Friday, 13 April 2012

Thames Path - Teddington to Hampton Court

Date of Walk:  7 April 2012
Approx Distance of Walk: 11 km (6.8 miles) (Circular Walk)
 Parking/Transport: Bushey Park
Starting Point: Teddington Lock
Finishing Point: Hampton Court Bridge

Last weekend we walked another stretch of the Thames Path. This time we walked upstream from Teddington to Hampton Court. It was a rather nice circular walk, but most of it was by the river. We parked in Bushy Park, which is adjacent to Hampton Court, and one of the Royal Parks. Parking is free there, which is, of course, a bonus! 

We walked through the park and out of the Teddington Gate, through some residential streets and into Teddington High Street. The high street is full of prosperous looking shops and cafes, which makes a change from the usual mix of chain stores, vacant shops and charity shops that you find in many a high street these days. Not that I've anything against charity shops - I love them!

At the end of the High Street, the graceful suspension footbridge across to Teddington Lock came into view. There are actually four parts to Teddington Lock.

These are the boat rollers, for small portable boats and canoes...

... and this is the big daddy lock, or the barge lock, 650 ft long and designed to take a steam tug and six barges. 

In between are the launch lock, a more normal size...

... and then there is the skiff lock, sometimes called the coffin lock, which is very narrow.

Teddington Lock marks the end of the tidal part of the Thames, although there is still another lock further downstream at Richmond, but that is only used at low tide.

We set off from the lock on the 'Surrey' side of the river, passing the old Thames TV studios on the opposite bank. Just past there is also the Lensbury Club. (The red brick building in the distance.) This was once the Sports and Social club of a well-known oil company that I used to work for. It is now a hotel and conference centre open to the public.

The footpath we followed towards Kingston was well made-up, with a separate cycle track running alongside for a large part of the way, although inevitably there were a few irritating cyclists who insisted on using the footpath and disturbing the walkers!

We stopped in Kingston for lunch, finding a busy food market in this thriving town on a Saturday lunchtime.
Afterwards a quick drink in a river-side pub by Kingston Bridge, we felt refreshed enough to continue on our way. We crossed the bridge to the quieter bank and continued along the Barge Walk, which runs from here along to Hampton Court Palace.

Some interesting architecture on the opposite bank.

A tourist paddle steamer, which passed us earlier, returns from Hampton Court.

 Hampton Court Palace comes into view.

The ornate gates are getting a fresh lick of paint, probably smartening up for the Olympics. The road cycling events will pass through here.

Hampton Court Bridge is the final point for our walk along the Thames today.

From here we pass in front of the palace entrance and back to Bushy Park.

It was nice to have a circular walk for a change, and we really enjoyed our day.

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