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Posts Tagged ‘not just a granny travels’

Stage 2 : Greenwich to Battersea Park 18.04.2021 – 22.01 kms – 6 hours 20 min – 38,376 steps – elevation 102 meters

As mentioned in my progress report this stage too was longer than I originally planned, but I wanted to push through as far as possible and thereby get further along and also shorten a later day’s journey.

I left home at 07:50 for the 08:16 train to London via London Bridge and onto Greenwich arriving at Greenwich station by 10:40. As I left the exit of the station I noticed an interesting art installation; a number of bicycles had been attached to the roof above my head! Cool idea!!

walking the thames path
interesting idea for unused bicycles

I set MapMyWalk and off I went…. back to the riverside for the next stage of my walk along the Thames Path, heading upstream.

First a quick visit to Cutty Sark and of course another photo LOL a daytime pic of the foot tunnel entrance and a view upstream – I’m on my way!!!

tide is out – I’m heading upstream

Having planned on walking as far as Vauxhall, due to my extra section to Greenwich yesterday, by the time I reached Vauxhall Bridge it was still relatively early so I pushed on to Battersea Park….a place I love and the District area where my paternal Grandfather was born (hence my ability to get British citizenship).

Today’s walk was no less winding and twisting than yesterday’s and there were a lot more diversions…it looks like I was drunk if you look at the gps trail LOL

When you see this configuration, you can be sure of a diversion

I was VERY pleased to note than since the last time I walked this section (2017) there was now a walkway directly along the Thames Path; and the Greenwich Reach Swing Bridge has been added to cross Deptford Creek, without having to divert along the A200. I subsequently had a look on google and apparently it was opened in 2015 (?) – but I genuinely don’t remember it being there in 2017….maybe it was closed on the day, because I do remember having to divert and walk along the busy road.

I stopped at the wonderful statue of Peter the Great and had a photo done!! 😃 we have Russian heritage from my maternal grandfather, so yeah, maybe we’re related 😉

walking the thames path
Peter the Great and Cindy the Elder 😁

Across the river was Canary Wharf. It’s amazing how often you get a view of that area as you traverse the path. Tower Bridge 4.25miles 🙂

Thames Path and Canary Wharf

Looking back I could see the masts of the Cutty Sark faintly visible on the skyline.

There were numerous diversions, one of which took me well away from the riverside and past ‘Twinkle Park’ 🙂 cute name and very pretty.

From there you take a huge diversion through Deptford and eventually walking through Sayes Court Park, Lower Pepys Park and Pepys Park where you finally meet the river again. Ugh.

On closer inspection it would appear that the original route has more recently (?) been bricked off?? I wish I could remember the route from 2017.

I’m pretty certain I remember walking through a gap in the wall, then going right along a very narrow pathway before turning left again towards Twinkle Park – perhaps I’m mistaken.

There’s a lovely tree in Sayes Court Park that I noticed; a mulberry tree believed to have been planted in John Evelyn’s garden in 1698 by the Russian Tsar, Peter the Great, who stayed in Sayes Court during his trip to England, as art of the Grand Embassy. Amazing that it hasn’t been sacrificed on the altar of progress!!

Deptford is one of the most historic areas of greater London, and so well worth a visit. a snippet: the small fishing village of Deptford became an important supply centre for the Royal Navy in the 16th century after King Henry VIII established a shipbuilding dockyard there. Around 350 Navy vessels were built in Deptford between 1545 and 1869. They wouldn’t recognise the place now!

Deptford history

At St George’s Square I noted an information board about Sir Francis Drake: Explorer Sir Francis Drake is best remembered as the first Englishman to circumnavigate the globe in his ship The Golden Hinde. Drake’s three-year voyage around the world from 1577-1580 made him one of the most famous men in Western Europe. Upon his return to Deptford, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth I. The flight of stairs leading from the river to Foreshore are consequently known as ‘Drake’s Steps’. I had a quick look and they are quite unattractive.

Drake’s steps

You can see a replica of the Golden Hinde near Southwark Cathedral.

And on I went, zig zagging back and forth through industrial, maritime and residential areas diverting back and forth. The river Thames may be 215 miles (346 km) long, but the path I’m sure, is a LOT longer!!!

Another diversion

On I went passing South Dock Rotherhithe. Rotherhithe is another incredibly historic area and worth exploring when you have the time.

I soon reached Surrey Docks Farm – it’s ever so cute and with the partial lifting of lockdown, there were a lot of people visiting and sitting out in the sun drinking tea and eating cake and things. Kids ran around and the animals seemed bewildered at all the noise after the relative quiet of lockdown. I will take my grandson here to visit in 2022.

Surrey Docks Farm, Rotherhithe

There are so many interesting places to see along this stretch of the river with lots of little creeks and docks to be navigated, and I crossed numerous small bridges.

Bridges and diversions

The bridge at Lavender Pond Nature Reserve was quite fancy and I was grateful that these crossings allow you to traverse these places without having to divert. Like Deptford, Rotherhithe has so much history it’s quite extraordinary. You will also find sculptures and maritime relics dotted at various places along the path.

Then I passed Salt Quay and was reminded of the times I’ve stayed at the YHA nearby on many of my previous trips to London. It’s a perfect location for fantastic views of the river, and very close to Tower Bridge should you decide to walk alongside the river into central London.

Salt Quay, Rotherhithe

Here, beneath your feet you will find the Rotherhithe Tunnel, although you don’t actually see it since it passes below ground. I was excited to reach Cumberland Wharf Park because I knew what I would find; one of my favourite sculptures – The Pilgrim’s Pocket. An adorable sculpture of a Man (pilgrim) and a boy reading the Sunshine Weekly. Needless to say I took a lot of photos….I have lost count of how many photos I have of this sculpture!! There are story boards telling more about the history, well worth a read.

Next up the Brunel Museum. A small but fascinating museum, and especially if you go on the tour of the shaft. I remember when it opened many years ago, I was one of the first to visit with the rest of the group. We had to climb down some rickety stairs and scaffolding. Quite the adventure, but ever so much fun. Not for the fainthearted or people with a fear of heights. The Midnight Apothecary was open for bookings…socially distanced of course. Also a fun event if you’re with a good crowd.

Brunel Museum, Rotherhithe

Just a few metres along is the famous Mayflower Pub. It is said that the pilgrim fathers sailed from a dock nearby on the ship of the same name; The Mayflower. Mayflower was an English ship that transported a group of English families known today as the Pilgrims from England to the New World in 1620. After a gruelling 10 weeks at sea, Mayflower, with 102 passengers and a crew of about 30, reached America, dropping anchor near the tip of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, on November 21, 1620. ref wikipedia

Mayflower Pub, Rotherhithe

And then a short walk and opposite is St Mary’s Rotherhithe. I stopped to say ‘hello’. Master Christopher Jones Jr. Captain of the 1620 voyage of the Pilgrim ship Mayflower. He did however die in Rotherhithe, 5 March 1622 (52 years of age) and is buried in the church. After Christopher Jones died in 1622 the Mayflower lay idle on the mud flats of the River Thames near Rotherhithe and was reported in many books to be a “rotting hulk”. A sad end for a famous ship.

Back at the riverside you can see Tower Bridge (hoorah), The Shard, the the towers of London, as well as the bloody awful Walkie Talkie building. What a monstrosity. urgh. At this point I decided that since it was 1pm my feet deserved a rest and my belly some food. I tend to not eat much when walking, and neglect to feed the old belly. I had literally just reached the King’s Stairs Gardens where I could see lots of people stretched out on the grassy knoll, all sensibly socially-distanced of course, so made my way to the top of the mound and reclined on the grass, shoes and socks off and jacket under my head. I enjoyed my small picnic – same fare as the day before. Then I had a quick shut eye.

Is there anything more pleasant than lying on the grass in the sunshine

Setting off again at 2pm I made my way past The Angel Pub and stopped (for the gazillionth time) at the remnants of King Edward III’s Manor House. It’s super awesome to find these links with the past and brilliant that they survive and have not been ripped up for a block of flats.

King Edward III Manor House

Then I paid a visit to Dr Salter and family…a very sad story; his only daughter Alice died in 1910 at the age of 8 from scarlet fever. If you’ve never heard of Dr. Alfred Salter, it’s worth reading up on him and his wife…amazing couple.

Doctor Salter’s Daydream

From here again we have various diversions due to industrial development at the riverside, but in this instance it gives you the opportunity to walk past The Old Justice pub where Sir Paul McCartney, MBE, musician & songwriter, used the interiors and exteriors of this public house as locations in his film “Give My Returns to Broad Street” and for the music video to his hit single “No More Lonely Nights”.

Old Justice Pub & Paul McCartney

I occasionally encountered the Thames Tideway Tunnel construction sites and not too far along was another such. They’re mostly boarded up, but there are terrific information boards telling you about what they’re doing and why. Moving sewerage is the short answer!! LOL It’s quite an enormous enterprise really, but then Greater London does host quite a lot of people. I stopped to study the maps for a bit and to marvel at just how long the Thames River is.

