Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Travel Tuesday : The Thames Path, day 12 - Shepperton to Kingston

Walked on June 1, 2002.

This stretch of the river would take me almost to my "neighborhood" -- or at least a place I spent time. I took the bus to Kingston upon Thames, and from there took a train to Shepperton.

I retraced my steps to the King's Head Pub, where I had finished walking the previous day. Looking at the picture now I notice the flyer on the lamppost, which was a "missing" poster for Milly Dowler, a schoolgirl who went missing that summer. Her sweet young face and eager smile was all over the British papers for months. She disappeared on March 21, 2002 somewhere between leaving Walton-on-Thames station and her home, a 15-minute walk away. When I walked the Thames Path no trace of her had been found; her remains were found in September of that year. When I last thought of her, several years ago, her killer hadn't been found. And now I read that a serial killer who was in prison for killing two other women was convicted of her murder in 2011.

When I walked from the station to the river in Shepperton and saw so many "Have You Seen Milly" posters in the shops, I realized that I was very near where she was abducted.

This stretch of the path was the first one where there were CHOICES. 

You can take a route that diverts up and through towns. Or, if you're lucky, you can do what the old barge teams did, and take the Shepperton Ferry!

You see how narrow the river is, and (if you look at the map), how much longer the route is if you can't cross. So I was very happy to take the little ferry across.

Now on the south bank of the river, I soon came to a private footbridge and could see the chalet on tiny D'Oyly Carte Island.

A little further along I diverted from the main path along the cut to follow the trail around the edge of Desborough Island, where I spotted another coal post.

I crossed back over the cut at the eastern edge of the island and looked back along Desborough Cut ... soooo straight! The cut was dug in 1935 and named after the longest-serving chairman of the Thames Conservancy, Lord Desborough.

Here's the view downstream from Desborough Island:

Near this point -- difficult to discern -- is Coway Stakes. Somewhere near these riverside cottages is the place where Caesar crossed the Thames in pursuit of Cassivelaunus in 54 BCE.

A little farther along I came to ugly Walton Bridge.

There have been multiple bridges on the site over the years, including a beauty of a wooden bridge designed in 1750 by William Etheridge, who also designed the (much smaller) Mathematical Bridge in Cambridge. This first bridge was painted by Canaletto in 1754:

"Walton Bridge" by Canaletto, Dulwich Picture Gallery
It was replaced in 1788 with a stone bridge designed by James Paine... painted by Turner in 1805:

"Walton Bridges" by Turner, Tate Gallery

A third bridge, made of iron girders, was built in the 1860s after part of the stone bridge collapsed in 1859:

This bridge was damaged in World War II, and replaced by a fourth bridge:

By Oliver White, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=495867
Apparently this bridge was declared unsafe for cars, but was kept open for pedestrians and cyclists. And the bridge I photographed was built as a "temporary structure" and opened in 1999. But, as with so many things, it's changed since 2002! Meet the sixth Walton Bridge, opened in 2013:

Even though I hadn't gone particularly far, it was impossible to resist the call of the sunny, riverside terrace at The Weir pub. They had a barbecue cooking up massive sausages, and the sound of the water rushing over the weir drowned out most of the conversations. It made me daydream about living close to a nice pub like this someday.

Refreshed I went back to the path, passing the twin Sunbury locks.

And looking downriver toward Molesey:

The path wandered by the Molesey reservoirs, not particularly scenic. But I did enjoy spotting this DANGER INTAKE, which, I suppose is where danger is added to the Thames water...

And I passed these anti-tank blocks, part of the defences of greater London:

As I got closer to Hampton I passed an area called Hurst Park, which is what remains of Moulsey Hurst. My notes say "During droughts the river could become too shallow for boats, and heavily laden barges could be held up for weeks. The teams of bored haulers helped lend the Hurst its bad reputation and it also was favored for prize fights and duels." In 1814 Moulsey (now Molesey) lock was built, and the Hurst became a racecourse, and Molesey lock eventually became the most popular lock on the river during the late 1800s and the early 1900s, the heyday of the Molesey Regatta.

There's Hampton Church across the river...

And then -- looking back towards Garrick's Ait, there's the actor's house and the little temple he built to house a statue of Shakespeare. Awww.

I admired this lovely boat (and swans) near Hampton:

And then came to what could only be described as "mansionboats".

Molesey Lock gave me a chance to see the slipway and boat rollers, to move lighter boats without needing to use the lock chambers.

Just past the lock I arrived at pretty Hampton Court Bridge, designed by W.P. Robinson for Sir Edwin Lutyens. The bridge was begun in 1930 and is made of concrete faced with hand-made red bricks of Portland stone in the style of the Wren portions of Hampton Court. The bridge was opened in 1933 by the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII, who abdicated and became Duke of Windsor):

Just across the bridge I saw the beautiful Hampton Court gatehouse:

I love Hampton Court -- I once went to an all-day workshop with the Royal School of Needlework in part because it is held within the palace! I love these dragon guardians outside the palace.

I followed the Barge Walk (*cough* towpath *cough*) that follows the edge of the palace grounds. William III's banqueting house sticks out a bit, and you can see this 9th-century flood mark:

Farther along you can see the privy garden and the south wing, built by Wren for William III.

The river just keeps curving around, and eventually Kingston bridge (and John Lewis behind it) came into view:

I crossed the bridge and looked back upstream. It was interesting to realize that I wouldn't be in the countryside along the path again... at least until I went into the estuary.

Next up: a long day from Kingston to my flat in Putney!

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