3 January 2011

Strand-on-the-Green is a pleasant destination for a walk

Strand-on-the-Green is one of my irregular walking haunts locally that attracts me with its river frontage, lovely buildings and quaint pubs.

I'm not sure what the boundaries of Stand-on-the-Green are officially but the stretch that I frequent follows the Thames from Kew Bridge downstream a few hundred meters just beyond the railway bridge to The Bull's Head, passing the Bell and Crown and City Barge along the way.

The Thames here is still very tidal, it's only when you pass Richmond Lock that the tide's influence is controlled, so how much of it you see varies dramatically. At low tide large swathes of the river bed are exposed tempting you to think that you could easily walk across the gentle stream but the steep steps up to the houses along the tow path reveal what a harsh tyrant the slumbering river can become.

Alongside the moody river runs a collection of houses that look as though they fought a worthy race against an assortment of properties to capture the best positions. Among these winners are some astonishingly grand houses but also some more discrete cottages that have managed to squeeze themselves in to the modest gaps between their more august neighbours.

The houses stop just short of the river to leave enough space for the footpath but not enough for gardens. Walking close to the houses like that almost feels like intrusion at times but they are used to it and know how to respond. Some close the shutters to present a blank face to the world but others, mostly the more ostentatious, delight in the opportunity to show themselves off and make to attempt to fill their windows with wood, cotton or silk.

The changing buildings give purpose to the walk and the pubs provide a good destination. They are all charming, cosy, go heavily on the food (like most pubs these days) and proffer views of the river.

I don't think any of the pubs are special in their own right but the location makes them worth visiting, a welcome break before continuing the walk either upstream or down. In my case it was upstream back to Kew Bridge and the 65 bus home again.

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