The Harpy Houseboat looked resplendent in red and blue as I whizzed on by, eager now to reach Tower Bridge. The crossing at St Saviour’s Dock was thankfully open or I’d have had another diversion to navigate.

And voila Butler’s Wharf. A truly superb place with lots of little restaurants, interesting sculptures, maritime relics and of course a fab view of Tower Bridge, and when the tide is out, a little beach to do some mud-larking.

Butler’s Wharf and Tower Bridge

Hiding away in Courage Yard is the delightful sculptural fountain – ‘Waterfall’ by Antony Donaldson. Shad Thames is another fantastic place to while away the time.

Waterfall, Courage Yard

Finally I reached the bridge and promptly bought a much needed soft-serve ice-cream with flake – of course LOL. The time was now 14:35 and I had left Greenwich Station at 10:40. 3 hours of walking….not too bad eh.

Tower Bridge – 1st of many bridges from London to Hampton Court

A short video showing various features along the Thames Path between Greenwich and Tower Bridge.

After a short break I set off once again. How lucky I was to have such amazing weather!!

From here I pretty much photographed ALL the main attractions and ALL the bridges LOL I won’t share them all (“Whew”, I hear you say 😁😁)…instead I’ve created a short video so you can see some of the amazing places along the banks of the Thames from Tower Bridge to Lambeth Bridge.

Of course I had to stop and capture an image of another of my favourite London sculptures; The Navigators, David Kemp at Hay’s Galleria.

The Navigators, Hay’s Galleria

Approaching London Bridge I chose to walk the back streets and past Southwark Cathedral, but first my favourite quote:

“There are two things scarce matched in the universe; the sun in heaven, and the Thames on the earth.” Sir Walter Raleigh.

By now I was walking through another favourite area; Southwark – soooo much history it’s mind-blowing. Southwark Cathedral, The Golden Hinde, Winchester Place, The Clink Prison, The Anchor Pub (from whence Samuel Pepys observed The Great Fire of London in 1666), The Globe Theatre and then Tate Modern. By now I had a fab view of St Paul’s Cathedral. I was dying to cross the river for a quick visit….but time was marching on, so I did too. Next time.

St Paul’s Cathedral, City of London

An ever so popular area in front of the Tate Modern where you can usually catch a busker or watch the chaps with their bubbles, which the kiddies love.

We all love bubbles

I tried walking along the South Bank, but it was incredibly busy and I felt quite crowded out. I got as far as Waterloo Bridge before deciding I’d had quite enough of the crowds thank you – but first a photo of the famous open air book market.

Waterloo Bridge book market – not much social distancing going on there!

Crossing the river to the north bank

Downstream from Waterloo Bridge

I snuck into the Victoria Embankment Gardens. Ever so glad I did…..it was a haven of tranquillity and ablaze with splendid colour. The flower beds here in spring time are absolutely marvellous with hundreds of colourful tulips.

I stopped for a brief respite and to snack while enjoying the late afternoon sunshine and peace, another of my favourite sculptures nearby; The Memorial to Arthur Sullivan by William Goscombe John. It’s ever so beautiful.

Alfred Sullivan memorial in Victoria Embankment Gardens

Then off again…still on the north bank till I reached Westminster Bridge where I returned to the South Bank. Along the way passing two of my favourite memorials; The Battle of Britain and Boudicca, and the White Lion sculpture at Westminster Bridge.

I stopped to take a pic of Big Ben but it’s mostly covered with cladding…oh well. I’ve got ‘hundreds’ of photos of the tower!!

Once more across the river, opposite, the Houses of Parliament / Palace of Westminster looked dark and menacing – the sun was at just that angle.

Houses of Parliament, Westminster

I then followed the Albert Embankment towards Vauxhall Bridge.

Just outside St Thomas’s Hospital I noticed hundreds of hearts with names and dates painted along the wall of St Thomas’s Hospital boundary and thought “oh how lovely” without realising the significance. I was struck dumb and reduced to tears when I realised that is was a Covid-19 memorial and all those names I could see were of people who had died from the virus. It was shattering 💔💔💔

Covid-19 memorial, Albert Embankment

After pausing for a few minutes to pay my respects, I continued towards Lambeth Bridge where I passed Lambeth Palace; home to the Archbishop of Canterbury. That never makes sense to me…..he lives in London? – Canterbury is in Kent near the coast?? Like the Palace of Winchester in Southwark?? Daft.

Lambeth Palace

I was now passing through Nine Elms and making good progress. Passing the International Maritime Organisation I stopped for a quick pic of the International Memorial to Seafarers – Sculpture by Michael Sandle at the International Maritime Organisation.

International Memorial to Seafarers

At 16:51 I reached Vauxhall Bridge.

Diversion at Vauxhall

Due to the path being obstructed by apartment blocks, MI6 and of course further along the old Battersea Power Station on the next section of the river, I crossed over the river to the north bank at Vauxhall Bridge

I had a fab view of MI6 – you know James’s Bond’s old haunt!! Back in the City of Westminster I popped into the small Pimlico Gardens where I saw an interesting sculpture; The Helmsman – by Andre Wallace. These sculptures always fascinate me…the mind of an artist!!! How they visualise these things is just amazing.

The Helmsman

Not too much further and I was passing Battersea Power Station. I have to admit that I find it really strange to look at now with all the new developments that surround it.

Ex-Battersea Power Station

And boom!!! 17:27 and I could see Chelsea Bridge just ahead of me! Looking back I had a fine view of the downstream skyline as well as the Battersea Power Station and the Grosvenor Railway Bridge.

Chelsea Bridge

And then finally I was crossing the river towards Battersea Park and reached the Chelsea Gate at just on 17:36 ! Hoorah. To my surprise the Thames Path makes it’s way through the park, so following the signs I made my way towards Rosery Gate and the station…home time!!!

I switched mapmywalk off when I reached the platform: 6 hours, 19 minutes and 46 seconds LOL

The Shard, London Bridge – I’m on my way home

What a terrific day. Boy my feet were sore….. but although my feet were aching (38,376 steps!!) my heart was full of joy! I just love London and the day was absolutely glorious. I could not have wished for a better day. Stage 2 done and dusted. I then had a two day break; time with the family, before picking up again on 21st for Stage 3…..watch this space 🙂 Battersea Park to Richmond.

In case you missed the previous 2 posts:

Stage 1a – Walking the Thames Path; Erith to the Thames Barrier

Stage 1b – Walking the Thames Path; Thames Barrier to Greenwich

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Stage 1 (b) : Thames Barrier to Greenwich 17.04.2021 – 9.21 kms – 2 hours 34 min – 15,763 steps – elevation: 32 meters

Leaving the Thames Barrier at just on 15:13 I made my way through the covered walkway, the barrier to my right. Along the concrete wall of the walkway they have noted some interesting facts and show the level of the river with the barrier closed, on 2 particular dates. Further along is a carved mural, ‘A Profile of the River Thames’, showing the many names of towns, bridges, locks and places of interest from sea to source along the River Thames with the relevant elevation above sea-level. I tried to photograph as many as I could. It was so cool to see the names of places I had already passed and the names of places still to come….most of which as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve already encountered. After Staines the elevation increases quite substantially.

LOL I just had a look for some information on Google maps, and the barrier is described as “Giant moveable dam with a visitor centre”. OMG seriously. Google you need to get educated!! If you go to wikipedia you will see that: The Thames Barrier is one of the largest movable flood barriers in the world… not a ruddy dam!! The Thames Barrier spans 520 metres across the River Thames near Woolwich, and protects 125 square kilometres of central London from flooding caused by tidal surges. Ref http://www.gov.uk

The Thames Barrier - walking the Thames Path
The Thames Barrier – walking the Thames Path

I soon left the tunnel and the first of many markers along the route told me that it was 4.5miles (7.2kms) to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. The barrier really is a remarkable construction. A couple more photos of the barrier as it receded into the distance and my history, and all too soon I reached the Tarmac Charlton Asphalt Plant. Ugly industrial plant with unattractive fencing and lots of metal shutes jutting out into the river. This is a very industrialised section of the path; much like downstream near Erith.

walking the thames path
Ugly concrete works next to the Thames Path

The Thames Barrier was now 1 mile behind me and Cutty Sark 2.25miles ahead. Whoo hoo, not that far. But I was beginning to flag, my feet were starting to make uncomfortable noises and I still had the O2 peninsula to traverse.

walking the thames path
Well marked route – you cannot get lost

Along this section of the river too there are a lot of information boards providing snippets of history and information about the area in relation to the river

walking the thames path
Story board telling you more about the area and features of the path

I passed the ever so pretty and welcome Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park; a tiny piece of watery paradise. I strolled along a couple of the boardwalks for a closer look and then…onwards

walking the thames path
Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park – a delightful haven of nature

Occasionally I stopped to look back at how far I had come. Looking ahead I could see the Greenwich Cable Car structure in the distance…and whilst I walked debated the folly/fun of stopping for a ride across the river. When I got closer to the entrance, the queue of people waiting to get on decided me – another time. I’ve ridden it a few times in the past, so not missing out on anything. But it would have been lovely to share an aerial view of the river with you.

walking the thames path
as I got closer I toyed with the idea of having a ride….I didn’t LOL

A very well marked path

walking the thames path
useful to know the distances to the next place

I could see Anthony Gormley’s ‘Quantum Cloud’ in the distance getting closer with each step. That man sure does get around, but at least it’s not another image of his naked body and bits!! LOL

walking the thames path
Quantum Cloud – Anthony Gormley

I passed some more storyboards showing a timeline of the history of the river from 8,000 BC till more current times, and included interesting snippets of events worldwide that occurred during the same period. It’s fascinating to read these boards and I wished I had more time to stop and read them all, but the clock was moving forward at a pace, so I had to up my pace if I wanted to actually get to Greenwich in time for a train to get me home before midnight!!

