Latest Walks Report 18th - 22nd June 2024

Midsummer OverThames, Saturday 22nd June 2024

23 walkers, 40.5 miles - leader Gavin Fuller

After having crossed London’s bridges with a pedestrian footway from Tower Bridge to Richmond Lock around the winter solstice the previous December, that only left four uncrossed, and minds turned as to whether a walk could be put on around the summer one to take them all in. And then the suggestion came to add in the two foot tunnels as well. So eleven people met at King George V DLR station on a gloomy morning for a walk targeting 28 crossings of the Thames by foot via two tunnels and 26 bridges by sunset.

Intermittently light rain accompanied the first section through the Woolwich tunnel to Greenwich, where a further seven walkers, having decided that starting in East London at 07.00 was too much, joined at 09.00. Then it was through the Greenwich tunnel, and with a latecomer joining at Island Gardens along a waterside (if not wholly Thamesside) route through Docklands to Tower Bridge. Tower Bridge was as crowded as might be expected, but surprisingly the other bridges of central London weren’t too crowded as the route took in London, Southwark, Millennium (that one a lot less busy than expected, and where we picked up one more walker), Blackfriars, Waterloo and both Golden Jubilee before the challenge of crossing a horrendously busy Westminster. That survived, things were mercifully quieter as Lambeth (where we picked up yet another walker) and Vauxhall (where the first drop-out of the day departed) were crossed before lunch was taken at Battersea Power Station, where rehydration was provided for some in the shape of small cans of 7-Up being given away!

The lunch stop also saw a second walker depart and the last drops of the rain – things started brightening up as Chelsea Bridge became the next to be crossed, followed by Albert and Battersea. In Chelsea Harbour the group had the chance to cross a brand-new bridge taking the Thames Path to a good viewpoint back into central London, and then for the second week running the final walker to join us for the afternoon coincided with the sun coming out for the rest of the day. That would have made the patrons of the somewhat unlikely beach bar we encountered by the side of Wandsworth Bridge happy at least!

Once Putney railway bridge was crossed three more walkers left us, and a fourth after Putney Bridge. Two more departed after Hammersmith, just before one of our members very kindly came along with refreshments for the group – you’re a star Francis, who then accompanied us for the next couple of bridges. Barnes Bridge was the fourth bridge in a row to see departures as another two left us here, and once Chiswick Bridge was crossed two more departed for Gunnersbury station.

That meant there were ten walkers left, who had the benefit of glorious evening sunlight to push them on over Kew, Richmond Lock, Twickenham (for most if not all the first time they’d crossed that one on foot), Richmond and Teddington Lock Bridges to the last one at Kingston. Alarmingly news came in that it had been closed after an incident earlier in the day, and it was a relief to see traffic and people crossing it once we got near. One of the group was in celebratory mood by then, as it was her birthday and she’d been able to walk 'as many kilometres as her age' on the day - congratulations Mari. The rest could celebrate as they got to the other side of Kingston Bridge and for all but one having done every bridge on the day; six of those nine could claim the honour of both foot tunnels as well.

The crossing back over the bridge saw the 40-mile mark for the day hit, and we even got to Kingston station in a timely fashion for the next train back to London, well except for the trio who repaired to the nearby branch of a certain pub chain to celebrate their feat!

Photographs by Gavin Fuller, Barry Eade, Charlotte Minchell and Mari Espinar

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Summer Solstice evening walk, Thursday 20th June 2024

10 walkers, 8.8 miles - leader Jerome Ripp

After so much bad weather and muddy conditions, finally a dream of a walk in perfect summer solstice sunshine. A tour of Norbiton passing Telegraph House, one of the semaphore towers and once the home of American president Eisenhower. There were still a few colourful flowering shrubs in Isabella Gardens, otherwise all was fresh green, peaceful and serene. Even the deer must have been watching the football. A detour out of Richmond Park to Ham House and Common and finishing back in the park for the summer solstice sunset.   

Photographs by Jerome Ripp.

Art on the Wharf, Tuesday 18th June 2024

9 walkers, 9 miles - leader Ron Williamson

A walk with two halves.

Part 1: Through docklands from the Excel Centre to Canary Wharf with extended stops for plane watching on the high-level footbridge across the former Royal Victoria dock, visiting the interior of the new City Hall to see how savings have been made for London’s ratepayers, an extensive tour of Leamouth with its many information boards, and an alfresco lunch by the Thames opposite The Dome.

Part 2 The Canary Wharf estate searching for the many examples public art. An exploration which was to take us through pristine urban parks, along many dockside promenades, up and down countless stairs, across many bridges, into the spacious reception areas of imposing office buildings, through subterranean shopping malls and, of course, the tranquil environment  of Crossrail Place roof garden for a well earned rest.

In all we located 54 of the approximately 100 works of art before finishing in time to reach The Ledger building to sample the afternoon specials.

Possibly the star attraction of the day, situated in the lobby of Everyman Cinema, was “Transitions” a 16 meter long LED screen addressing themes of humanity, history and time and depicting the striking architecture of London .

Only 9 miles in 6 hours but a very tiring workout for the brain.

Photographs by Joelle Paul and Godfrey O’Callaghan.