Way back at the beginning of my trip, I decided that it might be a good idea to walk from Richmond to Greenwich along the south bank of the Thames. I don’t know what put that idea into my head; it was either the fact that those were the furthest places I’d been outside of central London at that point or the Tudor connections. At any rate, I looked up information on the Thames Path online, and realized that Richmond to Greenwich was a 24 mile walk. That didn’t really deter me; I’m a good walker, and it sounded like a decent day out. 🙂
I made a few false starts on this walk. There were a few times that I planned to go and I just couldn’t get up early enough. I also had transportation issues, which eventually led to it being too late for me to get started. Last Saturday, though, everything fell into place. I took an actual train over to Richmond, so I wouldn’t have to worry about Tube issues, and I got there at a decent time. The beginning of this part of the Thames Path is really pretty; there’s the river on one side, and Richmond Park on the other. I didn’t see any of the park’s famous deer, but I definitely heard them! Those suckers are loud; I’m going to head to the park this weekend to see if I can get some pictures. They won’t be closeups, though; those deer have been known to charge people who get too close, and I’d rather avoid the hospital during my last week here. 🙂
The path continues to be very pretty for awhile; lots of trees and pretty fields and nice buildings:
The path was also rather crowded with joggers and dog walkers and families. That’s understandable; it’s a nice place to walk, and the weather was fantastic. As I got closer to central London, though, the scenery got…less attractive. The Thames Path runs through some pretty urban areas, and given how much construction is going on, there was an awful lot of industrial stuff to look at. At least I was a little more alone on those sections of the path. 😀
I had fully intended to walk all 24 miles in one day, but by the time I got to Westminster Bridge, I had to stop. Not wanting to ruin the new shoes I’d just bought, I wore my old, falling apart pair. Not only did they give me blisters and sore spots, but they were practically in pieces. I don’t think they would have made it the rest of the way to Greenwich. Plus, even though I walk VERY fast and had made good time from Richmond, my sore feet combined with all the detours that the path took to get around the construction had really slowed down my progress. I might have continued if I’d had the luxury of time and could have taken the next day off, but time is of the essence. So, I put off continuing down the path until today. I went back to Westminster Bridge (my previous stopping point), which meant that I didn’t make quite such good time at the beginning. That’s because Westminster Bridge is ALWAYS crowded with tourists who don’t seem to have anything to do but block the walkways so people who actually need to get somewhere can’t do so. The parts of the south bank immediately around the bridge are usually pretty crowded, too; the London Eye is right there, as is the aquarium. From there, I headed down a section of the river that I’ve walked many times since being here: Westminster to St. Paul’s. Typically, I then cross the Millennium Bridge so I can get the Tube home from St. Paul’s station, but today (obviously) I kept going. I passed the Tower of London, which I doubt I’ll get to again before I leave:
Nice that the leaves are finally changing; I may get some decent fall color pictures yet!
Once I was past the Tower, the path got very quiet. There were lots of times that I was totally alone, which was pretty fantastic. As I’ve said, I don’t hate crowds, but I need my alone time every now and then. The path DOES still detour through and around some construction and ugly industrial stuff, but it also winds through some quiet, pretty neighborhoods. It really made it hit home how much of London I still haven’t discovered, even after three months.
I was surprised at how quickly I got to Greenwich. It felt like I’d hardly been walking for any time at all, and I wasn’t tired or sore. I walked around Greenwich for awhile, remembering how much I liked it when I was there before, and then decided to celebrate the end of my walk with some authentic English fish and chips. There’s a place in Greenwich called the Great British Fish and Chip Shop, which seemed like a good bet. The place was clean, the staff was friendly, and the prices were decent. Not great, mind you, but decent. I ordered the “regular” size meal, and when I got my food, I couldn’t believe my eyes. I was staring at half a large fish, and the equivalent of about 14 potatoes. I could have fed two people with very large appetites or three people with normal ones with what was on my plate! It made me very, very scared about what the large meal option looked like. The food was actually pretty good, especially considering that I don’t really like seafood all that much. It was just SO GREASY. Seriously; the fish was dripping with it, and there were puddles forming underneath. By the time I got about halfway done, I was so stuffed I could barely think straight. I didn’t feel particularly good, either. I was a little nauseous, and I definitely learned the meaning of the phrase “food coma.” I ate at about 3pm, and I just started feeling normal about an hour and a half ago (9pm). Again, the food itself was fine; I’m just not used to eating such big meals, and I definitely don’t do greasy food. If you’re used to that kind of thing, and you have someone with you to help you eat the HUGE portions, you won’t have a problem. Fish and chips is one British tradition that I won’t be trying again anytime soon, though!