There are a lot of new residential developments in Greenwich and as I neared the O2 I passed a very large complex of new (to me) high-rise buildings, in front of one of which was a stunning sculpture of a Mermaid and what looks like a sea-dragon wrapped a round her, but on closer inspection appears to be the sea rolled around her form. It’s absolutely beautiful. Apparently it is one of Damien Hurst’s sculptures and is located on The Tide (a free-to-visit five-kilometre elevated walkway) – and an improvement on some of the stuff he’s done in the past.

walking the thames path
absolutely stunning sculpture

Soon I reached the O2 arena and had a quick look around. Not much has changed here except that the fountains were not playing. I stopped briefly to photograph a couple of the flagstones that are inscribed with information like: 4282 km to the North Pole – Across England sea and ice. Or By the time you have read this the earth will have spun you 1450m.

Walking the Thames path
By the time you have read this…

And At 11:06hrs on the 17th May each year the mast shadow is centred on this stone. Of course I had to photograph ‘The Mast’ too; a tall swirling spike steel sculpture about which I have not been able to find ANY information regardless of my numerous Google searches. If you happen to know…please leave a comment. Also, I’m not entirely sure it is The Mast, but since I couldn’t see anything else that looked like a mast…

walking the thames path
I wonder what they’ll do if the earth shifts on it’s axis? move the stone?

I could see there was a line of people climbing the O2 which reminded me of when I climbed the O2 some years ago – a gift from my daughter, it was amazing. I wonder if I could still climb it today LOL I’d love to take my grandson up.

walking the thames path
Climbing the O2 – a brilliant outing if you have a head for heights and strong legs LOL

I then passed a really weird looking sculpture ‘Liberty Grip’ by Gary Hume. It was while researching this particular image that I found a site listing all the sculptures that these sculptures are part of: The Line – London’s first dedicated contemporary art walk. It looks amazing and I shall have to visit again and do the walk (of course). I’ve included the link here if you are interested in finding out more about these sculptures on the Greenwich Peninsula

walking the thames path
there are plenty of sculptures along the Thames Path, some fab some weird

The Thames Path along these sections is brilliant; well paved, clean, attractive, lots of beautiful buildings, green lawns, trees and tidal terraces alongside the edges of the river – I found this really interesting link if you’re keen to find out more Estuary Edges along the River Thames. It seems that the powers that be are starting to take more care of the river and the wildlife that inhabit it.

walking the thames path
much needed regeneration of the Thames Banks and river
walking the thames path
you can see the reeds beds to the right. It’s really interesting how they install them

Another decorative National Cycle Route marker

walking the thames path
I love these cycle route markers…I have a whole collection of them photographed

Not long after I left the O2 Arena area I came upon an open tarmac area next to the Greenwich Peninsula Golf Range, and congregated thereupon was a massive group of cyclists, of varying ages; teens to tweens I’m guessing. All very boisterous, crowding and shoving and shouting, and there in the middle were 2 young girls in skimpy outfits doing a ‘Grease’ scenario, right down to the colourful handkerchiefs… and at the far end a row of cyclists lined up – I chuckled to myself as I made my way through the throng, heckled every step of the way for not observing their desire to race along the pathway, and not getting out the way. Sorry boys, places to go, things to see.

walking the thames path
Grease is the word LOL

The next Thames Path marker told me that I was now 1.25 miles from the Cutty Sark and the Foot Tunnel and 6 miles from Tower Bridge – I was tempted to keep going to Tower Bridge, but it was late and by now I was seriously footsore.

walking the thames path
Tower Bridge 6 m! should I? or maybe not!

The path twists and turns as it winds it’s snaking way through all manner of landscape. If nothing else, the path offers a varied landscape.

walking the thames path
shared space; walkers, cyclists, joggers, runners….and a narrow corridor..

I saw someone fishing, very comfortably too I might add from a bench, and just around a leafy green corner I spotted a young woman sitting on an open space just over the fence and on the banks of the river…it looked so tranquil and perfect that I could have happily joined her. A terrific place to sit and read a book.

walking the thames path
the perfect place to chill and read a book

And yet another variation, around every corner a surprise

walking the thames path
I love it when the path is wide and well-paved

Looking back I could see the O2 Arena now some distance behind me and across the river the Towers of Babel aka Canary Wharf.

walking the thames path
looking back is an optical illusion. The O2 looks close as the crow flies

And thennnnn…whoo hoo – Greenwich!!! I had made it. I reached the Cutty Sark Pub at 17:03:54 🙂 And now it was getting really busy. People thronged the path, now a wide boulevard rather than a path, strollers, dog-walkers, parents with strollers, kiddies running around screaming, joggers, cyclists (trying to weave their way through the throng), all out enjoying the lovely afternoon sunshine. It was truly one of London’s best days.

walking the thames path
whoo hoo not far to go now. Love the old buildings in Greenwich – just look at that date
walking the thames path
lovely to see so many people out again

I passed a brick wall with some intriguing sculptures telling a story about a boy named Sam – I did some research and found that it’s ‘A Thames Tale’ : Wall art by Amanda Hinge in Greenwich. It’s really lovely and I wish I’d had more time to read it all.

I then passed the diminutive Trinity Hospital with the towering Greenwich Electric Power Station just behind it. Apparently named the ‘Heavenly Twins’ for the two great chimneys…although there are in fact 4 chimneys.

walking the thames path
nearly 5.10pm and look it’s still light…best time of the year to walk

I meandered along a narrow cobbled pathway between old brick houses; looking for all the world like I had stepped back in time to the Victorian ages. You could just imagine the gas lamps flickering and fluttering at night in the wind. Did I ever say how much I love Greenwich?

walking the thames path
Imagine living on a street that looks like it’s straight out of Mary Poppins
walking the thames path
colourful painting on the Trafalgar Tavern wall

I soon passed The Trafalgar Tavern and a statue of himself; Horatio Nelson, hero of the Battle of Gibraltar. The Battle of Trafalgar took place on 21 October 1805 during the Napoleonic War (1803–1815), as Napoleon Bonaparte and his armies tried to conquer Europe. Unfortunately Nelson met his Waterloo at this battle and was shot by an enemy sniper when he stepped out on deck to survey the battle. ref wikipedia.

walking the thames path
Hello Nelson! how nice to see you…means I’m nearly at journey’s end

Once again I stopped to look back at how far I had come. Distance is an optical illusion at many points along the River Thames as is coils and winds it’s way through London, and although you cover many miles from point A to B, the distance looks less, due to the shape of the river. Apparently, due to of the bends of the river, the Greenwich waterfront is as long as 8.5 miles.

Walking the Thames path
Far away downstream…

Royal Greenwich! Oh how much I love this place. One of London’s 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Greenwich has a history as long as your arm or longer…. it has seen kings and queens, pirates and heroes, played a part in WW1 and WW2 and hosted a palace where one of England’s most notorious kings; Henry VIII was born. There are scant remains of the Palace of Placentia, and today the fabulous Royal Naval College stands above the area.

walking the thames path
Hoorah! Greenwich – oodles of history on that direction marker

Royal Greenwich is home to time; the Greenwich Meridian – the location of the Greenwich prime meridian, on which all Coordinated Universal Time is based. The prime meridian running through Greenwich and the Greenwich Observatory is where the designation Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT began, and on which all world times are based. I’ve met the Meridian Line in a couple of places, namely; Oxted – a market town in Surrey, along The Pilgrim’s Way on the North Downs, and near Richmond on the Thames Path.

