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Life Line

Downstream — Trip 7

On the previous trip I walked from to Staines to Teddington Lock. The start of the walk was easy to reach by a direct train from Waterloo, but it does involve a 1 km walk in Teddington. But please do make sure you get out at the right side of the station, otherwise that walk is 2 km ☺.

Day 9 — Teddington Lock to the Golden Jubilee Bridges

Downstream — Day 9

I didn't spend a lot of time at Teddington Lock, as I had done so a week earlier. I did notice a few signs saying "Caution! Tidal" as a reminder that the Thames downstream from Teddington Lock is tidal. At the moment it was low tide, although at Teddington that is still a little hard to see due to the presence of Richmond Lock. At Teddington Lock you can chose whether the follow the North or South Bank to the Thames Barrier. As I know that the North Bank's path has a lot of barriers and diversions, especially further East in the City, I chose to walk the Thames Path along the South Bank.

On most of today's walk I was accompanied with rowers on the Thames—for practice, teaching, and races. There must be a rowing club every other kilometre or so. On the way into Richmond the Petersham Hotel looming above the town.

Just beyond Richmond the Thames path passes along the Old Deer Park, where I encountered a Meridian Line. Before Greenwich became the Prime Meridian in 1884, the line at Richmond, which passes through the King's Observatory fulfilled this role for a few centuries.

Not far from the first Meridian Line is Richmond Lock and Footbridge. This is the last lock on the Thames, but it is not a full lock. The lock is accompanied by sluice gates which are open when the tide is at it highest—around two hours on either side of the high tide mark. During that time boats can bypass the lock gates. When the sluice gates are closed, boats have to use the lock to make their way downstream or upstream. When I walked by, the Thames was nearly at its lowest point, and hence, the sluice gates were closed. I didn't see any boats wanting to go through the lock either though.

Beyond the Old Deer Park, the Thames Path passes between the Thames and Kew Gardens. You can unfortunately not see much of it, due the dense vegetation and a wall. You can only really get a glimpse of Kew Palace. Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, as the gardens are also called, is well worth visiting—especially in Spring.

Now that I passed the last lock at Richmond, there are no further more locks all the way to the North Sea, however, there are plenty of bridges that cross the Thames, both for car, and rail and tube traffic. It became very clear that it was low tide, as there were vast areas of the bottom visible, with plenty of people trying to hunt for treasures.

I had lunch in Putney, at The Duke's Head, where I also had a local brew from nearby Wimbledon brewery. I did pass by the Stag Brewery as well, but that only makes Budweiser, or so their sign says.

After lunch the small deviations from the Thames Part started, as there is a lot of new building works going on in Wandsworth and Battersea. The path wasn't always signed very well, or the signs were outdated due to either new developments, or completed ones with the redirections still in place. Only at the former Battersea Power Station the deviation was a little annoying, as it included going along a busy road.

After going around the SIS building, I was back on familiar territory. I have walked along the Thames East from Lambeth Bridge to Tower Bridge many times. This is also the section that becomes really busy on nice warm autumn days, so my progress was slowed down a little.

A few more bridges later, the Sun started to come closer to setting. I always like this moment in a day, as the light becomes extra yellow, which makes in my opinion for much better photos. You also get to catch the Sun's rays on buildings, such as Lambeth Palace.

Across the river from Lambeth Palace is the Palace of Westminster, where the UK's parliament sits. One of the towers is the Elizabeth Tower, which also hosts the Big Ben bell. The latter is currently out of action and wrapped in scaffolding, as the bell and its tower are being refurbished.

I finished my walk just beyond the London Eye at the Golden Jubilee Bridges. From there on it was a short walk to Waterloo station where I took the tube home. It took however nearly an hour from the bridge to the station, but that was only because I sat down at the Waterloo Tap for a restorative beverage.

Only one more walk to go!

Photos from my Adventure on the Thames Path are available on Flickr, and all videos on Vimeo. You can also see all the photos on a map.


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