The River Thames towpath gravel cycle ride from Putney to Hampton court is just under 26 kilometres long and can be completed in a hour and a bit (plus the time taken to get to Putney or Hampton Court) making it a convenient London ride for when time poor. I often combine it with the train (30 mins) either to go to Hampton Court or return from there.
I have written about the ride sometime ago calling it the ‘Utopian Cycling – Putney Bridge to Hampton Court’ tour the title reflecting that along the river banks there are many stories to be told. The reference to utopia is because not only were the ‘liberties of man’ discussed at the ‘Putney Debates’ at Putney but also traces can be found of a movement which promoted the ideas of working with nature and not to dominate it – this was the philosophy of the ‘Arcadians’ who could be a bit soppy at times.
The ride isn’t hard although being gravel most of the way, with a few cobbles and muddy in winter etc. or after a high tide (some sections flood). In recent years more and more sections have been sanitised to allow easier access. I pedal this route so as to get a quick spin in during the week (too busy with dreaded dog walkers etc. at the weekends). I have ridden it multiple times in one session and this ride combined with a day out undertaking ‘The Three Pimples’ got me fit for the Paris Roubaix Sportive five times (including 2010 and 2012).
The ride also plays a part in my ‘Roubaixesque’ London adventures.
This is the ‘Utopian Cycling – Putney Bridge to Hampton Court’ ride in pictures.
The start at Putney close by the ‘Putney debates’ were held.
And the finish if coming from Hampton Court.
A mini Harrods now private housing but which was once the Harrods Depository.
Duck under Hammersmith Bridge on route to Hampton Court.
The view of the river from under Hammersmith Bridge.
Barnes Railway Bridge if coming from Hampton Court and just past the bridge was the home of composer Gustav Holst.
A cobbled section alongside ‘The Stag Mortlake Brewery’ if coming from Hampton Court.
The ‘Stag Mortlake Brewery’ is a sign of the industrial heritage along the Thames and next door is the Ship Public House. The wharf here is now redundant like so many others including ‘Small Profit Dock’.
My favourite bridge the Kew Railway Bridge – it just looks cool.
Under the Kew Railway Bridge.
Kew Railway Bridge when coming from Hampton Court. It’s a listed bridge featuring what looks like a Gothic style south riverside bridge footing.
Kew road traffic Bridge on the otherside is Brentford which was ransacked by the Royalists during the English Civil War.
Kew Bridge when coming from Hampton Court, nearby are the famous Kew Botanical Gardens.
Looking across from Kew toward the entrance to the River Brent which in turn leads into the Grand Union Canal.
Someone has put his bike in front of the Arcadian view of Syon House.
The Arcadian view of Syon House note the ‘natural’ river bank here. The house itself is a trend setter because when it was built it moved away from the great hall style to one that bought in the modern age of household interior design and the use of rooms in a manner we understand today.
To the left is Syon House across the river – to the right (from Hampton Court) are Kew Gardens.
An Arcadian ‘Ha Ha’ separates our picnic bench from Kew Gardens.
Richmond Lock Footbridge when coming from Hampton Court Note the aeroplane set to land at Heathrow on what is a major air corridor above.
I love this view of Richmond Railway Bridge. Close by is the now lost (although clues remain) Richmond Palace the birthplace of Queen Elizabeth the First and seen as too old fashioned by Henry 8th who preferred Hampton Court.
Richmond Railway Bridge when coming from Hampton Court.
Richmond Road Bridge when coming from Hampton Court.
Petersham Meadow features rare breeds of cows and bulls.
Petersham (coming from Hampton Court) and in the distance is Richmond Hill where the view looking down to this spot is part of the Arcadian vision and is protected by law. Not far away is Ham House and formal gardens owned by the National Trust.
Teddington Lock, Monty Python fans may remember the ‘fish dance’ set here. It is also where the Thames Estuarine meets with the River.
Looking toward Teddington Lock when coming from Hampton Court.
Teddington Lock Footbridge on the way to Hampton Court.
Kingston ahead on the way to Hampton Court.
Kingston Bridge on the way to Putney – the bridge here and at Brentford were barricaded by the Parliamentarians during the English Civil War, the Royalists did not attempt to cross. When the two sides met at Turnham Green a day later the King’s men opted not to fight and saw out the winter in Oxford instead.
There is some really bad architecture along the river but this Italian style church at Surbiton is a gem. St Raphaels Catholic Church is Victorian built in the Italian Romanesque style.
The gilded gates of Hampton Court Palace, behind the fences are the apartments built by King William and Queen Mary after the ‘Glorious Revolution’ that saw the overthrow of King James II of England (James VII of Scotland) the last Catholic monarch of England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland.
Hampton Court, state of the art when Henry 8th had the palace expanded and made fit for him to hold court.
Waiting for the train back to London and across the Thames is Hampton Court. You can also continue riding past Hampton Court Bridge and explore so many more miles/km’s of the River Thames.