This is the first of two walks to fill in my missing bits of the North bank of the river in London. Quite a lot of it is off river and starts at the Grand Union in Brentford before joining the river just before Kew. I had walked the section before several times as part of the Capital Ring and other walks. There are then quite a few stretches through London suburban roads. As it happens that aside it turned out to be quite pleasant.
This walk today almost didn't happen. I had originally planned it for Wednesday but the weather put paid to that along with problems on the trains. But on Thursday morning train issues arose again with the 7.47 train which forms my 9.05 usual train to London seriously delayed because of a swan on the line of all things. I had already decided not to go but at 8.45 checked again and surprising found it had already left Reading and was running on time. So a quick dash to the station and everything worked out fine.
Off the train at Twickenham and on the 267 bus to Brentford where I alighted just after 10am. The Thames Path splits from the Capital Ring at this point with the latter turning north along the Grand Union and the Thames Path crossing the bridge and Brentford Lock. The Ham which I next followed was not a good introduction to the walk, being a somewhat run down industrial road and the sight I saw at its end at first led me to believe I had gone the wrong way. A couple of Thames Path signs restored my confidence, the path continuing through the small gap at the side.
After a short walk I reached Thames Wharf Lock and then the River Brent. A short diversion through a new housing estate and we reach the point where the Brent meets the Thames. Real Thames for a change.
Soon Kew Bridge comes into view with Kew Gardens on the other side. Then after Kew Bridge Strand-on-the-Green, a most pleasant waterside stretch with plenty of nice houses. That too soon finishes and the Thames Path has to follow the parallel road with expensive private houses owning the river bank.
Before reaching Chiswick Bridge there are a few more diversions off the river and temporary diversions through building works. The path is quite narrow in places especially just after the bridge where you certainly couldn't get a wheelchair through. But it is compensated for a bit later when it gets decidedly rural.
A few more confusing diversions to get past Barnes railway Bridge and Duke's Meadow is reached, a large area of open parkland stretching back to Chiswick House in the distance. A small dock at Corney Reach, itself a pleasant residential area. But now away from the river for a while along Chiswick Mall.
At the end of Chiswick Mall is the Black Lion pub and since it was lunch time decided to stop for lunch. The pub has an interesting and somwhat bizzare history - see here. Although under the rules I had to sit outside under the big marquees they had erected I had a very pleasant meal and they seemed well organised.
Well fed I just had the short stretch to Hammersmith Bridge to complete. But more building work diversions and we were directed onto the main A4 for a short while. I thought I was going to be led over Hammersmith Flyover but thankfully not. Hammersmith Bridge is totally closed at the moment, has an uncertain future and looks very sad for itself. Quite a few youngsters being trained in canoeing, they seemed to be enjoying themselves.
Reaching the bridge I turned off (there is no option, you can't walk under it, it is all closed off.) and headed up to the busy town centre and the tube station where I caught the District line back to Richmond and my journey home. It was certainly a very enjoyable day.