03 January 2012
Walking to Teddington
A wide path built for pedestrians and cyclists passes my house and winds gently down to the river where it joins the tow-path that links Kingston to Richmond far more scenically than the main road does.
Turning right at the river leads to Richmond and the first stop along the way is Teddington.
The first thing that you notice is the weir.
You hear the water tumbling down the man-made steps and see the devices that attempt to control the river by creating a smooth passage to the lock that skirts past the violent route taken by most of the water.
The barriers and machinery have been built with only functional thoughts in mind and absolutely no attempt has been made to disguise or beautify them. This industry in the water mirrors that of the ramshackle boats moored at the edge of it. I like them both.
Teddington Lock is big, as it needs to be to cater for the large pleasure boats that fill this stretch of the river in warmer times.
Walking to the far end of the lock you can appreciate its size. For a start you can hardly see the brick office where the lock-keepers do their work and you certainly cannot see beyond that to the other end of the lock.
You can see the two houses at the side of the lock that give further evidence of its size and the number of staff that were once required to work it.
The water slips past the lock either side of the orange paths that ring the grass in the middle of the artificial island.
The main lock is on the left here and there are three other passageways over to the right. This lock caters for boats of all sizes right down to the canoeists who have rollers to ease their path as they walk across.
These are views that I never tire of.
Looking upstream gives another view of the weir complex where sturdy barriers keep foolhardy boats away from the turbulent waters.
Oblivious of this, two ducks skip lightly away from the artificial island that supports the bridge over the broad river.
There may be danger here but there is calm and beauty too.
If you can resist that temptation then the Tide End is almost next door.
I went to the Anglers. This is a nice enough pub but the locals and dart board have been usurped by children and gastro food.
I have fond memories of this pub as it was literally on my route home when I worked out by Heathrow for IBM. I would catch the bus from Feltham to Teddington Lock and walk home from their, passing through the pub for a swift one as I did so.
The bridge has not changed, however, except for the occasional lick of new paint.
Somehow its construction seems far more solid than necessary to support just a few pedestrians and (dismounted) cyclists.
This is a river of two halves.
On this side (Middlesex) the weir has been tamed to create a space that is quiet and residential and on the other side (Surrey) there is the bustle of commerce through the lock.
The other side also has the trees and fields of Ham Lands so having dallied briefly in Teddington, and enjoyed my pint, it is with pleasure that I return back over the bridge to Ham and the footpath home.