The Thames Path

Yesterday, my friend Becky, her dog, the lovely Jess, and I walked some of the Thames Path. We walked from Tower Hill to Canary Wharf, which is about 4 miles.

For those of you who don’t know, the Thames Path is a National Trail, running from the source of the Thames, near Kemble, in Gloucestershire, to the Thames Barrier at Charlton. The total length is about 184 miles (so only another 180 miles to go, if I want to do the whole lot!). The trail was opened in 1996.

The original plan was that the whole path along the Thames could be walked, but in some places the Towpath is not available. The part of the Thames along which we walked, you actually need to walk along the shore in some places (so you can only do it at low tide). We elected not to do that, for a number of reasons.

There are some new, and presumably very expensive, flats along the bank side, so there are gated areas which prevent you from walking directly along the towpath. Having said all that, we were able to walk along the bank most of the way. Around St Katherine’s dock and that first part of our walk, we had to walk “inland” a bit, but it was ok, there were some old buildings which made it worthwhile.

We stopped off for lunch at the Prospect of Whitby at Wapping. The Prospect is one of the oldest pubs along the Thames (probably in London) dating back to 1520. Fortunately, there is a beer garden, so Jess was welcome. Understandably, in times gone by, the pub was frequented by those who used the Thames, and no doubt some of those were smugglers and pirates. Certainly, that is the reputation of the pub. Charles Dickens and Samuel Pepys are also believed to have been regulars. The pub also stands on the border of Wapping and Limehouse. Anyway, the food was pretty good, and not too expensive so I’d go back there again.

Whilst walking along, you get to see all the river traffic, including a rather nice yacht that passed us. I’ll be honest, I didn’t recognise most of Wapping now, much of what I remember has been pulled down and new buildings erected. We carried on to Canary Wharf and decided to call it a day there, but not before we’d looked back to see the Shard across the other side of Deptford on the south bank.

At Millwall Park (there used to be seven windmills, hence the name Millwall) we decided it was time to make out way back to the stations so we could go our respective ways home, but not before we stopped off at the Cat and Canary, in Canary Wharf, for a well-deserved drink. Canary Wharf is on the Isle of Dogs, on the site of the old West India Docks, once one of the busiest docks in the World. The name Canary Wharf comes from the name of the dock built there in 1936 for Fruit Lines Ltd, which was a subsidiary of Fred Olsen Lines Ltd for Mediterranean and Canary Islands fruit trade.

All in all, a lovely day out and good exercise as well!


©Susan Shirley 2014



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