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

Chertsey to Kingston

Wednesday 19 April 2017

Our twelfth day on the path was another bright and sunny one which took us into Greater London for the first time, the finishing point bringing us to just short of the 150 mile mark. The entire day was spent making our way through the capital's south-western suburbs, although some long sections of tree-lined paths early on gave much of the journey a quieter feel. The route included the only ferry crossing on the Thames Path, taking us between Shepperton and Weybridge and avoiding a long detour on the northern bank with a considerable amount of road walking. This section of the path would also take us past one of the most famous landmarks along the Thames, Hampton Court Palace, on the final stretch of the journey to our overnight hotel accommodation in Kingston.


Unlike the previous evening when we had called for a taxi, we decided to walk the extra mile and a quarter to get back to the river, stopping off to buy both breakfast and lunch before rejoining the path alongside Chertsey Bridge. The opening mile was perhaps the greenest of the day, with meadows on both banks bringing us to a collection of extremely impressive house boats moored alongside our route along the northern bank. Soon after this the river turns sharply to the left and passes the large Pharaoh's Island, after which Shepperton Lock comes into view and anyone walking the path has to decide whether or not to use the ferry. Avoiding the ferry means a much longer route through Shepperton to Walton Bridge, so without much difficulty we decided to take the boat.

The ferry operates 'on request' by ringing a bell, with instructions to ring only on the quarter-hour. We arrived just before 9.45 am and had to wait just a couple of minutes before ringing the bell, the ferry operator quickly arriving to take us over to Weybridge on the southern bank for a fee of £2 each. In this area numerous channels divide the river and the Thames Path uses the Desborough Cut, formed in the 1930s both to act as a short cut and reduce the risk of flooding. This is a long, straight section of the path with trees hiding the parallel running road, which eventually comes to a large car park just after the end of the cut. We continued a little further along until we came to Walton Bridge, stopping there for a short rest before continuing along to Walton-on-Thames.


On the other side of Walton Bridge we made our way over the footbridge which crosses over the entrance to the marina and past a couple of riverside pubs which had been recommended to us by both our taxi driver and Airbnb host the previous evening. We decided against stopping at either, preferring to press on in the hope of reaching Kingston as early as possible, so we continued past the northernmost residential areas of Walton-on-Thames and on into an area where there appears to be considerably more development across on the opposite bank. There houses and boatyards are clearly visible, while the gas and water works which lie to the south of the river are kept from view by the trees alongside the path.

Once you have passed the site of the former Molesey Reservoirs, which have now been converted into a nature reserve, the path arrives at a housing estate in West Molesey with views across to the island of Platt's Eyot. Moving further into the estate, we were now joined by a considerable number of other walkers enjoying the wider green space, many of them accompanied by dogs. With the day growing increasingly warm and lunchtime approaching, we decided to stop and eat in Hurst Park. Here there are benches situated directly opposite Hampton on the northern bank, which is dominated by the impressive landmark of St Mary's Church.


Leaving Hurst Park after lunch, we continued past Taggs Island, which is home to some of the grandest houseboats on the river. By this stage, the many chimneys of Hampton Court Palace were already coming into view on the far side of Molesey Lock and once we had passed the lock, we headed up to the road to cross over Hampton Court Bridge. It is at this point that the Thames Path 'officially' enters London for the first time, moving from Surrey into the Greater London Authority and the Borough of Richmond. After pausing briefly to take some photos of Hampton Court, we headed back to the river to follow the path as it heads around the side of the palace and around the gardens on the way to Kingston.

The remainder of the day was to be characterised by very different scenery on each bank, with the green of the northern bank in great contrast to the houses of Thames Ditton, Surbiton and Kingston to the south. Gradually, the river curves around to the left and heads almost due north, at which point Kingston comes into view across the water. We were due to be staying overnight at the Hermes Hotel bed and breakfast and were able to catch a brief glimpse of our accommodation as we passed by, unfortunately having to go some way past before reaching Kingston Bridge where we could cross over. Having headed over the bridge, we stopped off briefly to pick up some food before making the additional journey of almost half a mile back up the river for a well earned rest.