Sunday, 17 October 2010

Putney to Syon Lane – (Surrey/Middlesex) – 17/10/10 – 9.25 Miles – IVC + Helen

Well not to put too fine a point on it, but this has been one of the toughest months I have ever had to live through. The stressful upshot of which being, that my health and energy levels have been completely on the floor for about three weeks now. So if ever I could have done without having to lead a walk for IVC this was it. Or to put it another way I didn’t want to be out on anyone elses walk let alone leading one of my own. However a commitment is a commitment, and so I was of course prepared to lead my walk in the Vale of Aylesbury around Coombe Hill and Chequers.

Yet if my stress levels weren’t high enough as it was, I got a call from a senior IVC member on Thursday afternoon, pointing out that there was a replacement bus service running on both the Chiltern and Metropolitan lines over the weekend. Thus my intended walk was immediately going to be a travel logistical nightmare, and so I had to make a quick decision to dump it, and improvise a new one. Thus I am grateful to two IVC members, one for pointing out the travel minefield I was about to step into, and the other for getting the new updated walk published over the old one at such short notice. That said there was always the constant worry that someone would still turn up on the old walk and I would be getting a very angry phone call. Thankfully that didn’t happen, however maybe even now there is still someone waiting at Wendover Station ………….. ?

Anyway this walk is my bog standard Putney to Syon Lane one which in normal circumstances now only merits a footnote on this blog. To my surprise however it was more of a novelty to other people and thus we had some 15 people including myself turn up for it. I was also grateful for Helen’s presence lest I take some sort of health dip on the walk itself, whereby she could take over (being that she has done this one before). So after a little confusion where we all waited outside Putney Exchange shopping centre for some imaginary person to visit the toilet, we were able to pick up the towpath and be on our way.

The Thames towpath at the Putney to Barnes end of things is fairly congested (especially for a sunny Autumn Sunday like this) with joggers, cyclists, dog walkers, and the rowing fraternity manouvering their craft. Anyway we plodded on through them all passing the usual landmarks like Fulham football club, Harrods furniture depository, Hammersmith Bridge and eventually Barnes Bridge.

With no set pub decided for lunch, once we reached Barnes I decided to pick the first one we came to, which was the Bulls Head. This turned out to be a Jazz themed pub, with an actual gig in progress in the music room. Food wise it was a tad disappointing that the roast chicken, and bangers and mash, that were both chalked up on the board were not available. Nevertheless most people had a roast of some sort, and I had bangers and bread plus the obligatory pint of cider. As we regrouped outside, two of our walkers decided that was as far as they wanted to go on this occasion, and dropped out there.

Onwards we went, with me pointing out where the Boat Race finishes at Chiswick Bridge, and having eventually reached Kew Bridge we crossed over there to the Middlesex side of the river. Now I had a constant nag all day, namely that there was only one train per hour from Syon Lane back to Waterloo. Thus I didn’t want to lead the group into the station with them having something like a 45 minute wait for a train. So with other people keen for a tea stop anyway, this seemed a good way to make the timings work. Thus on our way in and out of the Towpath, we spotted a Premier Inn in Brentford which turned out to be a perfect spot for some afternoon tea in their garden.

Unfortunately with the guy serving having to go and find more milk for the very popular hot chocolate, the time it takes people to drink these things, and then the inevitable last minute visit to the toilets by the male members of the group, we ended up spending 40 minutes there. That was 10 minutes more than I bargained for and which put us under some serious time pressure. Well I think you know where this is going. Thus back out on the Thames Lock / Grand Union Canal section no one seemed to be showing the slightest urgency to speed things up, despite my best efforts to get everyone moving along. Thus by the time the quickest of the group, reached the entrance to Syon Lane station, they were just in time to see the hourly train pull out. Needless to say everyone then looked at me with a ‘now what are we going to do’ look on their faces. Fortunately I was quickly able to get them on a bus round the corner, to Osterley underground station, whilst hoping no one would make a point of saying, “but you told us to buy an overground return to Syon Lane”.

Anyway whatever, considering the bigger picture things didn’t turn out too bad overall. In retrospect if I had time to think the walk through on Thursday evening, I would have said for people to buy a single to Putney, with us continuing on the Grand Union Canal all the way to Boston Manor underground. Anyway if there is a next time……… (incidentally I forgot my camera, so the picture here as taken on a previous walk, is a representation of what we saw on todays walk).

Walks since last blog entry:

1 x 6.5 mile (run)/walk – Grand Union/Osterley Park
2 x 6.5 mile walk – Grand Union/Osterley Park
1 x 3.75 mile Hellbank (circular) – via Beeley Village – Helen (Luther & Molly)

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