We decided to go up to London for the day, and couple a ride on the London eye with a walk along the Thames path from Greenwich back to Westminster. As always we drove to Richmond and then tubbed it into Westminster, its a no direct route and cheaper than the whole journey by train, or trying to park in central London.
As the day was glorious and going to be hot, we decided to treat ourselves to a boat ride down the river to Greenwich first. We opted for the city cruise, slow boat, service and was rewarded by an entertaining and very informative talk by one of the skippers. The amount of history of the river, buildings and people who worked there made the £10 each one way ticket price defiantly worth it. Though it was a little worrying when we got off at Greenwich and mentioned to the boatsman that we would be walking back to the eye, he laughed and said no way!
You can see so much more from the river, the wharfs which helped build the city,
As we walked off the river and around to the Thames path, we opened our lunch, which was fresh french stick and a slab of brie, apples and water and ate as we walked. If you had wanted too, you could have used the tunnel here at Greenwich to cross over the river and walk the opposite bank, we decided to stay on the south bank. There is some regeneration work around Greenwich at the moment, and although the path is marked the whole way, it got a little confusing around the works - we also noticed a few signs missing too - not so important on a walk like this as you can always take a bearing from the river.
We also saw an abundance of butterflies, a couple of red squirrels and surprisingly green spaces, in the form of gardens, parks and even a farm.
We also passed a Victorian hydraulic lock and sluice as a canal boat was entering in to it, we didn't really have time to stop and watch the mechanism do its job, but alwaking around it and over the bridge to the other side of the lock, you got to see most of the workings.
As you approach Tower Bridge the path starts to mingle a little more with the buildings around it, you start to walk through the buildings rather than along the river back. This area was a lot more busy than the path had been before, this was probably as it was a Saturday afternoon, and a sunny one at that. If you have time wander around the little shops here before you pass under the bridge itself, or even take a tour of the bridges workings, its definitely worth a short stop.
This last section of the walk was all about the city and its people, whereas the first part had been about the life and times of the river. Here the views were more concrete, or glass, and the variety of people and activities, the street entertainers, the free speakers, the tourists and the locals. The history was still all around, I knew that this area had been controlled long ago by the bishops of Winchester and that they had their hand in every pie from prostituition, to wharf customs control to building but I never knew that there was once a cathedral here built by the bishops of Winchester, and you walk straight past the remaining holding wall. Squished between the modern buildings its hard to imagine what this would have looked like in its time. As a side note, all the ill gotten pennies made by the bishops actually paid for the real Winchester Cathedral.
Date: 13th August 2011
Total walk: 10.75 miles / 17 km
Descent: 400 ft
Ascent: 294 ft
Average pace: 25.43 mins a mile
Accompanied: Gary Bygrave