When Lexie’s school started back at the end of August, I began looking for things to do to stay busy and finally meet other people living in London. I joined the PTA (which is something I said I’d never do), started taking Spanish classes at night, and I joined a walking club.
I’ve never really been much of a walker. I can cover a lot more ground a whole lot faster if I run, so I prefer to get my exercise that way. But I didn’t join this club for the exercise. (Believe me, I do plenty of walking just going to Lexie’s school and back every day!) I joined it for the companionship, and the opportunity to see parts of London that I wouldn’t otherwise have made it a point to see.
This particular walking club meets every Thursday morning to walk the Thames Path through London, a 40-mile stretch of the river from Richmond to the Thames Barrier in Greenwich. Each time we meet, we walk around five miles of the route, and then the next time pick up where we left off. So far we’ve made it from Richmond to Chelsea and it’s been an easy, scenic walk. The hardest part for me has been getting to our meeting points since many portions of the Thames run through the more remote areas of London. It’s forced me to learn to navigate through the city on my own using a combination of buses, tubes, and railways – something I’ve needed to learn since we got here.
Our first two walks along the Thames Path took us through the more residential areas of London. The paths there were leafy and green, and the surrounding area was so quiet that it was easy for us to forget we were walking in London. Only a few houseboats lined the riverbanks on either side, but other than that, the river was just as quiet as the towns we were walking through.
The pictures in this post all come from our third walk on the Thames Path which took us through Battersea Park and into Chelsea. We are just beginning to make our way into the heart of the city! On this portion of the walk, I was able to catch a glimpse of the Battersea Power Station. If you’re a Beatles or Pink Floyd fan, you’ll recognize it – it was featured in a shot from the movie Help! and on the cover of Pink Floyd’s Animals. It’s currently under construction. The long-abandoned building is being converted into residential flats. (Although you’d likely have to sell your first-born to be able to afford it – a studio flat is priced at £345,000 and the penthouse is selling for £6 million!)
The Albert Bridge is another sight to see along this portion of the Thames Path. Although it’s hard to tell in these photos, the bridge is actually painted with pink, blue, and green accents, making it one of the most feminine bridges I’ve ever seen. (And the most beautiful if Cinderella is your thing!) At night, Albert Bridge undergoes a complete transformation when 4,000 bulbs light it up like a Christmas tree, adding it to the list of things in London that look even prettier at night than they do in the light of day.
Battersea Park is also where you’ll find the Peace Pagoda. It was added to the park in 1985 by a team of monks and volunteers in charge of building these pagodas throughout the world to inspire world peace. Today, it’s a place for those of the Buddhist faith to come and pray, or for anyone to come and find spiritual peace. (At the very least, it’s worth a stop to admire the beautiful design.)
We still have quite a bit of the Thames Path to go, but we are hoping to have it completed by the end of December. There will definitely be many photo opportunities on the next five miles of our walk as we head towards Tower Bridge and the other famous tourist spots, but I’m most excited to see everything once we’re past the center of London. The east side of the city has remained a mystery to me since we got here, since I haven’t yet had a reason to venture that far. If it’s anything like what we’ve seen so far, it’ll be worth the walk. (And the maze of public transportation to get to it!)
For more information about walking the Thames Path in London (maps included), check out the TFL website!
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