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Thames Barrier to Tower Bridge with Liz and Stuart
Tower Bridge to Putney, Sue, Thomas, Tanya and Natalie
Putney to Ham House via Kew Gardens
Ham House to Shepperton with Lucy
Shepperton to Laleham with Liz, Chris, Dominic, Maddie and Claire
Laleham to Windsor with Tanya and bump
Windsor to Cookham with Sue
Cookham to Marlow with Marie & Andrew
Marlow to Henley early in the morning
Henley to Pangbourne with Sue
Pangbourne to Wallingford with Sue
Wallingford toClifton Hampden with Ann
Clifton Hampden to Abingdon with David
Abingdon to Oxford in the rain
Oxford to Wolvercote with David, Alison, Francis, Sarah and TIggy
Wolvercote to Farmoor helped by David
Farmoor to Bablock Hythe on Boxing Day
Bablock Hythe to Radcote with Lucy
Radcote to Castle Eaton, sometimes by the river
Castle Eaton to Ashford Keynes with Malcolm and overnight stay
Ashford Keynes to the Source with Malcolm
Thames Path: stage 1 - Thames Barrier to Tower Bridge
thames barrier, thames path start

Having decided to start the walk at the Thames Barrier I looked through my old address book to see who lived near the sea end of the Thames. I contacted Liz, who I hadn't seen for over 10 years, and was delighted at her almost instant enthusiasm and response. In the meantime Liz has married Stuart, so it was an opportunity to meet him too.

millenium dome
We were lucky with the weather - the days before had been cold and windy, but 4th March started bright and clear. We walked past the Millenium Dome, now "The O2", observing work taking place getting it ready for opening next year and the 2012 Olympics, and on towards Greenwich. A fairly industrial landscape, but for me even the decaying signs of past commerce make a good picture when the sky is right. Abandoned slipways and unused wharfs create a feeling of something past. Stuart has found Victorian pipe stems on the 'beaches' near here, but nothing unusual was to be found today.

Liz works at the University of Greenwich , so she was able to give me a personal tour of Wren's ornate 'Painted hall' and the Rococo Chapel of St Peter and St Paul. Just outside the college is the Cutty Sark. We didn't have time to visit it, or to walk through the Greenwich Foot Tunnel - both on my list of things to do another time.

Cutty Sark
Father Thames in the
Painted Hall at the Greenwich Old Royal Naval College

The Cutty Sark at Greenwich,
a 19th Century tea clipper

Peter the Great, Deptford

Much of this stage of the walk is through areas of housing, including brave attempts to make high-rise attractive, and bijou accommodation with highly desirable off-road parking. This is broken up by sculptures old and new. Stuart finally met his match in height terms compared to this statue of Peter the Great in Deptford. Also competing with Stuart for size, 'Curlicue' at Greenland Dock gave Liz and I a good snigger..

Curlicue, William Pye, Greenland Dock

We stopped at the Surrey Docks farm for lunch - very reasonable prices, albeit for a limited (vegetarian) menu. The kid goats were very cute - definitely on James' list of places to go. Another venue for the future is the Brunel Engine House in Rotherhithe. Having visited some of IK Brunel's triumphs in Bristol, it would be interesting to find out more about his father, Marc, who built the first tunnel under a navigable river at Rotherhithe, assisted by a young Isambard.

After lunch we embarked on the last stage of the journey to Tower Bridge. Having never been inside the tower, we finished the day by doing the tour of high-level walkways and Victorian Engine Rooms. The raised walkways provide views down both side of the river - showing us where we'd been, and where I had yet to go.