24 February 2012

A stroll to Strand on the Green

I really like the walk to Strand on the Green so it's a shame that busy schedules mean that I only get to do it once a year or so.

The journey starts simply enough with the much-used 65.

This time it takes me beyond Richmond, even beyond Kew Gardens and on to Kew Bridge.

I could get off the other side of the bridge and save myself a little walk but the walk over the bridge is where the journey really begins and is not to be missed.

From the bridge the north bank is laid out before you revealing the path about to be followed. The river is worth looking at too!

On the far side of the bridge some icy steps take you down to the river which follows you as you continue the journey downstream.

Kew Bridge sits patiently behind you and it is worth turning back to pay it some respect before leaving it behind.

The river is very much alive along this stretch as it is teased by the tide, wind and rain.

Today it is wide, sleepy and peaceful but it has other games that it can play. The sort of games that can kill the unwary. The lifeboat at Chiswick is kept very busy.

The river is definitely grateful for the water that fills it. When the tide is lower the exposed mud embarrasses the river with its ugliness.

The passage along the Thames is marked by its bridges and having left the road bridge behind the rail bridge appears.

This was a harsh day and the seagulls were sensible enough to find protection from the cold water, even if this does mean resting on something ugly.

Peering over the raised bank on the south-side is a row of curious cottages that seem to be almost ashamed to be there.

That may be because the houses that they look at on the north-bank are somewhat grander. And they know it.

These are brazen houses that insist that you pay attention to them as you attempt to walk past.

On the south-side the houses are set back from the river and hidden behind a bank whereas on this side they sit close to the river, just the path separates the two, and they rise high and proud.

Their owners recognise the part that the houses pay in defining the character of the area and they are all well looked after, mostly by doing as little to them as possible other than maintaining the freshness of the paint.

The rail bridge that not long before defined the horizon now approaches and becomes more interesting as it does so.

The basic construction is, er, basic. The bridge has an important function to perform and that has priority.

Having achieved its structural role the bridge is free to dally in some decoration.

The railings on the spans are neatly patterned and the tops of the pillars are painted subtly. It is like a teenage boy that quietly explores his female side.

The reason for this walk, like many good walks, was a Sunday lunch in one of the pubs that take advantage of the many walkers passing. They are strung out along the path like a spider's web except that this time the flies want to be caught.

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