Sunday, July 21, 2013

Day 4: Chelsea Bridge to Barnes Bridge (Section 2)

From Wandsworth Bridge, once again I have to move away from the riverside as there is more construction work going on behind this fencing.

It was a little early for me to stop for lunch but 'The Ship' would have made the ideal place with a two tiered terrace overlooking the river. They were just getting the BBQ going as I walked passed.

Back onto a wide walkway where in the distance you can see the red gantries which lower rubbish from the waste disposal plant to waiting barges.

This is the Wandle creek, a tributary of the River Thames. A couple of hundred years ago this river carried so much water that over an 11 mile stretch it provided the energy for 90 mills.
On the left of the picture you can see the Spit which is now a small wetland nature reserve.

Walking back round to the river you come across the new Riverside quarter (a very original name!). There are lots of new apartments, shops, restaurants and piazzas.

 Fall by Alan Thornhill.

I soon found myself walking through another park - Wandsworth Park. Large trees now shaded my path as I wandered along listening to the sounds of the children playing in the park.

Leaving the park, you have to wander down a couple of streets until you arrive back onto another new walkway and within sight of the next bridge which is Putney.


There are medieval churches on both sides of the river, (this photo just shows the tower of St Mary the Virgin) which would denote that Putney was an ancient crossing point of the Thames. Originally by ferry and then a wooden toll bridge was built here in 1729. The present bridge dates from 1884. Crossing the road now is a very busy junction at Putney, but once back by the river the traffic, noise and pollution seem a world away. 

The Star and Garter public house was first found on a map of Putney in 1787. Originally it was built as a hotel for the sailing community. Nowadays the pub is more famous for being at the starting point for the annual University boat race between Oxford and Cambridge. The race ends at Chiswick Bridge in Chiswick.

The pathway is now the pavement but all along the embankment are the slipways down into the river, whilst the rowing clubs by the road read like a list of some of the most prestigious private schools.


On the river were rowing fours or eights or the single sculls and the sound of megaphones from the bank or a motor boat shouting out instructions. Such a change in the river usage in such a short  distance. Much more of a holiday feel from Putney Bridge onwards as access to the river is easier you can see children paddling in the water or feeding the numerous ducks.

The path then goes across a small bridge over a tributary and back onto the towpath.

It then crosses a small bridge over a tributary of the Thames before becoming the towpath again.

It has now become a very leafy and shaded pathway with trees on either side of the path
I have noticed an increase in the number of herons and cormorants I am now seeing. Also saw the first othe many swans that glide along the river.
As soon as I saw the name on this boat shed, memories came flooding back. At the other side of the boat house were fields used by the Inner London Education Authority as school playing fields. It was here in my first teaching post as a PE teacher in Hammersmith that I brought classes of girls to teach them netball and hockey in the winter and athletics in the summer. Not just weekdays but also on Saturday mornings when we had inter school matches. Lots of happy times were had during the years I spent using Barn Elms playing fields.

Looking through the fence it was good to see that the playing fields still existed but now privately owned rather than in the hands of the local authority. It wasn't clear from the signs whether local schools still used the facilities.  

On the otherside of the lane next to the playing fields is the London Wetlands Centre. This used to be a reservoir when I worked in the area but is now a haven for numerous waterbirds. I decided to have a break from the Thames path and wander around the centre. More photos of the Wetland Centre on my other blog here

Back to the path after a very enjoyable couple of hours which included a delicious cream tea (scones with jam and cream and a pot of tea)

Across the river from Barnes is the Fulham Football Club.

The Harrods furniture depository built in 1894, was used to store items of furniture too large to go on display in thhe Knightsbridge store. Since 1990s it has been converted into apartments.

Coming into view is Hammersmith Bridge.

Hammersmith suspension bridge, built in 1887, designed by Sir Joseph Bazalgette who not only designed bridges but also solved the problem of the 'Big Stink' by installing a sewage system. The ironwork is full of elaborate designs.

After the bridge the path was enveloped by the trees and shrubs making it a delightfully cool walk. Every now and then the gaps in the greenery revealed the shimmering water of the river.

A cormorant drying out in the glorious sunshine. I was surprised how little water there appeared to be at this point in the river. Maybe it was the result of a particularly low tide.

This is Barnes village which has a number of interesting small shops and although close to London it does have the feel of a small village community.

Amongst the terrace of 18th and 19th  cent houses is the home of Gustav Holst, the composer who lived here in 1908.
I finished today's walk at Barnes Bridge which is a railway bridge and the station is across the road from the river which was just as well as a large blistered had appeared on my heel!


  1. That seemed to be the most beautiful section you've walked so far. Away from all the industrial sections of the river.

  2. Interesting to see how much wildlife and natural beauty can be seen so near a great city. The Hammersmith Bridge is elegant and quite beautiful.

  3. What an excellent blog this is turning out to be

  4. I suppose the river is very deep in the middle but there doesn't seem to be much water in it.

  5. And the weather is with you on this interesting walks ! So much to see !

  6. thank you for the tour and for stopping by my blog today. Have a wonderful week and more interesting walks!

  7. The trees covering the path looked a nice section. The playing fields bringing back memories must have been nice for you. How far do you walk each time? It seems miles and miles but I guess there is a lot to see in a shot distance. The Hammersmith Bridge is a beauty.


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