Royal Greenwich, with a plethora of Grade 1 and Grade 2 listed buildings, museums, the Royal Observatory (Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke), The Naval College (designed by Christopher Wren), The Queen’s House (by Inigo Jones), and the Cutty Sark along with dozens of other places of interest, has so much to offer that you need multiple visits to make the most of it all. It even has 2 castles nearby: Vanbrugh Castle, and Severndroog Castle and a palace: Eltham Palace (fabulous place, you must visit). There are numerous churches to visit, one of which, designed by the famous architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, is St Alfege. In Charles Dickens’s novel Our Mutual Friend, Bella Wilfer marries John Rokesmith in St Alfege Church. The medieval church which stood there before the current 18th century church was dedicated to St Alfege who was martyred by the Danes on 19th April 1012. Henry VIII was baptized there in 1491.

walking the thames path
where once staood a palace…Royal Naval College, Greenwich

History enough to satisfy any history buff.

walking the thames path
a superb museum if you’re visiting. absolutely brilliant maritime objects they have

The evening was absolutely beautiful and it was so lovely to see some many people about…

walking the thames path
perfect evening to be relaxing at the riverside

And then the beautiful, most famous, sometimes ill-fated, and celebrated tall-mast sailing ship; the Cutty Sark, a Victorian tea clipper – sitting resplendent above her glass enclosed dome – looking for all the world as if she is sailing the open seas once more.

walking the thames path
the ever so beautiful Cutty Sark, an icon

Nearby are the famous glass-domed Greenwich Foot Tunnels constructed between 1899 and 1902; still used today and linking Greenwich with Millwall on the opposite bank of the river. It’s a must visit, even just for the thrill of walking beneath the riverbed.

Walking the Thames path
If you can’t walk over it, walk beneath it

It was now 17:19, the sun was beginning to set, so I decided at this juncture to end my journey here and pick it up again on the morrow.

Walking the Thames path
The Greenwich Foot Tunnel

I meandered a bit taking photos of the things I’ve photographed dozens of times before LOL and then I went on the hunt for food…although there are a number of brands; coffee shops and restaurants scattered about, I am loathe to use the big chains for my meals whilst walking and prefer instead to use independents or smaller chains.

First I wandered through the food market on the raised area near the Cutty Sark but saw nothing that was of interest, so strolled along the streets until there, at the traffic lights near the market I spied Jack the Chipper! I am an old fashioned girl at heart when it comes to food, and love nothing more than a hefty portion of fresh hot chips, and that is just what I got – the chips had literally just come out of the fryer, so I ordered a ‘small’ box of hot chips to go. I got more than I bargained for and there was enough for two….but guess what? I ate them all LOL nothing like walking for 6 hours to build up and appetite.

I made my way to St Alfege’s church which was just around the corner and there I sat in the graveyard, the setting sun warm on my shoulders and enjoyed my delicious box of hot chips. Yum! Thus ended Stage 1 of my journey along the Thames Path; in a graveyard…but not permanently LOL

walking the thames path
Jack the Chipper…..whenever I visit Greenwich I will be sure to buy my meal here

By the time I finished eating it was just after 6pm, so I set off for the station…time to go home, have a hot shower and fall into bed.

Enroute to the station I quickly dashed across the road to photograph the rather marvellous sundial on the corner and then it was off to the station where I caught the 18:17 train home via STP.

walking the thames path
in the mean time; Greenwich Mean Time 🙂 loved this
Greenwich Mean Time – love a good sundial

Stage 1 done and dusted – What a marvellous day and I’m SO glad that I decided to walk onto Greenwich from the Thames Barrier, it was a most satisfactory day/distance and brought my total from home to station (and the reverse) and station to station Erith to Greenwich to: 27.08 kms (16.93 miles) – 6 hours 47 min – 41,812 steps – elevation: 46 meters to be precise. Not too shabby really.

Stage 2: Greenwich to Vauxhall Bridge (or further if I can) – post to follow shortly

Postscript: I had planned on doing 6 stages from Erith to Staines-Upon-Thames, but by adding on the section from The Thames Barrier to Greenwich, and again for Stage 2 going further from Vauxhall to Battersea Park, I managed to the distance in 5 stages from Erith to Staine-Upon-Thames. But more on that to follow.

Quote: “If you go to London now, not everything is beautiful, but it’s amazingly better than it was. And the Thames is certainly a lot better; there are fish in the Thames”. Freeman Dyson.

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Stage 1a : Erith to the Thames Barrier 17.04.2021 – 15.37 kms – 4 hours 13 min – 26,049 steps – elevation: 46 meters

Lunch packed, Gemini (walking poles) ready to go with their new feet

I left home in time to get the 08:20 train from RAM to Erith by 10:27, although we arrived a few minutes earlier at 10:20. It’s a long, slow journey and unfortunately not the High Speed with it’s phone charger adaptors, so I sat back and stared out the window…😝😝

Arriving at Erith station I set MapMyWalk to start recording and made my way to the riverside. The walk took me through the suburban jungle, but all was quiet and I only saw a few other people about. Lockdown is still clearly in effect in Erith.

I reached the riverside in about 7 minutes and took some time to photograph the pretty little park and the deep channels forged into the mudflats.

Walking the Thames path
Scenes of the River Thames at Erith

The tide was out so the riverbed was exposed in all it’s glory….or not. The trash as I mentioned in my previous post was there for all to see as it made it’s way out to sea. Ugh

walking the Thames Path
heading upstream – finally I am on the Thames Path; Thamesmead, Woolwich, Greenwich

Heading upstream (of course) I followed the well-marked, albeit ugly concrete pathway that wound it’s tortuous way past rotting jetties, old dilapidated buildings, urban dwellings, construction works, razor wire fences and the many industries that rely on the river for their business…whatever that may be. These concrete and metallic surfaces are not good for the feet (or shoes – I’m on my 2nd pair in 6 months! At £70 a pop…I feel like I’m working to buy shoes 🤪🤪)

walking the Thames Path
a tortuous path of concrete and metal

The tediously grey landscape was relieved by a couple of colourful mosaics, sadly damaged, that told of a ‘wildlife superhighway’ and depicted the variety of creatures that make the edges and the waters of the Thames their home.

walking the Thames Path
a pretty, albeit damaged mural depicting the wildlife that live in and on the banks of the River Thames

A few modern windmills (turbines) dotted the landscape and the Crossness Nature Reserve offered a welcome relief to the grey industrial landscape. I spotted a bird-watcher walking around with a enormous camera and tripod over his shoulder.

walking the Thames Path
Crossness Nature Reserve – a welcome relief from the brutal industrialisation

And then the Gadwells as mentioned in my prelude…they really looked as if they were having a wonderful time.

walking the Thames Path
Gadwells enjoying a chemical bath – you can barely see them, but there were dozens

I passed very few walkers or cyclists and a few passed me by. The cyclists do race along, and you can’t walk around a blind corner without checking that a boy racer isn’t about to slam into you! At least most of the regular cyclists ring their bells to warn you of their approach. 🙌🙌🔔

walking the Thames Path
boy racer – cyclists can be a menace, they do race along at speed

I absolutely loved the sketches that hung on the walls at intervals, they provided an interesting view of the river over the centuries. The Crossness Pathway information boards too were so interesting to read.

walking the Thames Path
development of the Thames over the centuries

The sewerage farm is best left unspoken about LOL but I loved the apparently abandoned Victorian building on the site. Clearly progress has been made! or not? Built by Joseph Bazalgette in 1865 it contains the largest rotative beam engines in the world and is a Grade I listed building (probably a good thing or progress would have bashed it down by now). It’s function was not that great…it used to pump south London’s untreated sewerage into the Thames 🤮🤮 – the old Crossness Pumping station. This was built as part of the development of London’s sewer systems and operated from 1865 until the 1950s. The engines used to pump sewage directly into the Thames at high tide, the idea being the tide would then carry the sewage out to sea as the river level reduced in the city centre. Ewwww. Good idea…feed it to the fishes that we then eat. 🤢🤢

walking the Thames Path
sewerage plant – new and old
walking the Thames Path
Sludge incinerator, Crossness Sewage Treatment Works

The trash dumped alongside the edges of the river is quite simply appalling. Perhaps the new London Mayor can be petitioned to get a crew in to clean it up!! Although Lord knows it’s an never-ending issue, the more you clear away, the more the numbskulls dump their trash…wherever they please.

walking the Thames Path
pollution on the riverbanks of the Thames…so sad

The nature of the path changes continuously and whilst I didn’t photograph each and every difference in the path, I captured a few for interest….

The closer I got to the Thames Barrier and Greater London, the more greenery made it’s appearance and occassionally I walked alongside trees and grass which provided a welcome relief from the grey dull concrete.

