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Thames Path Fiddle: ride report

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  • masonb
    Felt I had to download yesterday fast. Greenwich Cyclists Ride Report Thames Path Fiddle Saturday 9 June 2001 [10am Cutty Sark/NFT 10.45am/Thames Path to
    Message 1 of 2 , Jun 10, 2001
      Felt I had to download yesterday fast.

      Greenwich Cyclists Ride Report
      Thames Path Fiddle
      Saturday 9 June 2001

      [10am Cutty Sark/NFT 10.45am/Thames Path to (Mortlake lunch 1.30pm) Richmond
      town centre via the two original meridians /Richmond Park (golf-course caff
      tea)/circumvelogation/Kew Bridge/Strand-on-the-Green/Duke's Meadows/Fulham
      football/Bishop's Park/Battersea Bridge/Battersea Park/NFT/London
      Bridge/Greenwich 7pm].

      On the train back from Liz's Sudbury ride only a week ago we decided to fill
      the gap in the diary..and do a ride the next Saturday. We told the Greenwich
      and Southwark e-lists and our 6 June AGM.

      So 8 of us met at CSG on a lovely warm crisp sunny morning. (Liz, Richard,
      Simon, Casey, Claudine, Julian, Ayioko..).

      I did a quick dive into the 10am opening Tourist Info Office to charm them
      some Bike Week leaflets.("7 Greenwich events, more than any other boro..").I
      was delighted to see a pile of Pedal Powers prominent on the counter....but,
      curses, why so many left? Oh, we hate to run out and photocopy loads they
      said. Excellent. They knew all about our website too. Ace customer service.
      Go be nice to them.

      Main roads to NFT where another 5 (Linda, David, Doug, Roger, Steve) were
      waiting (but none of the Southwark crew). A fine assorted bunch. Coffee in
      the sun in the familiar armpit of Waterloo Bridge. (To mention the always
      smelly men's NFT loo's (and they'd just opened for the day) might start to
      push the analogy too far). The increasing tacky tourist-trap alongside
      County Hall was already packed so we went through the middle and carried the
      bikes down the western steps of Westminster Bridge.(love the Wheel but not
      the burger tack in this non-Margate context and am I wrong to worry about
      County Hall's loss of dignity? Debunking is fine, dumpind-down isn't)....we
      then bazooka'd slowly along the prom past Terry Farrell's MI6 building.
      Great to see a new tunnel to push the prom under Vauxhall Bridge being
      worked on...guys on site said it opens around Christmas. We rode the
      pavement round the huge Vauxhall Cross building site and hit the river again
      at Nine Elms Lane two minutes later.

      Sun and lots of beaches at very low tide.

      Some fascinating houseboat culture along this stretch, I cycled the
      desperate Nine Elms motorways for years without knowing all this was there.
      Then on round Battersea Power Station, with new Victoria shuttle and
      re-building starting at last. The Dog's Home and into the southeast corner
      of Battersea Park and up to the river again. Lovely park, oddly quiet. Over
      Albert Bridge Road and onto new prom past flash flats and Norman Foster's
      all-glass HQ. Ditto Battersea Bridge Road onto prom and past the triangular
      new slab of Richard Roger's Montevetro flats. (ed: trans. Mountain of
      glass). It worried me a lot in construction.I've always loved the little
      church west of it in American colonial style and guessed it would be dwarfed
      like the Greenwich prom almshouses. Not. The church has been liberated and
      now breathes again.

      Oops. Bridge too far...that's not a road bridge it's the Battersea Reach
      rail bridge. We turned round and overed Battersea. On the pavement past the
      Cheyne Walk houseboats, the Lots Road power station (twin of less used
      Greenwich ditto that both supply power to the tube. and closes soonish. What
      use for Greenwich power station?).

      There's a glorious link between the heavy Lots power station and the new
      flats of Chelsea Harbour.and a surprising meadow. The 30 acres of flats etc
      for Sands Wharf have just started building so we edged round that site to
      the fat backside of Fulham round the Hurlingham Club...under the car-closed
      District Line arch by Putney Bridge station are bike racks..aptly
      enlightened use of reclaimed space.

      Over busy Putney Bridge and onto the towpath proper past the rowing clubs
      oar houses and scene of my nose dive onto the gravel years ago. I'd
      forgotten how rural it is along here...the Barn Elms wetlands reserve, the
      beautifully converted Harrods Suppository and under cctv'ed Hammersmith
      Bridge in new Harrods green. Richard Roger's HQ and wife Ruthie's River Café
      opposite. (I'm not into flash restaurants but if I was forced to eat

      Past the secret hidden ex-reservoir at Lonsdale Road (I'd wanted to share it
      but missed the entrance...about 15 years ago there sat watching the birds I
      found in the mud a tiny rusty metal label the size of a 50p..."The Triumph,
      an improved garden seat with teak wood from old navy ships broken up. H
      Castle and Sons. Millbank, SW1"..Tate again).

