Benson Ferry launched

A ferry boat named Ferret will operate at Benson from Sunday 7 May.

This service is being introduced whilst the foot crossing at Benson Lock is closed. Repair which has yet to commence is expected to take some time.

The ferry is to run upstream of the lock daily from 8am to 6pm; tickets £2 (child £1).

The landing on the Benson bank is at the Waterfront Cafe.


Nuneham Bridge: Thames Path closed

Nuneham Railway Bridge today from the south side. The Thames Path is across the water.

LATEST: On Wed 5 April Thames Path National Trail office said that the path is open. Updates expected from Network Rail over coming days.


The Thames Path is closed under Nuneham Railway Bridge.

The bridge is thought to have developed a structural fault, maybe due to flooding, and trains have stopped crossing the river.

Nuneham is a remote area between Abingdon and Radley.

Walkers reaching Abingdon may wish to catch the bus to Radley (or take a road route) where you can rejoin the river above Nuneham Bridge.

There is a shuttle train from Oxford Station to Radley Station.

Those wishing to travel by train between London Paddington and Oxford are having to change at Didcot Parkway and use a replacement bus services.

Disruption is expected to continue beyond Easter Bank Holiday Monday and into Easter Week.


Rotherhithe Illuminate

St Mary’s Church Rotherhithe

Walkers on the Thames Path over the past week at dusk have been noticing the spire on Rotherhithe Church tower lit up.

It is also being seen from some distance away including by those crossing London and Tower Bridges.

The unannounced switch-on had been long planned and is made possible by the US Embassy downstream at Nine Elms. Rotherhithe has a resonance for the USA as it was from there that the Mayflower set out for America with the Pilgrim Fathers.

The 400th anniversary was commemorated by the Speaker of the House of Commons Sir Lindsay Hoyle and the Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi with low key ceremonies during the pandemic.

The Christopher Jones memorial in the churchyard is also illuminated until 11pm. Jones was Master of the Mayflower and after bringing her back from America he continued to live in Rotherhithe until his death in 1622. His statue by Jamie Sargeant was commissioned to mark the 375th anniversary of the voyage to America in 1995.

An official switch-on ceremony on the riverside is expected to be announced shortly.

Christopher Jones statue in the churchyard

Dust puzzle on Greenwich Peninsula

Willows showing signs of spring on 4 March at Tunnel Wharf.

The East Greenwich Residents Association has expressed concern about dust blowing along the Thames Path on Saturday 4 March.

The epicentre appeared to be at Tunnel Wharf, between Morden Wharf and downstream Bay Wharf, where work was in progress on that Saturday morning.

This section of path is well-known for its willow trees which are under threat of being felled.

A spokesperson for the nearby upstream Victoria Deep Water Terminal, which once had tunnels to shelter walkers, says that the dust is unlikely to have emanated from its operations.

‘As a result of our recent investment the plant has extensive mitigation measures built in, including for dust suppression.’

Dust on trees and beach (Photo: East Greenwich Residents Association)

Blessing the River

Southwark Cathedral procession on the Thames Path passing under the 1831 Rennie arch of the earlier London Bridge.

The annual Blessing of the River Thames t0ok place on Baptism Sunday 8 January with prayers for those working on the river. A wooden cross, inspired by the Epiphany Orthodox tradition on twelfth day of Christmas, is cast into the water.

Processions of clergy and congregation from Southwark Cathedral on the south bank and St Magnus the Martyr Church on the north bank met in the middle of London Bridge’s downstream side.

St Magnus, the northern gateway church, has the pavement of Old London Bridge, which was a different alignment, running through the base of tower entrance. The church also displays a model of Old London Bridge.

Pictures by Claire Meunier.

The Southwark procession on London Bridge.
St Magnus approaches from the City.
The Cardinal Rector of St Magnus, Fr Philip Warner, and the Dean of Southwark, The Very Revd Andrew Nunn, holding the cross before it is thrown down to the water.
The Rector of St Magnus sprinkles the crowd with holy water with The Shard in the distance.
Dean Andrew Nunn sprinkles the crowd with holy water.

Virginia Woolf on the path at Richmond

Ludo Woolf meets his great great aunt Virginia Woolf

A statue of Virginia Woolf has been unveiled on the Thames Path at Richmond.

The writer lived in the town for a decade from 1914 and liked to walk along the Thames every day.

Now she is depicted sitting on a long seat where today’s walkers can join her to look at the river.

Virginia and her husband Leonard lived at Hogarth House in Paradise Road where they founded the Hogarth Press on the kitchen table.

At first the couple published their own work on a small hand-printing press but later expanded the business to include work by emerging authors such as Katherine Mansfield.

The first UK edition of TS Eliot’s The Wasteland was published a century ago by the Hogarth Press with the typesetting for the 450 copies being undertaken by Virginia.