Suddenly as I rounded a bend in the river, there in the distance, on the horizon, I could see the towers of Babel…I mean Canary Wharf! Hoorah!! I’m getting closer. The river up to the Thames Barrier is really wide and with the tide out you could probably walk along sections of the riverbed. Although after my experience with the mudflats at Faversham, I wouldn’t recommend it 😁😁

This seemed like a good place to have a snack, so I spread my eats out and rested here for a while, just enjoying the view and the sunshine.

walking the Thames Path
a good place to stop for a snack – Canary Wharf in the distance

I passed an apartment block at Thamesmead that had a row of four cannon mounted on a ledge leading down to the path. I love seeing these remnants of London’s past history.

walking the Thames Path
warding off the enemy? Cannons at Thamesmead

Next up, the navigation light at Tripcock Ness, and this is where navigation takes on a more serious element and the area has a tragic history; in 1878 Tripcock Ness was the site of the sinking of the Princess Alice after a collision with another vessel that resulted in the loss of over 650 lives.

walking the Thames Path
Tripcock Ness
walking the Thames Path
life on the river gets serious from here onwards

The opposite side of the river is no less industrialised and wherever you look there are jetties jutting out into the river with large container ships moored alongside, tall cranes and buildings line the banks.

walking the Thames Path
the river is wide, the river is deep….the tide was coming in by this stage

As previously mentioned I passed a number of National Cycle Network markers. They are all individually decorated and show distance to places behind or in front of you. Useful if there are no Thames Path markers… albeit not much use when they tell you how far it is to Inverness!!! 😉

walking the Thames Path
National Cycle Network – very useful for distances and directions 🙂 and they’re all so decorative

From this point on, Thamesmead, the area became more residential than industrial and frankly some of the places were so lovely I wouldn’t mind living there myself…the views across the river must be amazing, and a terrific vantage point for watching events like the Tall Ships arriving, or cruise ships leaving.

walking the Thames Path
the path wends it’s way through a suburban jungle

Soon I arrived at Royal Arsenal/Woolwich. One of my favourite places along the Thames Path and I’ve visited a number of times in the past, as well as walked past on my Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales walk from Southwark Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral in 2017.

walking the Thames Path
Royal Arsenal, Woolwich – fire power; remnants of history

There is so much to see in Royal Arsenal Woolwich, with an incredible history, and you could easily while away the day here. Sadly the fantastic Firepower Museum is no longer located here and has been move to a site close to Stonehenge in Wiltshire. If ever you are out that way, I can recommend a visit….it’s marvellous. But I digress.

walking the Thames Path
Guard Houses at Royal Arsenal, Woolwich

I didn’t tarry long and after taking a few photos of the many cannons and big guns littering the historic waterfront, Anthony Gormley’s ‘Assembly’ and the 1815 Riverside Guardhouses (Guardhouses were built at points on the perimeter; one at the main gate (1787–1788) and a pair by the new wharf circa 1814–1815 are still in place today). One is now a small restaurant and the other a flower shop.

walking the Thames Path
– Anthony Gormley at Woolwich

I continued upstream on my journey towards the Thames Barrier.

There was an interesting little sculpture on top of a wall ‘Elephants are people’. I saw quite a few of these as I progressed. Heading over to Google I entered a few key words and voila, found this site elephants are people

walking the Thames Path
Elephants are People

I noticed a beautiful plaque inserted in the paving ‘Millenium Heritage Trail’. I love discovering little features like this.

walking the Thames Path
Historic Woolwich – a fantastic place to explore

Next up, a (new since I was last there), development of apartment blocks. At least the developers have gone some way to making it look attractive with an array of fountains in the forecourt. On the opposite side are another set of many-storied apartment blocks being built.

walking the Thames Path
Urban landscapes along the Thames Path

Soon I passed the ferry and encountered my first annoying diversion: ‘footpath closed’. Ugh!! I loathe those developers that buy up tracts of land right up to the riverside and build something or other right at the edge…so inconsiderate and I cursed them 😤😤🧙‍♀️ This closed footpath required a diversion along a busy road (by the amount of traffic, you could tell – lockdown is well and truly over in Woolwich).

walking the Thames Path
Don’t pay the ferry man till he gets you to the other side?? – I wonder if that would work?
walking the Thames Path
ugh.

Back at the riverside, I stopped briefly to chat to a couple of ladies who were walking jauntily along. I asked them where they were heading, and where they started….Erith!! Crikey. They left more or less the same time as I did, how did I not see them before? Anyway, they had decided that morning, on impulse, to walk to Greenwich from Erith. No prior training and wearing sandals. LOL eish. I would not want to know how they felt the next day…

Then to my delight not much further on I spied the world famous Thames Barrier – still a fair way off but getting closer.

walking the Thames Path
the river is wide, the river is deep

I had to pass through an industrial estate, but fortunately they had some marvellous storyboards lining the building…so I stopped briefly for a read. At this point the Thames Path winds it way through residential and industrial.

walking the Thames Path
dull, ugly industrial landscapes

And at 14:16:40 I arrived at the Thames Barrier! Hoorah! After searching for the public toilets, thankfully open, I made my way to the benches that line the grassy area in front of the riverside facing the Thames Barrier and had some lunch.

walking the Thames Path
Hoorah! The Thames Barrier
walking the Thames Path
lunch at the Thames Barrier

Afterwards I made myself comfortable on the benches next to the building that houses some of the mechanics of the barrier, removed my shoes and socks, put my jacket under my head and had a 30 minute snooze. Bliss.

The day was absolutely gorgeous and since I was still well early and not in the mood to head home just yet, I decided there and then to continue to Greenwich, or as far as my feet would take me. So to that end at 15:13:16 I captured the immortal sign: ‘Thames Path National Trail – 180 miles from the Thames Barrier to the river’s source’ – and then some, if you count the dispute about where the true source is: Kemble or Seven Springs. I’m going to opt for both and after I’ve been to Cricklade/Kemble (eventually) I’m planning on walking the next 31 miles over 2 days to Seven Springs.

walking the Thames Path
walking the Thames Path – 180 miles form Thames Barrier to the river’s source

Without further ado, I set off towards Greenwich. It had been a most satisfactory day so far and I was pleased with the distance I had travelled: 15.37 kms (9.6 miles) – 4 hours 13 min

Walking the Thames Path – Stage 1b to follow shortly : Thames Barrier to Greenwich.

postscript: I had planned on putting my ‘mileage’ towards my Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania – 97.1km) Virtual Challenge, but by the end of Stage 5, because I had walked so much further than expected, I put the km towards The Cabot Trail (Canada – 299.4km). So, although I didn’t walk the full length of the Thames Path (294kms/184miles) this time around, I will add my walks along the Saxon Shore Way and the English Coast Path when I get to do them.

One thing I do want to note in retrospect is that walking the Thames Path sounds very romantic, and you mostly see images on the net or blogs of previous walkers, showing the pretty rural villages and meadows or attractive cities that the Thames flows through, from source to sea, but you seldom see the reality of the downstream areas. You kinda get this idea that the path is a pretty, perhaps dusty but attractive route that follows the river as it wends it’s way downstream…and on the upper reaches it certainly does pass through some gorgeous villages, but without doubt there are a lot of residential and business properties too, and there are some really ugly and very unpleasant areas as you near the estuary.

walking the Thames Path
walking the Thames Path is not always pretty

Quote: Below us the Thames grew lighter, and all around below were the shadows – the dark shadows of buildings and bridges that formed the base of this dreadful masterpiece. Ernie Pyle

You do occasionally get a little splash of colour to relive the grey…nature always finds a way

walking the Thames Path
walking the Thames Path

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Hello…and welcome. Thanks for dropping by. I ‘may’ have mentioned before that I planned to walk the Thames Path to celebrate my 66th birthday, retirement age in the UK and the start of the next phase of my life. Not that I’m planning on actually retiring, but the government does start to give me some of my NI money back 😉 and I do plan to work less and spend more time with my grandson and travelling….gradually the two will be combined.

Ever since my daughter and I lived in Richmond I’ve dreamed of walking the full length of the River Thames, or as much of it as is possible.

“There are two things scarce matched in the universe, the sun in heaven, and the Thames on the earth.” Sir Walter Raleigh.

Over the years I have certainly walked many, many stretches of the Thames between Woolwich and Hampton Court. But the last time I walked the lower reaches of the Thames Path was back in 2017 when I walked Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route from Southwark Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral. Although his actual route follows Jamaica Road, I felt that if Chaucer had the option, he would have walked alongside the river rather than clatter along a polluted road, so that’s what I did.

Further to my previous post – the Progress Report, as promised I will start posting what will be 5 posts detailing the start of my journey along the Thames Path. I will mostly share images, because seriously, this river is so gorgeous and holds a really special place in my heart, as well as which she has a long and illustrious history (which I will only touch on briefly for interest sake at certain points. Hopefully the images will give you a fairly good idea of what the Thames Path looks like. Ultimately I will share the follow on stages from Staines-Upon-Thames as and when I get to do them.

The Thames Path is listed as one of the official National Trails in the UK, all denoted with the instantly recognisable acorn symbol.

I was well impressed with the markings and sign posts along the way, and haven’t needed to use the guide book even once between Erith (pronounced Eeerith) and Staines-Upon-Thames. I did however study it to a certain extent before my walk just to get an idea of what to expect, and to try figure out how to traverse the river from south to north at Walton to Shepperton. I love swimming, but hadn’t planned on including that in my journey, although the water on a hot summer’s day looks inviting to soothe achy feet. I needn’t have worried…it was clearly marked and of course the ferry was there. It was also famously featured in H. G. Wells’ novel War of the Worlds. But unless you actually knew the Thames met with the River Wey at this point, you could end up walking the wrong river path.

