery, stopping off a a couple of small towns. The final leg back to Brisbane took me along a motorway that was being widened, and the traffic was heavy, such a contrast to the roads just a couple of 10’s of km west and inland.

The Friday evening we went over to the other cousin-in-law and caught up. I was invited to play poker on the Saturday night, I wasn’t sure given my lack of knowledge of the game.

The next morning we went for breakfast near G’s boxing gym. I had scrambled eggs on toast, G had a Rbens bagel, corned beef and sauerkraut, L had the fitness bowl which looked the best of our chosen dishes. The fitness bowl had a cornucopia of items, yogurt, haloumi, eggs, nuts avocado and seeds. We also were offered a sample of cold brewed black coffee, which takes 50 hours to prepare, it tasted like cold black coffee. Not my cup of tea.

L dropped me off at SD&P’s where I helped them get setup for the poker night, there was a lot of preparingvand cooking going on, they were expecting 22 players and about another 10ish family members. I set up a new Bose networked speaker for D.

Everyone arrived but there were. A couple of no shows so I agreed to join them all and play. $40 is the going fee and you get a pile of chips. The ante went up over the evening as did the small and large bets. I was a bit lost but managed to be the person with the most chips on the table at the mid evening break. After some dessert and ice cream we started playing again. I did not last long, after the break it only takes a few hands to lose a lot.

Sunday I spend over at SD&P’s we went for a ferry ride followed by a walk in the peak and lunch at an Italian deli. In the evening we went out for a Thai meal in West town, I had seafood Lhaksa which was very good. After we stopped off at a trendy coffee shop and had dessert I had citrus tart again very nice.

Australia – Toowoomba to Maleny

I left the Sunday Motel before 08:00 and headed for the Japanese gardens which feature in the tourist blurb. It was strangely in a housing estate on the edge of the city. The gardens are Ju Raku En (roughly translated means ‘to enjoy peace and longevity in a public place’) were opened on 21 April 1989 by Mr Yoshiharu Araki from the Brisbane Consul-General of Japan. I chose the wrong time for a visit as they were not that peaceful a gales was blowing and the gardener was shaping the shrubs with a petrol hedge strimmer. I didn’t stay longer than it took to walk around and take a few pictures.

On the way out of the city I grabbed a coffee and wrote a few postcards. I hadn’t appreciated how high up the city is, as I left there was a steep motorway with views across the plains below. Lorries were warned to use a low gear and there were two emergency escape lanes one which had been used, based on the tracks. Towards the bottom a few lorries were going really slowly, despite the hill leveling out a bit, I theorised that they had hot brakes or something.

I stopped for another coffee at a rest stop at the bottom then made the mistake of trying to take a country road. It was a good gravel track to start but about 15km in it dwindled down to a narrow track, I decided was too off road, so I had to double back. The countryside was flat and agricultural for a while and on a couple of detours I passed through some small towns with the traditional high street and not much else, Lowood was a good example and I stopped to take a look around.

Phil had recommended a route cross country to the east of the waters formed by Somerset Dam. I found the route despite Google complaining, and climbed steadily, then I was in rolling hills for a while. I passed through a very small village with a Coronation gall and a shop, there were a lot of trailers with powerful speed boats on trailers. I stopped to investigate, they were there to fish in the fast flowing waters of the river which was swollen by the rains and the Dan just up stream generating electricity, it was in full flow. I’m not sure how speed boats and fishing mix but there were boats promoting fishing magazines and tackle.

Next stop was Kilcoy, another small town far from the previous town. I’m figuring that the reason these towns can support small independent shops, is the distance to the next town, although I got the impression some were hanging on by a string.

Maleny was an interesting place, there was a spiritual hippy feel to the place. I wandered up and down the high street and bought a second hand book. In a local artist cooperative I managed to find that elusive gift I had been searching for for Helen, no clues as to what it might be here ;-).

I had already passed her my accommodation was, so it was easy to find Sienna Chalets, which turned out to be a B&B. The room was clean and comfortable, breakfast was included. Accommodation is more expensive than the UK so it always felt like the accommodation was slightly shorter version priced, either that or I am a tight arse. I settled in and started to process two days worth of photos, then headed down to road to Brouhaha brewery for something to eat. The beer selection. Was great although a little bit less fizz and not so cold and I think they may have cracked making a good beer. I had broadbean falafel for a starter and a seared tuna salad for main, the most healthy meal for quite a few days. All tasted and went down nicely. I was in bed early as I had booked a 07:30 breakfast, I had a mountain to climb and a giant pineapple to visit the next day. Watch this space.

Australia – The Pyramids and Toowoomba

I woke up at about 07:30 and my alarm went off, I had decided to skip the motel breakdfast to get an early start. I grabbed a Snickers, fruit and water from the Coles over the road, then headed to the Pyramids for a second summit attempt. On the way out I grabbed a coffee from a cafe and my Snickers served as breakfast.

It only took about 30 minutes to get those the Girrawin National Park, I parked up and my alarm went on again, I realised I had assed onto another state New South Wales was on daylight savings, and my mobile had picked the time up from the mobile network. Some backpackers were dismantling their tents before the park rangers turned up.

I set out along the now familiar path, there were a lot more Kangaroos about, and headed up the steep steps to the section where I had abandoned the day before. The route across the rocks were fine now they were dry. I was surprised how exposed the route was in places. I got to a point where the rock was again wet after some pondering I decided to regroup and sat on a rock, whilst the sun which was occasionally breaking through the clouds did its stuff and dried the rock surface. I waited about 30 minutes and things looked no better so for a second time I reluctantly turned around. On the way down I warned a couple about the wet rock, they thanked me but wanted to see it for themselves. I wonder if they took the challenge on.

I dropped in to the Pyramids vinery on the way back to the main road and got G&L some wine for putting up with me, then took after a few miles on the road took a few back roads. I left the granite rim and was now in an agricultural region, all the way to Toowoomba.

I came to one town called Allora which was typical of the towns you come across in these parts. One street or block in the centre has all the local shops, some of them not really shops, i.e. lawyers, vets doctors. The high street is normally really wide and cars park diagonally, there is never normally a problem finding a space.

Next came big open skies over a big agricultural plain, with crops and cattle in every available field. The road slowly climbed to Toowoomba. I parked up and went for a wander. The local art museum reminded me of home with the landscape paintinf by English artists. One of the reasons for visiting Toowoomba was to meetup with Phil who I had been at school with over 37 years previously. His wife ison Facebook and arranged themeetong. We went to a coffee shop and spent two hours talking about school and what we had been up too since. It is not something I would normally do but I really enjoyed meeting up and would definitely do it with other old friends.

We said our goodbyes byes and I headed to a close Thai restaurant, and had prawn Lhaksa even though it was not on the menu. My quest for the perfect one continues.