The Thames riverside is London's undervalued playground, and walks alongside the river do not get much better than this. We start at Barnes Bridge, and before you say that it is hard to get to this part of London, think again. There is a railway station right beside the bridge, and you can reach it in only 23 minutes from London Waterloo. There are 7 trains per hour. The station is in Zone 3, so if you travel after 9.30am a Zones 1 - 4 One Day Travelcard is a very affordable choice indeed, and you have the freedom of travel by bus, train, Tube and Tram in these zones for the rest of the day.
Even better, why not take a Tube to Hammersmith. From there frequent buses 209 or 419 will take you to Barnes Bridge in 10 - 20 minutes. Just wait until you see the river after the last stop in Barnes, and press the bell to alight at Barnes Bridge. Buses run every 3 minutes, and the bus station is above the Underground up the escalators. The buses depart from bus stop C and you can wait in the warm and dry, or visit the shopping mall and have a coffee before you leave. Simple.
The walk from Barnes is easy and flat. You can download my instructions and photographs with GPS tracking from our sponsor Walking World (small charge payable) or just follow along using the audio on your iPod or MP3 player as usual.
The Boat Race course is actually 4.5 miles, so we do not follow the entire loop of the river, but walk up Barnes High Street past the pond to St Mary's Church. From there we pass the famed Wetland Centre and return to the river bank via Queen Elizabeth Walk. If you have time, why not include a visit to the Wetland Centre?......
After returning to the river, we pass Fulham Football Ground on the opposite bank, then pass a number of school and college boat houses before reaching St Mary's Church by Putney Bridge. Here is 1647 the Putney Debates were held by the New Model Army. The radical concept of 'one man one vote' was discussed, but the fledgling democratic proposal was crushed two years later by Oliver Cromwell.
The final portion of this walk takes us through the newly refurbished Fulham Palace. For hundreds of years, these palatial grounds were the summer residence of the bishops of London, until in the 1970's the land was leased to the local authority by the Church Commissioners. There is a botanic garden and a museum in the Palace.
Finally, we pass through the old pottery making district (there is still an old 'bottle kiln' belonging to Fulham Pottery beside the road) before we finish the walk at Putney Bridge Underground. Putney Bridge (Zone 2) is on the District Line from where there are frequent trains to Earls Court and the City of London, or via Kensington and Paddington to Edgware Road.
- London Walks Riverside Walk from Barnes to Putney website.
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