15 February 2008

Long walk home*

I'm burning off some of my leave carried over from last year and while most of this is just relaxing at home I also managed to get in a decent walk. I took the train from Richmond to Waterloo and then walked back along the Thames Path.

I have no real idea of how long the route is, as the river bends so much and the path moves away from the river at times, but it took me almost seven hours, with short breaks for a coffee (Cake Boy, Battersea) and a pizza (Pizza Express, Barnes), so it must have been a fair way.

The journey started with the obvious London sights including the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament. At this point there are hordes of tourists including some Japanese student who were dressed like Ryder Cup golfers in tan trousers and dark blue blazers and some Czech students who all had shoulder bags provided by Ceska Sporitelna (Czech Savings Bank), who I worked for seventeen years ago.

The tourists areas soon pass and we hit Battersea (below). Here industry still dominates the south bank and the path has to take some detours away from the river, including a long one around the famous Battersea Power Station.

A little further on and we are in Wandsworth which has a ribbon development of new luxurious flats along the river but little infrastructure (no tube and it took me ages to find a coffee shop). Somebody obviously thinks that there are tens of thousands of people who want to live on the part of the river but I am not so sure. Some evidence for this is that some of the blocks that were already there the last time I did this walk two years ago still have massive advertising hoardings.

The rest of the walk is a jumble of more industry, more new flats, parkland, boathouses, bridges and some really nice houses. The unplanned nature of this part of London is all too obvious and it's like walking through different layers of history. The posh name for this may be "psychogeography" but I'll let you know once I have read Will Self's book. Incidentally, Will Self covered some of the same route on his walk to Heathrow that I read about in a BA in-flight magazine some years ago.

*Long Walk Home is one of the tracks on the very excellent album Life by Neil Young.

1 comment:

  1. Interesting walk! It's always interesting to read about parts of London that I know. I used to live in Kingston, then Isleworth and have worked at the Swedish School in Barnes as well as in the West End. All of this is literally "up my street", "my mother's street" as we say in Swedish. Thanks for the tour!


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