That big blue (sometimes dank) streak of water which runs through London: where the boats float by, modern high rise apartments fill the banks, and tourists climb on top of one another to get the best photo of Big Ben! Yes, we all 'know' the Thames. But do the majority of people know what lies beyond East of Tower Bridge and West of Vauxhall Bridge?
Having spoken to many...it seems not. And there is one slice that deserves a closer look. A part of the Thames that is untamed, naturally protected and provides ample opportunity for various daytime and nighttime activities. A part you wouldn't know unless you reside in close proximity to it.
This is the stretch from Putney Bridge west towards Barnes Railway Bridge. A stretch famous for one day of the year when the OxBridge Boat Race rolls into town. But whether you’re a navy or sky blue this event does not to the stretch of the river any justice.
From Putney toward Hammersmith Bridge you have the delights of one the oldest football stadia in the country - the beautiful Craven Cottage. Home of Fulham FC and an infamous Michael Jackson statue standing on the river bank. On the South Bank you hear and smell the delights of Barnes Wetland Centre (a great place for family days) and experience the old Harrods warehouse store. Before Hammersmith Bridge (The first suspension bridge to cross the Thames) you have the excellent Riverside Studios, with plenty of shows throughout the year to keep a thespian occupied.
Once past the Bridge, there are an array of licensed venues on the Northern side to keep your belly happy and your tongue fizzing. Whether you’re a jogger, mother pushing her child, dog walker or drinker the Lower Mall has everything. Breakfasts, lunches and dinners can all be enjoyed here.
As the sun shines directly on this walkway, there is no more wonderful place to sip a cool pint, enjoy al fresco food, or watch the rowers and catch up with friends. A little Oasis in an ever bustling London. On this stretch there is the famous ‘Dove’ pub which dates back to the 17th Century, and once held the record for Britain’s shortest licensed bar. Their terrace overlooks both to the West and East. As you move westwards you encounter unspoilt 4 storeys houses and stumble across the Fullers Brewery, home of the world famous London Pride pint. A suggestion of mine is to go on the brewery tour: teaching at its finest.
The walk continues with front gardens overlooking the river until, finally, you arrive at Barnes Railway Bridge. Trains runs across it and so can you! The South side couldn’t be any more different to the North. The passage between river and the main road is overgrown with high greenery and full of pleasant views. Enjoy the walk as you move on and witness the splendour of St Paul’s playing fields until you return to Hammersmith. This stretch of water is no timid Thames.
TOP TIP Lunch in the sunshine in a pub on Lower Mall.
Author: Julian Slawinski