Wapping to Putney Bridge
Sunday 20 September 2015
Another beautiful day so, although I should be catching up on housework, gardening etc., having been at the Newbury Show all day yesterday, I decided to do Section 2 of my Thames Path. Before setting off, I did the ironing so I left later than I would have liked. I was further delayed because the tube only ran as far as Aldgate. I walked to Whitechapel where I thought I’d get on the London Overground train for the short trip to Wapping. However, Whitechapel tube station was closed so I had no option but to walk down to the river. With the help of my A to Z I walked a more or less straight line through Tower Hamlets with its multi-cultural, multi-ethnic population.
When I arrived at Shadwell Basin I was ready for a rest and lunch before the walk had even started. It was after 3 o’clock when I reached Wapping! It was well worth the wait though. I loved the walk to St. Katherine Docks and past Tower Bridge and the Tower. I walked among the tourists listening to their happy and excited chatter, trying to guess which corner of the world they have come from. I grabbed a coffee from a kiosk but continued the walk, admiring the views across the river, the Shard gleaming in the sunshine, the bridges and then the London Eye. At Westminster I had a short break. After some wandering around underground passages I found the toilets (I was getting desperate!}. It was now nearly 6 o’clock and I had to decide how far I wanted to go today. I sat down briefly in Victoria Tower Gardens, an oasis of calm after the hustle and bustle of tourist London and a favourite place of mine, to consult my map. My original plan was to stop today’s walk at Chelsea but I decided to try and get to Putney Bridge because from there I had a direct tube train to Paddington. Knowing that I still had an awful lot of walking to do, and aware that the light was already starting to fade, I quickened my pace to try and get as far as possible before it got dark. After Mill Bank and the Tate Gallery the walk took me into new territory. I stopped briefly by the road side garden in Pimlico to finish my lunch in the company of geese and gulls and in view of MI5. The riverside promenade now continued past The Royal Hospital Chelsea and followed the famous Cheyne Walk. I’ve heard the house prices here are sky high – I can believe it. Before reaching Chelsea Harbour there was a detour due to road works. This meant that I lost my way, which was quite annoying as it was rapidly getting dark. There was a huge new apartment and hotel complex to be negotiated and, possibly due to the lack of useful sign posting, even the locals struggled to point me in the right direction. Only on the third attempt was I pointed to and even shown the place where I was able to rejoin the riverside path. Despite the sun having nearly set I really enjoyed the Chelsea waterfront. The broad riverside promenade offered lovely views of river, its bridges and the lit up buildings on the opposite bank. There was still a glimmer of light where the sun has set. Unfortunately this pleasant stretch was only too short and soon the Chelsea Harbour area gave way to an industrial interlude near Wandsworth Bridge. The path veered away from the river and continued along a dark and deserted street. I was glad when I reached Hurlingham Park. Quite a few dog walkers were out walking their pooches and when the path cut through the dark lawn a friendly couple pointed me in the right direction as the path was invisible in the dark. I’m not too keen on dogs normally but I do generally like dog walkers. They are friendly and usually know the local area so when I need to ask for directions they are the first people I look to approach. Thanks to this couple’s directions I reached Putney Bridge soon after and the journey home was straightforward. This has been quite a long stretch but the variety of neighbourhoods and plenty of points of interests made it thoroughly enjoyable.
- St Katherine Docks, Tower Bridge and the Tower of London
- London skylines
- Victoria Tower Garden
- Ducks, geese, gulls, ravens and other birds
- Train Reading to Paddington; London Underground to Wapping (terminated at Aldgate today)
- Return: London Underground from Putney Bridge to Paddington; Train Paddington to Reading
- Plentiful all along the route (pubs, cafes, shops)
- Westminster Underground Station