I could go into more detail about the National Trails but that would take up too much space, so here is a link to their website should you wish to find out more about the National Trails of the UK. There are 16 National Trails in the UK from what I can see; and I’m really keen to walk more of them…..watch this space – we are spoilt for choice.

Although not the official start of The Thames Path, I decided to start at Erith and walk to the Thames Barrier near Woolwich and try to get in as much of the pathway along the Thames as possible. I also decided to walk from sea to source since lockdown restrictions forbade me from staying overnight in hotels until 17th May, and then it wouldn’t be a ‘walk in celebration of my coming of age’ – OAP status is now mine 🙂 LOL

Also it’s relatively easy for me to get to these earlier stages by train from home and make them day trips, albeit a tad pricey (train travel in the UK is not cheap) and long-winded….because it takes roughly 2.5/3 or 4 hours just to get to the relevant station each time to even start the walk! But be that as it may…I was determined to get started and not be put off by the limitations of lockdown, and since we are now allowed to travel farther afield….that is what I did.

I arrived at Erith station by 10:15 on 17th April for Stage 1 of ‘Walking the Thames Path’, and set MapMyWalk ready to go. I’ve been using this walking app since 2016 and it suits my needs. I don’t need much more information than how many kilometres I’ve covered, how long it takes, how many steps I’ve walked and what the elevation is…..

This was the first time I’ve been to Erith and although I didn’t have much time to explore, I can say…I probably wouldn’t want to live there. Sorry to all Erithians who are reading this 😜 I may have a repeat visit at a later stage and explore more, which may change my mind. It does however have the longest pier in London – I guess that’s something! As well as which it was mentioned in the Domesday Book as Lesnes or Lessness. Erith “alias Lysnes” has a written history that goes back to 695, and traces of a pre-historic settlement have been uncovered. So that’s another place added to my Project 101 list! As long as I have feet on the ground in a place mentioned in the Domesday Book it counts…an overnight stay is desirable, but not always attainable, so feet on the ground.

The River Thames is a maritime river and has serviced the City of London and upper reaches for centuries, and the lower reaches onto the Thames Estuary have been brutalised by progress and ‘civilisation’ – it is not pretty. There are of course small pockets of prettiness and it gets better the further upstream you go, but although the path was wide, it was mostly grey, dull and uninspiring concrete.

Gravesend

What was shocking though, albeit not surprising was the amount of trash and pollution that litters the riverbed. Oh what are we doing to this planet???

plastic pollution on the river thames
plastic pollution on the River Thames

Of course the river is also littered with boats, big and small and many a varied jetty strode out into the channel.

jetties jutting out into the river thames - walking the thames path
jetties jutting out into the River Thames – walking the Thames Path

Because the tide was out, I didn’t see any large ships go by, but a few smaller vessels made their way, either up or down stream.

ships on the thames - walking the thames path
ships on the thames – walking the Thames Path

In case you’re a first time reader, just to bring you up to speed….the original plan was to walk the whole length in one go over 2-3 weeks, but Covid lockdown restrictions got in the way, so I had to ‘pivot’ and change my plans. To that end I decided to do the first 6 stages between Erith and Staines by day tripping. As it turned out I did the distance in 5 stages, which is brilliant.

And so, onto Stage 1a – Walking the Thames Path : Erith to the Thames Barrier (this post will follow tomorrow night).

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I’ve often seen posts where people do a round up of the places they’ve been in any particular month or year, so I thought I’d do a first quarter round up of the places I’ve been since January 1st. I saw in the New Year in front of the telly at home with my daughter and future son-in-law LOL Although I used to love going into London to watch the New Year fireworks live, since they introduced the £10 admittance fee and having to queue for hours before getting in, I’ve decided….no more!

As part of the #walk1000 miles challenge for 2018, I’ve kept note of the km’s/miles covered on my various excursions, via mapmywalk. Some of the walks look like a drunken spider has been let loose! But what fun to look at the maps afterwards and see the places I walked through.

January 2018 – walked 41 miles

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London’s New Year fireworks on the telly. Key to the Kingdom; Montgomery, Wales and Chirbury, Shropshire

February 2018 – walked 48 miles

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Nottingham

March 2019 – walked 63 miles

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Chester

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a walk along the Chester Canal to Christleton, a Domesday Book Village

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Quex Park and a tour of the towers

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Fordham, Wicken, Soham

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Ely

ely, ship of the fens, exexning, domeday book towns, explore ely, project 101, Exning; birthplace of St Etheldreda and home of Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni

Exning; birthplace of St Etheldreda and home of Boudicca, Queen of the Iceni

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Ely Cathedral

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Oliver Cromwell’s House, Ely

And there it is; my first quarter round up of places I’ve been in January, February and March of 2018, and 152 miles from 01/01/18-31/03/2018 – I’m slacking and need to get out more if I want to reach my 1000 mile target. I had thought I’d stretch myself this year and aim for 2018 miles (LOL – yeah right) but most of the jobs I’ve had so far haven’t been conducive to much time for walking. I haven’t kept track of every step I’ve taken, and only count #bootson walks where I specifically set off to ‘have a walk’. My pilgrimage from Winchester to Canterbury in August/September will add at least 133 miles to the total, but even so…..

I wonder what April, May and June will bring. I know that most of May will be spent at home, what with my daughter’s impending wedding and everything involved with that, as well as which I’ll be flying in a Spitfire from Biggin Hill for my birthday later on this month….watch this space 🙂 I wonder if I can add ‘flying’ to my miles hahaha. I’m also planning a walk from Broadstairs to Folkestone later this month and a trip ‘up noooth’ for 3 days which will add a substantial mileage as I explore the city, however I shall have to motivate myself to get out more inbetween times.

 

 

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I’m totally in love with Chester. I may just move here 😊😊😊 It’s been a real mixed bag of weather starting with rain just after I arrived, sleet at about 9am yesterday, then rain which soaked me to the skin (I eventually dried out). Besides the weather it’s been an awesome stay with a fantastic walk around the city and perambulation along the Roman city walls when the skies cleared. What an extraordinary city.

chester, visit chester, things to do in chester, project 101, cities of england, roman cities

Dewa – Roman Chester

I can’t tell you how thrilling it has been to walk along ancient streets, the galleried balconies of The Rows, and strolling along walls along which Roman soldiers and King Charles I amongst many other historical figures have walked. So exciting.  😉

the rows, chester city walls, chester, visit chester, things to do in chester, project 101, cities of england, roman cities

Ancient streets, The Rows, city gates

So today I took a walk along the canal and ended up in a village called Christleton. To my delight it turned out to be a Domesday Book Village. I started early (08.05) and since it was such a gorgeous day and my last full day, I decided to make the most of it and walk a short way….well a short way turned into a few miles and by 9am I was in Christleton.

chester canal, christleton, domesday village, the rows, chester city walls, chester, visit chester, things to do in chester, project 101, cities of england, roman cities

Chester Canal

The canal was stunning with a number of locks, a few small humped bridges, lots of colourful canal boats and a number of fabulous canal-side properties.

christleton, chester canal

canalside properties

Although I had not been my intention to walk that far, I’m absolutely thrilled that I did. I explored the village and the little church that literally opened as I got there, then stopped for tea and toast at the Ring O’Bells pub; so cosy I could have stayed all day…

christleton, domesday book village, chester canal, christleton, domesday village, the rows, chester city walls, chester, visit chester, things to do in chester, project 101, cities of england, roman cities

Christleton – Domesday Book Village

but I had a city to explore, so jumping on the next bus to Chester, I arrived shortly after 11.20.

Since I had alighted near to the fantastic Church of St John the Baptist, I stopped off there first and was just in time to hear the 12noon chimes. This church is extraordinary with a history that stretches back to the 7th century. Stepping through the doors is like stepping back in time. Founded in 689 AD by Aethelred King of Mercia, it was enlarged by Aethelfleda the daughter of King Alfred the Great and her husband in AD 907. This is one of those churches where if you don’t go in and do research afterwards, you regret not stopping. It is stunning.

church of st john the baptist, chester canal, christleton, domesday village, the rows, chester city walls, chester, visit chester, things to do in chester, project 101, cities of england, roman cities

Church of St John the Baptist, Chester

With Norman architecture and pillars adorned with not only Mason marks but ancient frescoes amongst which is a 13th C image of St John the Baptist, memorials from the 17th century, a wooden Jacobean screen, an organ built for the Coronation of Queen Victoria in Westminster Abbey, rebuilt and installed here, Saxon and Viking stones dating from 900-1100 and examples of medieval tombstones including the grave slab for Agnes de Ridley wife of a sheriff of Chester, and so much more, you could stay for hours.

church of st john the baptist, chester canal, christleton, domesday village, the rows, chester city walls, chester, visit chester, things to do in chester, project 101, cities of england, roman cities

Mason marks, medieval paintings

In the grounds surround the church are some amazing ruins of the older church, one of which contains a very bizarre object; a coffin shaped hole in the top of the wall. Very bizarre. This church too suffered at the hands of Henry VIII and Oliver Cromwell’s Parliamentarian troops.