The bronze figure is by Laury Dizengremel and was unveiled by Virginia Woolf’s great great nieces Sophie Partridge and Emma Woolf.

The ceremony took place on Wednesday afternoon as the tide fell to one of its lowest levels during the current draw-off when the lock gates are left open to allow for the riverbed to be exposed.

The seat with Virginia Woolf can be found up a few steps on Richmond Riverside opposite the former Jesus College Oxford barge immediately downstream of Richmond Bridge.


Day’s Lock Meadow saved

Day’s Lock: Looking downstream to Wittenham Clumps

Day’s Lock Meadow beside the River Thames has been voluntarily registered by landowner Keith Ives.

Mr Ives bought the land in 2020 and, as a person with a strong sense of community, agreed voluntarily to register the site so that it can continue to be enjoyed by the public.

Thanks to a long campaign by residents of nearby Dorchester-on-Thames and the Open Spaces Society, the meadow has been added to the village green register.

The struggle began in 2016 when an earlier landowner of Bishops Court Farm erected fencing.

Keith Ives has also made it possible for the nearby ancient Dyke Hills, crossed if walking into Dorchester, to be registered at the same time.

Kate Ashbrook, general secretary of the Open Spaces Society, says: ‘We are delighted to have helped secure people’s access to these special place for ever. 

‘We congratulate the residents for their perseverance and determination, and we thank Mr Ives most warmly for his gift to the community.  He is a fine example to other landowners.  The society is encouraging landowners voluntarily to register their land as greens to protect it for public enjoyment.

Keith Ives with campaigners Louise Aukland and Becky Waller on Dyke Hills

Island named after Liz Truss ancestor

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss, current favourite to win the Conservative leadership and become Prime Minister, is a descendant of the City of London’s famous Navigation Clerk of Works Charles Truss.

Truss’s Island in the River Thames is named after him.

The island, restored in 1992 with water again on all sides, is on the right bank between Laleham and Staines.

The stone, bearing the City Corporation shield and the island’s name, was placed in the centre in 1804 but has the date 1774 which is the year Charles Truss was appointed.

The City, responsible for the Thames as far as Staines, had allowed the river to become so obstructed and towpaths so eroded that it was in danger of losing its ancient rights.

Truss spent 36 years restoring the river, which saw a huge increase in traffic with the opening of the Thames and Severn Canal.

The island is largely inhabited by swans and Canada geese leaving little room for visitors seeking out the blackberries hanging down to the water.

The towpath is on the left bank and although from a distance the wooded island on the right bank appears to merge with the background it’s easily located by the swans. They often cross the river tempted by a constant offering of bread from walkers despite a recently posted notice from the Queen’s Swan Marker asking people to desist from feeding.

Another descendant of Charles Truss is The Revd Richard Truss, Liz Truss’s uncle, who has served in riverside parishes of Shepperton and Waterloo.

Swans on the landing steps of Truss’s Island.
One of two bridges for accessing the island.
information board near the island.

Wandsworth: Riverside Quarter diversion

The view upstream having left the River Wandle.

It is like a sudden return to the recent past to find the new path at Wandsworth’s Riverside Quarter closed after being able to enjoy it.

Bur construction is not over.

After crossing the River Wandle go right with the Wandle to reach the confluence with the Thames. But on turning upstream on the Thames you must divert.

Bear half left up shallow steps to join Eastfields Avenue. Go right along the road as far as the post box (right). Here turn right past the shop to return to the river at Wandsworth Riverside Pier.

The diversion does offer the opportunity to easily visit the award-winning Cat’s Back pub. To do so continue past the post box for a few yards into Point Pleasant and look left.

The diversion is likely to be in place until at least the autumn.

Postbox and shop
Wandsworth Riverside Quarter Pier
The Cat’s Back in Point Pleasant near the river.

Greenwich Peninsula willows to go

View upstream

On Tuesday Greenwich Council is being asked to approve a planning application which will result in the loss of riverside willow trees on the Thames Path.

The application is for the construction of conveyor belts over the Thames Path at Tunnel Wharf and associated refurbishment works to the jetty.

Tunnel Wharf is next to the north side of Morden Wharf on Greenwich Peninsula.

The report to the planning committee confirms that ‘as a result of these works the existing willow trees that are growing into the revetment will be felled’.

Planned ecological improvements include possible unspecified replacement trees and a widening of the Thames Path.

Transport for London, which is not objecting to the application, has expressed satisfaction that there will be no detrimental impact on the amenity of the Thames Path.

The report before councillors claims that the willows are not of a high quality
with the Royal Borough confirming that it has no objection to their felling.

Comments should be sent by Friday to marked Planning Case Reference: 19/3298/F

Looking downstream
Further downstream
Willows on the path seen from the river with Bay Wharf boatyard to the left