Inglesham: Path switched from road to riverside

There is good news for anyone setting out on the Thames Path this half term week.

When you reach Inglesham in Wiltshire you will not have to call a taxi to avoid a dangerous road walk. You can now follow the river.

Until this autumn the way upstream from Inglesham Church involved a detour of almost two miles which included a mile long walk on a main road to Upper Inglesham.

This road had become increasingly busy since the Thames path opened 20 years ago.

In quieter times the Thames Path passing through Upper Inglesham at least had the advantage of being handy for a now closed YHA hostel.

Isolated Inglesham Church, just outside Lechlade, is delightful and unspoilt thanks to William Morris who stopped unnecessary restoration.

So on reaching the lane at Inglesham many walkers go right for a short distance to look inside.

Turning right will now be normal. No need to go left for the main road.

On leaving the church go down the churchyard steps to cross the quiet lane and take a wide mature grass path opposite.

After a stream/ditch go right to the river and turn upstream.

New signage and gates help to make the way easy to understand.

The new route turns inland along the Bydemill Brook to join the existing line from the end of the long path out of Upper Ingelsham.

This is the point where the path fords the brook.

The new Inglesham riverside path avoiding the main road was discussed 35 years ago and backed by the Ramblers’ Association thirty years ago.

This is a major and very welcome improvement to the Thames Path.

Battersea: Lombard Wharf opens

Lombard Wharf seen through the newly opened railway arch

Lombard Wharf in London’s Battersea is now open.

The new building on the site is a controversial 28 storey Barratt Homes tower block. But there is  planning gain.

The wharf is on the upstream  side of Battersea Railway Bridge.

Walking upstream from central London along Albion Quay you come up against the railway bridge. In the past you had to turn inland and briefly join the main road.

Now you can keep away from traffic by passing under the railway bridge and walk directly on to Lombard Wharf where there is a wide new stretch of Thames Path.

Lombard Wharf looking downstream

 

NEW DIRECTIONS after the Old Battersea House entry on page 45:

The path passes along Albion Quay before running under Battersea Railway Bridge.

Battersea Railway Bridge opened in 1863 to                                           carry both standard and GWR broad-gauge trains                         between Clapham and Willesden junctions.

Walk along Lombard and Regent Wharves to pass Oyster Pier. Cross a drawbridge leading to a Falcon Wharf and follow the path inland down the side of Battersea Heliport,

 

Lombard Wharf’s new tower

Marlow diversion

Slipway at Marlow

The entry into Marlow always requires leaving the water early to find Seven Corner Alley where the towing horses were led into the town.

Until next March walkers are leaving the water even earlier.

There is a temporary diversion beginning just after you have gone under the Marlow Bypass.

Instead of staying by the water on  a narrow towpath by houses go right inland to reach Gossmore Lane at a gate.

Turn left along the residential way to find the road becoming Mill Road where the Thames Path usually joins.

Also, upstream opposite Bishop Abbey until the beginning of October there is a minor diversion parallel with the towpath to allow for surfacing work.

Rotherhithe’s Norwegian and US links

Anchor in St Olav Square recalls maritime links
Flowers in the walled St Olav Square

Rotherhithe has a new feature.

Public toilets, famous for having Ladies and Gentleman boards in Norwegian, have given way to an extended space  in front of the Norwegian Church.

St Olav Square was inaugurated this month by Princess Astrid who also unveiled a bust of King Haakon VII.

Haakon brought his exiled government to London during the Second World War. His wife was Maud, daughter of Edward VII, who died shortly before the outbreak of war with Germany.

The Mayflower pub

Today quiet Rotherhithe is preparing for another significant occasion.

In 2020 there will be celebrations to mark the 400th anniversary of The Mayflower sailing with the Pilgrim Fathers to America.

The ship left from a jetty behind today’s Mayflower pub which in 1620 was called The Shippe inn.

Captain Christopher Jones, who took The Mayflower ship to America via Southampton and Plymouth, returned and is buried in St Mary’s Church.

Another focus in 2020 will be the striking Christopher Jones figure in the churchyard. The statue by Jamie Sargeant was unveiled in July  1995.

The Mayflower left for Southampton in July 1620 and the many possibilities for the July 2020 programme includes a visit by President Donald Trump who will be completing his term of office.

