|Day 2 – April 24||Pimlico to Kingston|
|Weather: Cloudy am, Sunny pm||B&B: Kathy’s B&B|
|Departed: 9:00 Arrived: 15:30||Distance Today: 17 mi / 27.5 km|
|Total Distance: 30.5 mi / 49.0 km||Pint of the Day: Sharps Cornish Coaster Ale|
I set out from Pimlico under menacing skies and a very cold wind. I crossed the Albert Bridge and into Battersea Park to join the Thames Path on the south bank of the river. The stretch between Battersea and Wandsworth Park is home to far more metal cranes than feathered ones. Shiny new condominiums march westward towards Putney and on one occasion I walked through the middle of a building site. The architecture does little to inspire me but these new developments do provide riverside access, which I suspect was not the case when it was home to industry.
A few raindrops began to fall and so I put on my rain gear and dug the light gloves out of the bottom of my bag (the ones I almost left at home). The scenery began to improve once I passed Putney Bridge and I spotted my first rower shortly after that. Open spaces and greenery became more prevalent and once the wind died down I heard my first birdsong of the trip. They were drowned out every 2 minutes by the roar of jets approaching Heathrow but they were a welcome sound nonetheless.
I only spotted a single shopping cart today but I did find an entire car just on the edge of Putney. At first I thought it was parked on the gravel foreshore but as I got closer I noticed the policeman and that the car was damaged. It was probably salvageable but I think I’ll stick to shopping carts.
The skies began to brighten and I finally had some softer ground underfoot. I’ve been nursing a stubborn blister I earned on my last training walk and so avoiding tarmac is a priority. I was making good time and by noon I had passed Chiswick Bridge. I took a break on some steps used by one of the many rowing clubs that line both sides of the Thames. There was lots of activity on the water and the improving weather marked a noticeable increase in the number of walkers.
It wasn’t long after my lunch break that I passed Kew Bridge and began a very green 3-mile ramble alongside Kew Gardens and Old Deer Park. There was lots to look at along the way but despite my many stops to take photos I knew I was going to reach Richmond early in the afternoon. This was good news because my alternate destination was Kingston which was 4 miles further along. Tomorrow’s forecast is grim and I was keen to take advantage of today’s good weather and reduce the mileage on Day 3.
Richmond is a beautiful town which I visited very briefly in the 1990s. The riverside was equally attractive and sported at least one pub that I would have definitely patronized had I not been needing to prolong my walk. I spotted the Royal Barge that will be used by the Queen on her Jubilee sail-past in June. It was being refitted and closely monitored by the police.
Ten minutes up river the Thames Path rolls up beside Petersham Meadows, famous for its herd of cows which are apparently the first (or last) after (or before) London. Technically this is correct although I did see a cow near the Wetlands Centre … but of course a single cow, even a magnificent Highland beast, does not qualify as a herd. Just as well I did spot it though because the meadow was decidedly herdless. I did find a sign announcing the triumphant return of said herd the “week of April 23rd” so it looks like I just missed it.
Fortunately I had another reason for a voluntary diversion across the meadows and that was to visit St. Peters Church, or more specifically, the churchyard. For here lies Captain George Vancouver, a revelation that I hope triggers a sharp intake of breath from the folks at home. He died a young man (age 40) and in relative obscurity but not before charting most of the Pacific northwest. He gave his name to a most excellent island, many streets, an HBC fort (now one of two cities bearing his name), a mountain, a bay, a peninsula and a Hockey team that can’t win the freaking Cup. I can report that his modest grave is well maintained and funded by “The Native Sons of British Columbia” and the City of Vancouver.
Back on the Thames Path I passed Ham House and Eel Pie Island before a long stretch through the Ham Lands Nature Reserve. Earlier in the day I passed two walkers heading towards London on what looked to be a multi-day walk, and in the nature reserve I stopped for a chat with a gentlemen from Ilchester who had been walking from Bath since last Monday. He had been camping in some very wet weather and was looking forward to ending his walk tomorrow at Waterloo.
I passed Teddington Lock and two very inquisitive dogs just before reaching the outskirts of Kingston. The tidal Thames is no more and I suspect from this point on I will see far more narrowboats, locks and holiday-makers.
I ended the days walk at Kingston Bridge and headed to the High Street where I replaced my camera. It served me well on my LEJOG but it was battered and bruised and the zoom lens finally packed it in late this afternoon. Dropping it yesterday didn’t help matters.
I returned to London via the #65 bus and a District line train and I’ll repeat the journey in reverse tomorrow. The commute is an hour long but relatively cheap and afforded another opportunity for a meal and a pint at the Grosvenor.