church of st john the baptist, chester canal, christleton, domesday village, the rows, chester city walls, chester, visit chester, things to do in chester, project 101, cities of england, roman cities

Chapel of St John the Baptist, Chester

From there I revisited the Roman Amphitheatre “When he saw the blood, it was as though he had drunk a deep draught of savage passion. He fixed his eyes upon the scene and took in all its frenzy ….He watched and cheered and grew hot with excitement” St Augustine Confessions 6.8 Having followed The Way of St Augustine from Ramsgate to Canterbury last year, finding this link was quite exciting.  Chester’s amphitheatre is the biggest in Britain and could seat 7,000 spectators; a powerful symbol of Roman supremacy on the edge of the empire. I walked right around the amphitheatre, imagining I could hear the cheers, jeers, shouts and screams and the roar of the crowds ringing in my ears. I wonder what it must have been like in Roman times…brutal I should guess. The spectacle that the crowds could see in the arena wild beast fights, public executions and gladiatorial combats, were not just bloodthirsty entertainment, they were rituals that expressed Roman values. While I was there a Roman soldier followed by a gaggle of noisy schoolchildren entered the arena and soon there were full-blooded cries echoing off the walls. What a terrific way to learn history!!! I think I must go back to school…in Chester!

chester roman amphitheatre, chester, city of chester, things to do in chester, explore chester, cities of england

The Roman Amphitheatre, Chester

Leaving the amphitheatre I walked through the Roman Gardens located right next to the city walls where you can see various artefacts as well the ruins of Roman baths, one of the most impressive buildings of the Chester fortress. Here again was a Roman soldier putting a gaggle of children through their soldier paces….with fierce screams and stamping feet. Too much fun!!

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The Roman Gardens, Chester

Chester was known as the Roman Fort of Deva and there is a charming little exhibition that you can visit – the Dewa Roman Experience; experience the sights, sounds and smells of Roman Chester.  Just off  Bridge Street, I popped in for a thoroughly enjoyable ‘quick’ visit. Absolutely worth the time, the cost of the ticket minimal and less than 2 cups of coffee.  The kids will love it.

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Dewa Roman Experience, Chester

http://www.dewaromanexperience.co.uk/experience.html

After whizzing through this delightful exhibition, a brisk walk took me through the centre of the city and onto the cathedral where I joined the FREE ground floor tour at 1.30pm. Wow, I wish I had a photographic memory or at least a tape recorder. The guides ply you with so many fascinating and interesting snippets of information, it’s quite overwhelming. Suffice to say, it is well worth the hour and it’s free. Times: 11:00 13:30 15:00

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Chester Cathedral

After this fascinating hour tour I joined the 60 minute Tower Tour at 3pm (£8) a very well spent £8 and 60 minutes; fascinating history and stunning views -we walked up along the narrow passageways around the church looking down onto the floor and up close and personal with the stained glass windows, stopped off in the ringing chamber, had a look at the fantastic bells, and then onto the roof for stupendous 360 degree views of Chester and as far as the Welsh mountains. I stood on the spot where Charles I stood during the Civil War and nearly had his head blown off….after which he ‘forsook the city and made haste elsewhere’. The views outdoors were just as fabulous as the views indoors and being up close to the ceiling was amazing, they are so beautiful. All too soon the tour was over and we returned to the floor of the cathedral. Absolutely fantastic.

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Tower Tour of Chester Cathedral

After a quick cup of tea and cake (included in the Tower Tour price) I made a dash through the streets to the Chester Museum and entered with like 10 minutes to spare, so all I got to see were the Roman exhibitions, which were amazing. It’s so exciting to see items that were made nearly 2,000 years ago and I guess I shall just have to return to Chester for a 2nd visit 🙂

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Chester Museum

Talking of which, I was scrolling through my photos and was reminded of a walk that was of interest; The Two Saints Way – a 92 mile walk from Chester to Lichfield…I’ve ordered the book and started planning hahahaha.

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Two Saints Way – Chester to Lichfield

After my quick visit I headed over to Spud You Like to see the remains of a Roman Hypocaust…wowwww. Now that was seriously impressive. I had to plead and beg and ask very nicely to go in as they had actually just closed for the day, but the young lass on the door heeded my entreaties and let me walk across her nice clean floor and run downstairs to have a look; so just a couple of very quick photos and a touch of the stones and my visit was over. I was disappointed as I had planned on having supper there LOL. Oh well. Sadly I was also told that they were closing as of end March as the lease had run out. What a shame.

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Roman Hypocaust, Chester

And that brought my visit to Chester to a close. I walked back towards the Town Hall looking for something different to eat and ended up at Blackstock’s Fish and Chips. I ordered the battered fish and a portion of chips and mushy peas. Very very disappointing. For a higher price, I got perhaps a 1/4 of the amount of chips I had at Adam’s Fish and Chips and although the chips tasted nice they were not a patch on the ones I had at Adam’s. The fish was tasty but small and to my utter dismay the mushy peas were not only tasteless and vinegary, but they were served in a polystyrene cup and plastic cutlery. Not good enough. When you visit Chester and fancy a cone of chips and fish…try Adam’s Fish & Chips on Bridge Street. 😉

After my meal I strolled through the city, sad to be leaving so soon I felt I could have stayed another day. I will seriously have to go back…perhaps when I do the Two Saints Walk.

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I couldn’t believe that I was finally here. After years of wanting to visit, it was thrilling to be walking these ancient streets, lined with all the amazing black and white buildings. I was giddy with elation and came close to photographing every single blessed building LOL

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The wonderful canal, famous black and white buildings and the world famous Chester clock

To say that I was charmed and delighted by Chester would be the understatement of the year.

Soon after I arrived, and after dropping my luggage, I set off from the AirBnb where I was staying and walked back into the city in the waning hours of the day. The sky was painted a soft blue with a pink tinge to the west, the last remnants of the setting sun. First stop was to photograph the lovely little houses on the canal…..the lights casting yellow reflections on the water. I determined there and then to walk along at least a part of the canal during my stay.

I soon reached the city centre and stood with my jaw agape, thrilling at the many black & white buildings, albeit many of them being Victorian restorations, they were utterly charming. I meandered here and there, my camera clicking away, thrilled to see the famous Victorian Chester clock above the city gate.

I love these old Roman towns with their city walls and gates. It always gives me an absolute thrill to walk beneath them or along them. Chester’s city walls are in a remarkably good condition and I noticed that I could practically walk right around the city via the walls……tomorrow.

The cathedral stood majestic and proud, shadows casting a spell in the early evening light, the building looked mystical, magical, ethereal and otherworldly. I walked along the famous Rows in the heart of the city, described as the oldest shopping arcade in Britain they were between 1220 and 1350 when Chester was a booming market town and port.

I walked along the 4 main thoroughfares and then with the Chester High Cross behind me I walked down to the river. Passing through the medieval Bridgegate that guarded the approach to Chester from North Wales I soon crossed the medieval bridge over the River Dee. Bliss. I stood there for ages and then retraced my steps through the city and back to the B&B. Tired but happy. I could barely wait to explore the next day.

Originally a Roman settlement, Chester was one of the 1000s of villages listed in the Domesday Book (great survey of 1086) and adds to my ever growing list for Project 101…I may just have to make it Project 202 at this rate LOL. Chester appears in 9 entries in Domesday Book.

One last photo of the clock, and although it was only 7.30pm it was totally dark. And so to bed, perchance to dream…….

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the Chester Clock

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I’ve been wanting to visit Chester for ever such a long time, and suddenly, due to circumstances on the work front, I’m able to plan a visit.

I’ve been working up in Nottingham for 2 weeks in February/March and tacked on 2 days for exploring the city while I’m here. I then tackled Google maps to see which places of interest were nearby…..voila Chester came up in my search, and since its just a 2.5 hour train journey away, I’ve decided to travel to Chester afterwards and spend a few days there as well.

Chester, located on the River Dee, has long been on my travel dream list as well as another location for Project101. A walled Roman city, Chester has a fascinating history, some of the most amazing Tudor architecture, a castle, an amphitheatre and a cathedral and nestles alongside a river, over which I’m sure there is a bridge or two. Perfect – at least 6 or 7 of the categories I’m aiming to fulfil. Founded as a ‘castrum’ or fort during the reign of Emperor Vespasian in AD79, Chester was one of the main Roman army camps, it’s original name: Deva Victrix, it was also briefly located in Wales, and is of course mentioned in the Domesday Book.

Known for it’s extensive Roman walls made of the local red sandstone, within the medieval city is The Rows, now a shopping precinct with Tudor-style half-timbered buildings, some of which are Victorian renovations. Just beyond the city’s old walls there’s a Roman amphitheatre and ongoing excavations. I’m excited to see my 3rd Roman amphitheatre.

