Thames Path: Threat to lock-keeper jobs

Increasing concern all along the Thames about the Environment Agency plans to reduce the number lock and weir-keepers is being highlighted this morning with a demonstration in central London.

Environment Agency and GMB union officials are holding joint talks on staffing levels.

The GMB is to stress the important work of Richard Hawkins, resident lock and weir-keeper at Abingdon, who rescued someone in the river at 7.30am last Saturday as the storm subsided.

The lock-keeper then steered a narrow boat, which had come adrift from its mooring by the ferocity of the current, across the river and secured the vessel safely.

Earlier this month the same lock-keeper had rescued a young boy who slipped into the floods and was in danger of being swept into the weir.

The EA has pursued a plan which would see more keepers’ cottages becoming high rent holiday homes.

This is a huge change in policy since it is the on-site lock-keepers who know and watch the river and have been able to control the flow using the weir alongside the locks.

No flooding is not news but it allows the river to be used and enjoyed. Employing lock-keepers is cheaper than cleaning up after annual floods.

Lovell’s Wharf: New plans on show

Lovell’s Wharf in Greenwich is holding a consultation following the submitting of a new planning application.

Lovell’s Wharf is on the Greenwich peninsula just before the Thames Path reaches the Cutty Sark pub.

The plan is to extend the residential development north along the riverside to cover the existing Badcock’s Wharf boatyard which will move a little further north to Bay Wharf.

The first phase of the Lovell’s Wharf development alongside Pelton Road was as controversial as the present proposals.

The work caused confusing temporary diversions of the Thames Path .

If approval is granted by Greenwich Council for the revised plan to complete the full scheme then work will start this year and continue until 2018.

The good news is that the intention over the next four years is to keep the path by the river open almost all the time. Any closures will be notified on this website whenever possible.

As elsewhere on the peninsula, the riverside path is to be separated from the cycleway in front of Lovell’s Wharf when it embraces Granite Wharf, Badcock’s Wharf and Piper’s Wharf.

The consultation exhibition is open for a final day on Thursday 20th February at The Forum@Greenwich in Trafalgar Road from 3pm to 8pm.

Water at Thames Source

What is  it like at the Thames source at Kemble in Gloucestershire?

It is very rare to find water there but there is now.

You usually have to walk downstream for about about a quarter of a mile to cross the Fosse Way before finding water.

George Monbiot has made a film for The Guardian showing his visit to the source last week.

In the short film he also goes to Hurley near Marlow where he takes to a canoe and finds The Olde Bell closed.

Deptford Creek: Swing foot bridge work starts

Work has begun on the Deptford Creek pedestrian swing bridge.

The new crossing is at the entrance of Deptford Creek.

Most of the work is on Granophast Wharf where Galliard Homes has built flats incorporating a Waitrose.

The bridge should be available to walkers and cyclists at the end of the year. The Thames Path will, when the development is completed, be rerouted to stay by the river between Wood Wharf and the Peter the Great statue just upstream of Deptford Creek.

At present the Thames Path runs inland via Norway Street, by the closed Rose & Crown pub, to cross Creek Road’s swing bridge.

Thames Path: Severe flood warnings Shepperton to Windsor

Today, Monday 10 February, there is no point in walking upstream from Richmond to Windsor.

There are flood warnings as far as Shepperton and then it’s severe all the way to Datchet village.

Runnymede and Windsor Home Park are now flooded and water has already entered Datchet. Some water appears to have come down the railway line from Ham Island end which has had problems for some time.

Wallingford: Benson Lock Diversion

Today is not a day for walking out of Wallingford and along the Thames Path since water is rising following heavy rainfall upstream.

However the current diversion caused by works at nearby Benson Lock is likely to remain in place for some time.

Walkers going upstream must cross Wallingford Bridge and follow an inland route north along Benson Lane. At Preston Crowmarsh you briefly walk alongside a main road before turning left into another lane which leads to the Benson Lock exit.

Vauxhall: Thames Path now open

The Thames Path at Vauxhall’s St George Wharf has now opened.

The eastern section adjoining Vauxhall Bridge has been open since 2003 but it has taken a decade to complete the residential development at the upstream end.

Now the need to turn inland via Tesco and cross  a main road twice has vanished. You avoid traffic by walking under Vauxhall Bridge and along the front of the Wharf building to find yourself on Elm Quay.

What some may regret is that the Thames Path will cease to pass the lovely 18th-century Brunswick House  which has held out against developers. It’s worth taking the old diversion just to have lunch there.

The new riverside path is across the site of a timber yard run by the occupants of Brunswick House.