London Bridge 800th anniversary

There is some confusion I learn over the date of the 800th anniversary fair on London Bridge.

It is NOT this weekend 28 March. The date was changed when it was realised that it would clash with the G20 demonstations in the City.

The new date is Saturday 11 July. It will be a rare chance to stand on a traffic free bridge and see sheep being driven across.

More details nearer the time.

Not naked

Oxfam’s Fabric 4 Life campaign, which is encouraging walkers to bring their old outdoor gear for refurbishment and resale, is being promoted by Fiona Lincoln and Mark Stephenson who are walking naked to the Outdoors Show at Birmingham.

You might see them  on the Thames Path between Tower Bridge in London and Oxford where they turn north.

They will miss Claire and Phil who are currently walking in aid of Breakthrough Breast Cancer.

They are happy to have ‘guests’ join them on the stages and for other walkers to stop and say hello.

The clothed pair can be followed on their website (http://happythames.wordpress.com) as they fill the gaps. This month they have completed Oxford to Radley.

The difficult sections between Farmoor and Cricklade come next and are probably best tackled as the days get longer and warmer.

I look forward to their comments on the Oxfordshire public transport.

How do you spot them? Look out for the yellow Mr Happy peeping out of  a ruckdack.

Rotherhithe diversion

This afternoon I had a look at the diversion at Rotherhithe which will last until at least June.

So far Southwark Council has not put up any diversion signs.

It’s complicated because there are currently two closures caused by building work at Rotherhithe’s King’s Stairs. The first, which prevents an early return to the river at the end of the narrowed Rotherhithe Street, will be reopened by the end of this month. It is the blockage to the west at the end of the riverside arcade that is the big problem.

The best temporary route is to keep to Rotherhithe Street as far as King’s Stairs. Turn left (inland) along Elephant Lane. At a junction do not go ahead into Mayflower Street but turn right into a park. Follow the path to a second junction just before St Peter & The Guardian Angels Church. Bear right on a curving path which leads back to the river. Soon you pass The Angel pub.

This problem which has caused numerous walkers to try a dead end behind houses is now annoying residents. The situation is a good example of how closures in London are left to the local council. The national trails office does not have any responsibility for the Thames Path in the capital.

There is more chance of getting information about a sudden closure on a remote Oxfordshire towpath than in central London.

See pages page 25.

Lechlade diversion

The very last stretch of towpath between Lechlade and the Round House near Inglesham has been closed for urgent repair work.

The problem is confined to where the path leaves Wiltshire for Gloucestershire but the only alternative is through the town.

The diversion is across Halfpenny Bridge and ahead up Thames Street to the High Street. Turn left to pass a handy teashop and where the houses end go left down a signposted track which runs south past Willow Tree Farm. At the end is the confluence with the River Colne and the last bridge over the navigable Thames.

The towpath is expected to reopen by Saturday 4 April just before the Easter holidays.

See pages 195 & 196.

Fawley Court sold to Urs Schwarzenbach

Fawley Court just north of Henley has been sold by the Polish Marian order.

The purchaser is Urs Schwarzenbach who owns Thames-Side Court on the edge of Shiplake to the south of Henley. Thames-Side Court is well-known for its narrow gauge railway which can be seen from the Thames Path.

The Fawley Court mansion comes into view across the water from the towpath at Remenham on the last leg into Henley on the Regatta course. The building dates from the 1680s and since 1953 has been in the hands of Polish Marians of the Immaculate Conception who used to run a school there.

For a time it was known as Poland-on-Thames due to the Pentecost festivals held in the grounds and attended by hundreds of Poles.

The house is  contender for the original Toad Hall in The Wind in the Willows along with upstream Hardwick House.

No word yet about the future of Fawley Court. Will Mr Schwarzenbach move there from Shipklake or turn the mansion into a hotel?

See pages 14 , 120 and 131.