      The towpath seamlessly turned into prom pavement at Barnes so we stayed on
      it..and irritated two walkers. Pity.

      The Ship at Mortlake by the vast Wanted brewery had ok food and it was
      1.30pm. Inevitable tourist chat about noise of Heathrow low inbound planes
      here. (Do they still jettison fuel on the run-in?).Then 6 miles of quiet
      rural towpath past the disgracefully wrecked Government building by the
      brutal bunker-like Public Record Office and gorgeous Kew Gardens. Just past
      there at the Old Deer Park was a stainless steel post I'd not seen before. A
      slit in it gave sightline to an obelisk* with fine building further behind
      it. Revelation. Text told us this was the site of the original meridian that
      predated ours at Greenwich. It was only in 1884 that the world (well, some
      of it) agreed to zero-base longitude at Greenwich. The house was the King's
      Observatory with dome on top. (We speculated about the meridian staying in
      Kew...The Dome would've gone there and Greenwich would have remained
      unregenerated and we'd never have met because, unemployed, we'd all had to
      become economic migrants and moved away.).

      Richmond first lock on the Thames then Richmond riverside was busy of course
      under Quinlan Terry's pastiche cliff. Not aging well. Up the steep hill of
      Nightingale Lane. Liz Constabled and snapped us in front of his arcadian
      Thames panorama, past the sad Star and Garter Home and into Richmond Park.
      My London favourite. We did 2.5 miles of excellent 8 mile gravel track
      round the edge, and deer and super trees and green parakeets (saw several,
      heard loads more), and had tea and cakes at the golf-course café. Very
      Italian and very good. We sat on the littery grass in the hot sun. The
      lemony cheesecake was too high on sugar/too easy on the mozzarella. The
      strawberry ditto was better reviewed. So much better than Pembroke Lodge
      which has a fine building and one of London's best views but permanent café
      queues. Odd that golfers clack around in cleats too.

      Then the other 6 or so miles of gravel and out of the park . A rain shower
      and it got cold. Roger took the lead..down Kew Road and over that bridge and
      onto the north bank version of the towpath..Georgian Strand on the Green
      cottages, river lapping onto the road here, now high tide. Now sunny again.
      Surprisingly huge expanse of Duke's Meadows, then Fulham, past the Rogers's,
      Fulham Football ground and into Bishop's Park by the palace. (In one of the
      Exorcist (I think) films Dr Who/Patrick Trough ton got kebab by the church's
      javelin-like lightning conductor here. The huge rustling plane trees here
      always seem slightly spooky). Then under Putney Bridge to retrace our route.
      back over Battersea Bridge, thro park etc.

      It being a sort of exit-menu ride, some rode off to central London, a couple
      went for the Barnes train to Waterloo.and the rest of us went on to the
      South Bank again. I'm not clear what happened but we lost half. The 3 of us
      drifted past Tate Modern and Norman (ask the engineers) Foster's Millennium
      Bridge. One decided to train it back from London Bridge to Greenwich from
      there. Richard and I hit the road to Greenwich.

      I'm always a bit sad when rides dissolve away like that, instant
      post-mortems are always fun. But, good day out in rural London with huge
      amount to take in and a route with endless permutations and drop-off/train
      back points.

      And all on my big London A-Z. Amazing. And the trip meters said 50 miles.
      None of us felt we'd done anything like that, but my trusty string and OS
      map just proved it.

      A cheap, self-propelled, re-affirmation of life, and life, in the great

      OS Landranger 176: West London Area has the lot, from Bermondsey on.

      Thames fiddle
      10 June 2001
    • roger@jollyrog.com
      Barry, A good write-up. I started at Cutty Sark Gardens (I know I m easy to forget) and my gizmo says it was about 55 miles back to Greenwich, before the
      Message 2 of 2 , Jun 10, 2001

        A good write-up. I started at Cutty Sark Gardens (I know I'm easy to
        forget) and my gizmo says it was about 55 miles back to Greenwich, before
        the batteries ran out!

        A very enjoyable day, as usual. Thanks to all those that came along.

        Simon and I tried to find you and Richard near the Tate Modern but we
        didn't have any luck. We too went back to Greenwich, mostly by the Thames
        path. It was a shame that we got separated but no matter, the bulk of the
        ride had been done by then.



        Roger Seaward
        +44 7956 254836
        (07956 254836 in the UK)
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