Sunday, 7 June 2009

Richmond Bridge to Putney Bridge – (Surrey/Middlesex) – 07/06/09 – 10 Miles – IVC

Having been woken by heavy crashes of thunder and pouring rain at about 07.32 AM, I decided today’s walk was a non-starter and decided to have a lay in instead. However when I eventually woke up again around 09.09 AM, the rain had stopped and the sun was shining. It then occurred to me I could still do this one. So with breakfast down me, I set off on my two bus rides to the Richmond station meeting point, actually getting there some 29 minutes early (thank goodness for Costa Coffee then). So waiting in the station forecourt I met up with one of the walkers from my Richmond Park circuits, but we weren’t sure who our leader was (as she was not someone I had ever seen on an IVC walk). Anyway we were soon approached by a girl in a red mac wanting to know were we North London Ramblers ? Eventually however our (9 strong) group emerged from the platform, whilst the North London lot assembled some 10 yards from us, looking far more organised by virtue of owning a clipboard.

So Richmond Bridge to Putney Bridge is of course a Thameside walk, and one of the first things you have to appreciate when walking on the towpath at weekends is that there are a lot of other users of it. Most notably (or rather most annoyingly) the legions of macho kitted out cyclists, who come at you from behind at full speed. Now not all of our group are necessarily savvy enough to appreciate this is not the Cotswolds (or wherever), and that you can’t just totally spread yourselves across the towpath oblivious to everything else coming at you. By the same token however these macho dicks on mountain bikes could save a lot of hassle for everyone by investing in something for their bike known as a bell.

Now although the Sun made the occasional brief appearance the day was overall rather gloomy, and having made it to Kew Bridge the rain did start to come down. Just as well then that was where lunch planned. So having crossed the bridge over to the Middlesex side, lunch was at a pub on the snootily named Strand on the Green. Apparently every table was being reserved for someone, but we were told we could have one of the reserved tables provided we buzzed off by 14.00 PM. I had what appeared to be half a bowl of caulifower soup, and a few grudging scraps of bread (superb value at £4.95 – hmm !). As for those who had the fish and chips, they were in something of a dilemma wondering whether to use both hands to handle the cutlery, or whether they actually required all ten fingers in order to count the number of chips on each plate.

So with lunch over and with the rain having stopped as well, we set off again. Unfortunately this where our leader made a major faux pas, by keeping us on the Middlesex side of the river. Basically you can’t walk along the Thames on this stretch as much of it is owned by sports clubs and private residences. So most of the walk down to Chiswick Bridge was spent walking along the road, and assorted back streets. What made it worse was that having reached Chiswick Bridge and a chance to cross over, that was lost and we still carried on as before onto yet more backstreets. Yes I could have made a demonstrative point here, but I wasn’t leading the walk, so I decided to shut up and just follow on rather than undermine the person who was. Yet with all this walking on the roads, it was getting to the point where I wished I hadn’t bothered to come. However having passed Barnes Bridge (still on the Middlesex side) the ‘leader of all leaders’ persuaded our ‘leader on the day’ to retrace her steps, and so we crossed the river there onto the Surrey side and the natural order was restored.

One piece of fun was provided further along the towpath by a minature Paris Hilton type dog (a long way back from its owners and their other five dogs) challenging two pit bulls to a fight (held back by their highly amused owners). Not content with that though, this barking rat type thing then made a minor attack on a female jogger heading towards us, who promptly told us off for not controlling our dog ! Anyway after picking up a twig (probably twice its own bodyweight) it was retrieved by a combination of its owner and its assorted doggie mates.

Past Hammersmith Bridge and noticing the reference points of Harrods depository, Fulham Football Club and the turn off to the Wetlands Centre, we were soon on the approach to Putney Bridge and all the assorted rowing clubs along the riverbank. At that point I then decided an ice cream was urgently required (a Pavlovs dog response basically whenever I see an ice cream van, which other adults seem to have grown out of). However once we made our final assembley outside the Star and Garter pub, I was then too full for the (then) mooted tea stop, and parted company with the rest of the group, to head off for the tube. So overall I would have to say a fairly non-descript walk on a fairly non-descript day (weatherwise), somewhat spoiled by walking from Kew Bridge to Barnes Bridge on the wrong (non) side of the river.
Walks since last blog entry (1 x seven and a half miler).

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