Remains of Mayflower jetty
Christopher Jones statue

 

Vauxhall & Nine Elms diversions

Start of the diversion in Albert Embankment
Diversion sign at Lack’s Dock

The Thames Super Sewer project work is now affecting the Thames Path around Vauxhall.

After Lambeth Bridge, the path follows the Albert Embankment where the road gradually leaves the riverside allowing the path to be separated from traffic by welcome grass.

However, where the path once went ahead between a building and the water there is now a diversion. Don’t go through the temporary barrier even if it is open – you won’t get far.

Turn inland by the building (number 93) to follow the Albert Embankment main road.

But a few yards beyond Cafe 89 (right) turn right into Lack’s Dock to return to the river and follow an enclosed path along the back (riverside) of the MI6 Vauxhall Cross building.

The tunnel under Vauxhall Bridge is now closed so climb the steps and go left to use the road crossing. On the far side of the bridge approach turn right and soon find a path on the left running down to the Thames Path on St George Wharf.

Path at MI6
Tunnel closed

There is a further diversion a little further on at Nine Elms.

This is at Bourne Valley Wharf where the proposed Pimlico footbridge may land.

From here one must go inland and cross the Nine Elms Lane main road. At once turn right to continue upstream.

This may seem a long way from the river but there is a good view of the moat being dug for the new US Embassy.

Soon after Waitrose it is possible to go back to the opposite side of the main road by using a pedestrian crossing and return to the river by passing between tall buildings.

The Super Sewer work should be completed by 2023.

Telegraph’s river pub winners

The Telegraph’s 20 Best Beer Gardens in London includes five by the River Thames.

The Gipsy Moth in Greenwich and The Ship at Wandsworth are on the Thames Path.

The three others on the list are The Gun at Coldharbour in Docklands, City Barge at Strand-on-the-Green and The White Swan at Twickenham.

The latter two are of course on the alternative left bank offered by the National Trial but not on the towpath.

Meanwhile a campaign to encourage pubs along the Thames to use more washable plastic glasses rather than single-use plastic glasses has been launched by Thames21, London’s waterways charity.

Plastic glasses are one of the top ten objects washed up on the Thames foreshore.

The Thames Friendly Pubs initiative has the backing of food expert and campaigner Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.

Wandsworth riverside path saved

A bid to extend a private garden across the Thames riverside path at Wandsworth has been stopped by the planning authority

At present the path adjoining Wandsworth Park has no upstream exit so does not yet form part of the Thames Path.

However, it has long been London-wide policy to secure the riverside for public enjoyment where possible.

The decision by Wandsworth Council is being welcomed by the Friends of Wandsworth Park.

Request to make riverside path private

New & Old Lammas Day

The Shard and Southwark Cathedral

Tuesday 1 August is Lammas Day when when the first wheat from the harvest is made into a loaf to be the bread consecrated with the wine at a thanksgiving Mass.

Lammas comes from an Anglo Saxon word meaning loaf mass. The ancient custom predates the autumn harvest festival.

There will be the blessing of bread in Borough Market followed by a procession to nearby Southwark Cathedral where the bread will be offered at Mass and consecrated as the Body of Christ.

The Blessing of bread is at Bread Ahead in Cathedral Street at 12.15pm.

Upstream at Cricklade in Wiltshire the hay has been cut on North Meadow where Lammas Day marks the start of grazing. However, the town still observes the old calendar so the gate will not be opened until Old Lammas Day on 12 August.

This later date was when harvest was more likely to have started but this year walkers will find harvest already under way all along the river.

Staines-on-Thames recreation ground is Lammas land where the barons gathered in 1215 before meeting King John on Runnymede to secure Magna Carta.

Chimney: Saving the Duxford floodplain

The Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust (BBOWT) is hoping to extend its protection of meadowland at Chimney which is midway between Newbridge and Tadpole Bridges.

The Trust wishes to buy the Duxford floodplain opposite Chimney and on the south side of the Shifford Lock Cut.

The land is downstream of Tenfoot Bridge with the Old Thames as its eastern boundary.

In the early days, the Thames Path followed the Old Thames to the ford at Duxford before passing through Duxford Farm and rejoining the towpath at Tenfoot Bridge.

In the 1980s the towpath alongside Chimney meadows was overgrown and rarely used.

BBOWT has launched an appeal for £220,000 to be raised by 30 September to purchase the 113 acres which at present is unprotected.

 

From the Sea to the Source