Tamesis Fluvius
The Thames Path from
the Source to the Thames Barrier

Hammersmith to St Paul's

Friday 21 April 2017

For the final two days on the path, we decided to make use of the fact that there were separate routes along both banks by crossing the river at a number of different places, depending on what landmarks there were to walk past or view from the opposite side. Because of this, the maps for these two sections show the river itself and path alongside it, indicating where we walked along the northern or southern bank. The route we decided on both started and finished to the north of the river, crossing four different bridges during the course of the day. Without the large green space of the previous day, it now really felt like London although apart from the occasional detour around a building, there was only one section of any significant length away from the river as we passed through Wandsworth.


Our day began taking a few photos alongside the TARDIS outside Earl's Court tube station, before making the return journey to Hammersmith to rejoin the Thames Path at the northern end of Hammersmith Bridge. We had decided to stay on the northern bank for the first section of the route, so had to start off by making our way around the building works immediately downstream from the bridge. Once we returned to the river bank, the first major landmark on the opposite side was the impressive Harrods Furniture Depository, no longer owned by the department store and now converted into residential apartments. After following the path away from the river and around Fulham FC's Craven Cottage stadium, we headed into Bishop's Park, which runs past Fulham Palace and took us to our first crossing of the day at Putney Bridge.

The path along the southern bank heads around the back of St. Mary's Church and along a residential street where the houses back directly onto the river, before moving into another green space at Wandsworth Park. At the eastern end of the park we passed some more large houseboats and then turned away from the river through a significant number of new housing developments, some recently completed and others still under construction. The path here crosses the much smaller River Wandle just as it flows into the Thames, before passing a waste recycling centre and returning to the bank of the Thames. We continued along the southern bank past yet more modern apartment blocks, eventually stopping for a rest just as we approached Albert Bridge, which would be our second river crossing of the day.


Having crossed Albert Bridge, with its notices instructing troops to break step when marching across, we picked up the northern route of the Thames Path again as it continued along Chelsea Embankment. The stretch between Albert Bridge and Chelsea Bridge provides excellent views back across the river to Battersea Park and particularly to the large and impressive Peace Pagoda which is situated half-way along the park. Passing Chelsea Bridge, we stayed on the northern bank as the route to the south requires a detour around Battersea Power Station, while the northern route gives a view of that complex as it undergoes redevelopment. Following Grosvenor Road, the path here drifts a short distance away from the river at times, with the exception of the pleasant diversion through Pimlico Gardens.

On reaching Vauxhall Bridge we had to head up to road level and cross over before returning to the riverside, where the view across to the southern bank continues to be dominated by large, modern residential buildings. Amongst them however is also the distinctive headquarters of MI6, immediately downstream of Vauxhall Bridge. We were already a considerable way through the day's route having not yet stopped for lunch, but as we made our way along Millbank we came to a perfectly situated bench looking out over Lambeth Bridge and so decided to take a break and eat there. We still had to cross the river twice more during the journey to our accommodation next to St Paul's Cathedral and after finishing lunch, we headed across Lambeth Bridge and back to the southern bank.


The journey over Lambeth Bridge provides a perfect view of both the Palace of Westminster and the London Eye and the stretch of path leading towards Westminster Bridge saw us joined for the first time by significant numbers of tourists. It was also quite a cold section of the route for us, an already overcast day now having the additional problem of a strong wind blowing down the river and turning the path into something of a wind tunnel. After taking numerous photos of the Palace of Westminster and hearing Big Ben strike 2.00 pm, we headed under Westminster Bridge and past the ever increasing mass of tourists around the London Eye. We needed to get back to the northern bank and could have crossed over one of the Golden Jubilee footbridges either side of the Hungerford Railway Bridge, but decided to remain south of the river until Waterloo Bridge.

Eventually we turned away from the river by the National Theatre and headed up what seemed to us like hundreds of steps to road level. As we crossed Waterloo Bridge, our final destination for the day of St Paul's Cathedral was now in view, as were the skyscrapers of the City of London and the tallest building in the capital, the Shard. Returning down to river level, we encountered for the first time the barriers which were being put out for the London Marathon two days later, before continuing along the Embankment and past the dragon statues which mark the boundary of the City of London. After passing under both Blackfriars road and railway bridges, we ended our day's journey at the Millennium Footbridge, turning away from the Thames and towards St Paul's where our final night's accommodation was at another Youth Hostel near to the Cathedral.