The weather was sunny and Helen fancied a quiet day pottering around the house, I um’d and ah’d about a local walk but settled on another section of the Thames. You can get a bus from Staines-on-Thames to Sheperton and it takes 20 minutes. The walk would be less than 10 miles but would get me almost to the M25 which would be a milestone and Staines would be easy to get to for the next leg which would take me to beyond Windsor and Eton.
I arrived in Staines-on-Thames at 10:25 and parked up at a car park opposite the bus station, but the next 458 was due to leave at 10:59, so I had a mediocre coffee at Coffee Corner at the entrance to the shopping centre. The 458 was on time and I was soon back at Sheperton train station, and walked down to the ferry where I had finished the day before.
Guessing that the path would be muddy I wore my walking boots it was a good choice as the path was muddy at times. At Laleham I took a slight detour in land in search of a coffee shop, but found nothing, I had to settle for an oyster from and ice cream van at Penton lock. I had spotted a few strange fibre glass objects on houses since the start of the walk, some sun having shop mannequins, a Stan Laurel, and finally just before Penton lock a polar bear. Whilst eating my ice cream quite a few two man canoes were portaged round the lock it appeared to be a race as they were mainly jogging and support crews were on hand with energy drink and treats.
It was less than two miles to Staines-on-Thames and was done quite swiftly. I toyed with the idea if walking a bit further but saw a sign that said 10 miles to Eton, which was perfect, I’m sure I saw a bus service to Eaton from Staines. Just as I got back to hr cat it started raining as promised by the BBC weather service.
It started out a cold day, when I got up at 7:30 it was snowing, however this just mean that the promised frost did not appear so the car windows did not need scraping. The plan was to attempt to walk from Teddignton and to use the ferry at Sheperton. I parked up near the ferry on the Weybridge side, the rules of the ferry are that you should ring a bell changed to the jetty, but only on the quarter hour. I arrived at 5 past 9 so had a 10 minute wait. I rang the bell a few times s but no one came so I rang the number on the sign, a polite man answered and apologised for not hearing the bell, because the chandlers shop door had been closed. The £2 one way fee was swift due to the two outboard motors. He had to dodge a few rowers and canoeists who were holding some sort of slalom event in the weir.
The walk to the station was 20 minutes and I found a handy Costa coffee just before arriving. The ticket to Teddington was £4.40, not bad I suppose compared to previous Thames sections. The journey took 20 minutes, and I was soon back at the footbridge at Teddington where I had started a few weeks back.
I crossed the river again at Kingston. Parakeets were everywhere, and I heard a loud woodpecker a clear sign that spring is imminent. The path splits into two a high road and a low road, I took the high road because it was not muddy. Both followed the Thames around Hampton park in a big curve making it a sort of peninsula.
I took a wrong turning using a gaye into the Hampton park and had to retrace 300m, then I found the right gate and was happy to see that the cafe was available in the non-ticket area. I had egg and cress with crisps and a coffee. They had free water either iced or lemon sliced. I welcomed the rest I was 6 miles out and not quite half way. I visited Hampton court some years ago and can’t remember too much of it, but from the outside it looks grand, I made a mental note (and clearly a typed one too) to take the time to visit again.
I crossed the river river at Hampton not far from the entrance to the court,I would stay on the southern bank AL the way back to the car. At Molesey there was a lot going on, a relay running race and lots of rowing. There were a lot of house boats and water from chalet type residences as well as high end mansions on the Northern bank.
I had a plan to stop at the only possible stop on the path back to the ferry, a pub at Sunbury locks. I reached the locks but there was no pub, there were buildings that could have been pubs but no pub. You can imagine my joy when just after the locks there was the pub, called The Weir, a freehouse to boot, I had a half of Twyford Tipple and a packet of Jalapeño crisps. A chance to test my feet was very welcome and I only had about 20% of the distance left to walk. It was starting to look a bit greyer outside which reminded me that rain was due early afternoon, the time was 14:00.
The final stretch was not to bad and the rain held off. The path was really in the country side now. I got back to the car and thought I would take a look at the chandlers over the other side of the ferry they had a sale on. I had to go back to the bridge and down ferry road to get there. It turns out it was not a chandlers but was full of cheap clothes and nautical related tat. There were a couple of weather stations going cheap at £25. I moved on then stopped at a Snow and Rock shop outside which cars were hunting for parking spaces. I had a look round but even the stuff on sale seemed expensive.
The walks are becoming easier my feet do not ache as much and I think I can easily do a 15 miler if I needed to, but I will keep the stretched to 10-12 miles but push out longer if it seems appropriate.
Sunday was my opportunity for a walk so I went to bed early for an early start. We got new neighbours on Saturday but we have not really heard a peep out of them yet. I drove to The London Wetland Centre at Barnes and is run by WWT. They have free parking but the sign at the entrance suggested a £10 “donation” would be required if you did not have proof of entrance tickets on exiting, I took a chance, and in any case they do good work so would rather pay them than a car park.
The plan was to walk to Mortlake then public transport my way to Tower Hill then continue where I left off last week. By the time I got to Mortlake I had walked 4 miles, and I realised I may have bitten off more than I could chew. I threw caution to the wind I would see how I got on, and made a note to improve my map measuring technique.
I had a message from a friend last who I had not communicated with for some time, but whom I have known for man years, and we always seem to be able to carry on where we left off. Anyway he had read the blog, yes people do read it and asked if he could join me for a section near Oxford, I jumped at the chance it would be great to meet up again. It would probably be warmer by the time I get that far, and having access to another car would save buses or doubling back.
I splashed out £12.10 on a travel card as I was not sure what i really needed then got the South West train to Waterloo and then the Bakerloo for a stop and jumped on the District line to Tower Hill. I planned on walking for another hourish before a break for lunch.
The Southbank Centre seemed like a good place for some lunch, egg sandwich and hot chocolate, and evaluate the distance left. It turns out there was another 8 miles back to Barnes further than I ideally would have preferred but doable, that remained to be seen however, but with rests at arcticle points I should be OK. I left the the Festival Hall at 12:40.
You start to leave the tourist crowds behind after the Houses of Parliament, so the walking starts to get a bit easier, I put a spurt on for a bit to get some ground behind me. At the bridge before Battersea I crossed over to avoid a hike in land around the old power station. I upped the pace again though Battersea park where I passed the Peace Pagodas. At the village I was forced in land by a path closure, and took the opportunity to stop for a well earned coffee and carrot cake. The cake was a double portion there was a clear portion line down the centre, however two slices was just too much for me.
After Putney bridge is an area where Londoners go to mess about on the river.There were lots of people in rowing boats and some evidence that sailing went on too. I think there were races going on as there were a couple of launches with load hailers.
Back at the Wetland sensor was obvious that the parking would not be free as you needed a token to get out, so I went to the entrance and purchased one of the £10 tokens. This Thames walk is becoming an expensive task, what with the petrol, coffee stops and the rail ticket today it probably cost me over £50! The total distance today was 15 miles and and managed to fill in a gap I now had a continuous stretch of about 40 miles of the Thames done. Only 140 miles to do.
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.
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.
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.