The Minster Church of West Mercia, founded by King AEthelred of Mercia in 689, became Chester’s cathedral and the town was granted city status in 1541 during the reign of Henry VIII.  Apparently it has one of the best preserved Roman walls in Britain, which the Saxons extended and strengthened to protect the city against the Danes. Chester was one of the last cities in England to fall to the Normans after which William the Conqueror constructed a castle, to dominate not only the town but also the nearby Welsh border.

Chester experienced substantial development during the Industrial Revolution which saw railways, canals and new roads being built. I’m so excited to be visiting there and wish I had a few more days…..but 2.5 will have to do for now.

Things I plan to see/do while I’m there:

Walk a circuit of the City Walls; 3kms approx and visit the city gates, of which there are by all accounts 7: Bridgegate, Eastgate, Newgate, Northgate, St Martin’s Gate, Watergate, and Wolf Gate. Awesome. I wonder how it compares to the city walls at Canterbury?

The amphitheatre and excavations – it will be interesting to see the comparison to the Roman amphitheatre at Guildhall in London.

The Castle (of course 🙂 ) – I love a good castle

The Cathedral – one of my favourite types of buildings to visit, they are usually quite exquisite.

The Row with it’s Tudor-style buildings – an absolute favourite in terms of architecture.

Walk alongside the river and cross at least two bridges….a must do 🙂

And last but absolutely not least….visit the famous Eastgate Clock; apparently the most photographed clock in England after Big Ben, which seems hard to believe…. This was one of the very first things about Chester that made the decision for me; I had to visit.

And so to Chester I go…..

 

 

 

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After months of reading up on other people’s facebook posts, reading blogs and posts on Camino forums, I finally narrowed down my Camino packing list.

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My Camino 2017 packing; I’ve made relevant adjustments for walking in the UK

Items that I removed from the final pack before leaving: top left image; gloves, sandals, and I changed my walking socks after testing the marvellous socks I found at Mountain Warehouse; double thick…

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some of the many articles I researched and a bit of a laugh

Admittedly I had bought a whole load of items while I was in South Africa in May 2016, but I realised over time that most of it wouldn’t really be needed/suitable for a Camino in September. I will however make good use of them when I start walking in the UK….we all know how changeable the weather can be here so no doubt the double fleece jacket, woollen beanie and thick woollen gloves will come in handy for those trips. So for now they shall remain at home.

One of the items I bought which will come in handy is the Glowstick which is of course packed.

So at the final Countdown to my Camino, this is what I packed:

Osprey Mystic Magenta Tempest Talon 40 – my erstwhile backpack 1.08 kgs

Osprey Water Bladder 1.5liter                                                            0.700 grams

Sandals (walking sandals swopped for flip flops)                               0.120 grams

Fleece – lilac                                                                                      0.500 grams

Jumper – lilac                                                                                     0.220 grams

Hiking pants x 2 pairs – black (packed)                                              0.620 grams

Hiking pants 1 pair – black (to be worn)                                             0.310 grams

Quick drying T-shirts x 3 – magenta (packed)                                    0.360 grams

Quick Drying T-shirt to be worn                                                          0.120 grams

Panties x 7 (black) & pantie liners x 20                                              0.100 grams

Hiking socks – double thick x 5 (black)                                               0.250 grams

Hiking socks – double thick – worn                                                      0.050 grams

Wick away inner sock liners x 2                                                          0.050 grams

Bras x 2 (one on & one packed)                                                         0.050 grams

Night t-shirt (slogan: everything hurts – gift from my daughter)          0.210 grams

Towel – magenta (quick drying) & face cloth                                      0.230 grams

Rain poncho (now ditched in favour of a lightweight poncho – 20g)   0.395 grams

Extras:

LED Light (glowstick)                                                                          0.020 grams

Pale blue scarf with silver scallop shell pattern (gift from daughter)   0.040 grams

Pilgrim’s Scallop Shell                                                                         0.020 grams

Pilgrim’s Passports                                                                              0.030 grams

Orange Emergency Sheet                                                                   0.230 grams

Silver Emergency Foil Blanket                                                            0.010 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 1)                                                         0.180 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 2)                                                         0.310 grams

Various odds and ends (pack 3)                                                         0.110 grams

Phone charger and cord                                                                     0.050 grams

Emergency travel charger for my phone                                            0.220 grams

Teabags (vital and essential for my morning cuppa)                          0.030 grams

Toiletries                                                                                             0.800 grams

(shower gel, shampoo, conditioner, face wash, face cream, hand wash, dish-washing liquid, toothpaste, detergent gel, toothbrush, dental floss, comb, nail clippers, emery board, small scissors, shower gloves, incognito spray (100 grams), citronella oil, Epsom salts, rehydration salts, immodium, various vitamins)

Below are images of what I’ve packed for my next Camino – new additions would be the pink travel case (not yet sure it’s going to be useful), small day pack for those days I send Pepe ahead (it’s a marvellous little bag and folds away into itself and weighs next to nothing). The bits and bobs have been dramatically reduced, I did find the little velcro straps to be incredibly useful as well as the elasticated straps with clips…good for hanging socks to dry.packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,

packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,

packing for my impending UK walk – my fabulous new puffer jacket and my wonderful Pepe; Osprey Mystic Magenta, packed and ready to go

packing for pilgrimage, long distance walks uk, packing for the camino,

the noodles came in handy one night after a very long day. I used the tea bags 3 times and the mug never LOL

Some stuff you just don’t need. 😉 It’s really tricky packing for a long distance walk, especially in a foreign country. I took way too much of medical supplies like plasters and stuff (they are in plentiful supply in all the large towns and some of the villages you pass along the way).

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clearly took far too much stuff LOL

Admittedly, despite advice to the contrary, I took a load of stuff I really didn’t need – most of it came home with me. LOL

I’ll be rechecking my list before I start along The Pilgrim’s Way and hopefully I can ditch some more items before I start…..

Buen Camino

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I thought it was apt that today’s day of gratitude should be about my job. In this capacity I get to meet people from a very wide spectrum of humanity and I get to travel the country, mostly for 2 weeks at a time and sometimes for a longer stint…currently I’m at a 31 day position in north west Wales.

I have a love/hate relationship with my job; as a Carer for the elderly. Sometimes the assignment I am allocated is amazing, and sometimes its just plain awful – you never know which it will be till you get there. One thing I have learned in this job is that there are so many very unhappy people in the world, and there are some lovely folk who are a daily pleasure to be with.

In my capacity as a Carer I get sent all over the UK and sometimes even to Ireland. Its a fantastic way to see the country and mostly I don’t mind the travel, even though occasionally it takes anything up to 8 hours to get to a place from home; door to door. Fortunately I have social media to keep me occupied and every now and then I pull out my knitting and knit a few more squares for my motor-home blanket.

I’m grateful that I am able to visit some of the most historic, quirky and amazing places in all 4 countries that make up the UK. It was during a visit to the Isle of Wight that Project 101 really took off….when one day while out walking I noticed the village sign board; Nettlestone 1086 🙂 wowwwww a Domesday Book village.

31 days of gratitude, domesday book villages, nettlestone 1086, travel the uk, working as a carer for the elderly, not just a granny travels, project 101

Nettlestone 1086; a Domesday Book Villages

Intrigued, I decided to see how many of these I had already visited over the last 16 years. Before then I had merely been counting the islands I visit with a goal of 100, but since I saw that sign I decided to find out how many Domesday Book villages, towns or cities I had visited….currently it’s 107!!

I was astounded and that got me to thinking about other places I had been, and so Project 101 was born.

I am grateful too that I have work. During uncertain times, it is in fact a bonus to have a job, especially a job that I mostly enjoy. I’ve been with the same agency now for 10 years and in that time I have travelled to just about every county in England, a good few in Scotland (I worked in a castle once!!), 1 county in Ireland and currently I’m in Wales.

31 days of gratitude, domesday book villages, nettlestone 1086, travel the uk, working as a carer for the elderly, not just a granny travels, project 101

some of the many, many places I have worked in the UK

It’s not always an easy job and sometimes I leave after 2 weeks absolutely drained; emotionally, mentally and physically. Old people can be very challenging, on all 3 levels mentioned. But I have learned some fascinating stories…when someone is prepared to talk about their lives, you hear some extraordinary tales. I often wish they would put their stories into a book. Especially when it relates to WW2. So many personal accounts of life during the war are lost and we’re left with the ‘official’ accounts.

I am grateful for my job because it allows me to satisfy my highest value; travelling. I get to meet interesting people, see fantastic places, and steep myself in the amazing history of this country. And at the same time, I can pay my bills LOL 💸💸💸💸

I’ve also learned to be extraordinarily patient, to create interesting and colourful meals and occasionally I get to enjoy an assignment that is so lovely, that I got back again and again.

31 days of gratitude, domesday book villages, nettlestone 1086, travel the uk, working as a carer for the elderly, not just a granny travels, project 101

preparing nutritious and colourful meals

I also get to meet all manner of pets, and now and then I fall in love with a real beauty.

I also get to meet all manner of pets, and now and then I fall in love with a real beauty.

a beautiful little boy

 

 

 

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