Bridging The Gap #walking #london #thames

It’s been so hot and dry in London for over 2 months that my regular walks with Dog have been curtailed. He’s not been happy.

Wednesday was different. Clouds had rolled in, a breeze had been evident and a front was somewhere over the horizon.

‘Shall we go for a long one?’

It doesn’t take much, you know.

There are several parks on route. This one is near Wandsworth

I’d read about an organised walk which, sadly is fixed for a Saturday when I’m away which starts at Putney and follows the Thames eastwards crossing every bridge until they run out at Tower Bridge (Oh all right, there’s the QE Bridge in Dartford but that’s not for pedestrians, leaving aside it’s several miles away).

Putney Church, ready to be recycled…

This bridge zigzag in 25 kilometres and had a lot to recommend it.

First up, Putney Bridge and the first of many ornamental street lights

’So,’ I asked having explained the plan, ‘that Ok?’

On the base of the lights there were these shields.

‘You have water?’

Tick.

Putney Bridge with an iconic London Bus

‘Biscuits?’

‘Tick.’

The footbridge by the tube; there were three, and this made second spot

That’s alright then.

As you wander towards Wandsworth Bridge you cross Bell Creek…

… and then the Wandle one of the nicest tributaries that flows into the Thames

London’s bridges span (ha!) many generations. Those not built in the period 1950 – 1990 (these are concrete lumps with little adornment) have a lot to recommend them especially in the way of the street lighting.

Westminister Bridge’s lighting is, not surprisingly, pretty impressive

The Victorians, Edwardians and early Georgians understood the importance of twiddly bits. When did we lose the urge to adorn?

Wandsworth Bridge is pretty functional, as the street lighting shows. When it was built it was surrounded by industrial units and the Fullers Brewery but these days the area is more posh-residential…

The Thames is tidal all the length of this walk. On a few occasions with the tide being out I saw people on the little beaches that appear.

I’m photobombed by a crow! Though at least no one was paddling…

In one case a retriever was gambolling in the water. I hope its owner knows about the quantity of sewerage that gets released into the river, pending the completion of the new mega sewer currently being drilled beneath our feet. It’s an odd thought, that – 90 metres down below me an enormous tunnel is being drilled the length of the section I was walking.

Battersea Bridge… nice lights!

Simple but effective…

Mundane and super modern separated by the distance of a football pitch. Glad you can’t feel it.

Even the embankment lighting is stunning…

And then there’s Albert Bridge… sigh!

And Chelsea Bridge, after Battersea Park… It’s very photogenic and see those lights…

They’re like some sort of Pythonesque guard…

The rhythms of such a walk are upset by three things, broadly speaking. One is the need to cross roads, while London’s traffic grinds its way hither and yon. Two is other people most noticeably when we reached Lambeth Bridge just before The Houses of Parliament as tourists were out in force. These groups pretty much disappeared at Southwark bridge only to pop back at the Southbank by HMS Belfast and Tower Bridge.

Three, statues. London must be the plinth capital, surely.

Every corner there seems to be some one whose past is still celebrated in stone or bronze. Thomas More stands -sits- like an extra from a film, overlooking Embankment Gardens near to a water fountain memorialising an obscure judge who presided over the huddle masses of what used to be Madras.

Tom Carlisle – a bit of a scribe

This memorialises Hans Sloane a noted 18th century collector whose collection was bought by the nation and formed the basis of the Natural History Museum.

There are three footbridges over the Thames. The first lies alongside the tube line the comes out from Putney running a neat parallel to Putney Bridge itself (see piccy above). It’s an old iron rattly thing that has served its purpose for many years – not pretty not classy just effective.

Millennium Bridge, much chunkier than planned…

…but the views down river from the Millennium Bridge are rather splendid.

The second is the grandly named Millennium Bridge which opened to much fanfare in 2000, wobbled disconcertingly because of the circa 200,000 people or some such who wanted to use it all at once and was closed for 2 years while the designing engineers scratched their beards, added a load more ballast that made it look like state-of-the-art gubbins and reopened to no fanfare whatsoever. The concept was a slim construction which you would barely see; the result was this clunky compromise of tubes and wiring.

Simple…

…and effective

The third, also planned for the Millennium sits alongside Hungerford Bridge, another railway line, this one into Charing Cross Station. This replaced an ugly walkway, infamous for the poor tramp tossed over the parapet by drunken thugs and being, reputedly, the longest single urinal in Europe. It is simple, elegant and arrived on time. Why is it that we cock up the ones with the most publicity? Or is it that the cock ups get the most publicity? I know what I prefer.

Sorry, random shot of Battersea Power Station… a post in its own right… back to the bridges…

Vauxhall…

And a statue.. agriculture I think

If you did a poll of people’s preferences, asking which bridge is their fav, you’d end up – probably – with Albert Bridge winning. It’s dainty with a sort of Disney charm but that’s to damn it, I suppose. I like it, sure…

Lambeth

And its lights, type one

Which is better than type two, a real 1930s chunk..

Lovers of concrete would tick Waterloo’s box, while Chelsea Bridge has probably the most iconic lights and is the grandest.

Westminster Bridge isn’t the fancy Dan crossing you’d expect… well apart from the lights. They’re cool…

And the little park by the House Of Commons, that is cute too…

The statue here is cool too. Emmeline Pankhurst the suffragette. Wearing the famous ribbons. 2018 is the 100th anniversary of votes for women. Something good eh?

Me, I think I prefer Vauxhall. It’s more bridge that design statement but the buttresses are adorned by caryatids – more statues – which is a ludicrous indulgence for something whose utility lies in going across it, not looking at it. These statues were the result of artistic pressure to give the bridge ‘meaning’ and two men, Alfred Drury and Frederick Pomeroy were commissioned, each to design four statues to sit on the up and down stream buttresses respectively. Variously they represent Pottery, Science, Agriculture and so on. But critics then as today weren’t happy.  Siting them so they sat below parapet level, it was said, meant the only people capable of enjoying them were the ferrymen and lighters who plied their trade on the river. Or the old bloke and his dog out for a walk. Not intellectual enough for the audience.

Waterloo – its functional. And that’s all I’m saying…

Though the views from Waterloo of the City (left) and the South Bank (ahead, The Shard on the distance) are grand

Its easy to be seduced into thinking that a riverside walk is on the level and, yes, mostly it is.

Blackfriars railway bridge and the old supports for the now defunct Chatham railway

Thought the kept the rather grand embellishment – the Victorians didn’t go for modest, did they?

But bridges, especially ones designed to let boats go beneath have to be raised. There are slopes and steps which, by the end of the day. begin to pall. Why, I pondered did I follow the route proposed for the organised walk where each bridge was crossed?

Southwark Bridge – only two left and this is another one that is not given its due. I like these lights..

they aren’t ridiculous statements – they do what they are needed to do but they aren’t bland either – just right

 

Dog felt much the same. We were both tired – we’d not done this sort of distance for a couple of months – and we skipped crossing Tower Bridge at the end. I don’t think anyone noticed.

Eh, Dog?

Tower Bridge – everyone knows this one…

and London Bridge … no one want to know this one. The old one was sold to some bemused Americans who thought they were getting Tower Bridge. Somehow one gets the impression, were that true, then their due diligence might have been shite… probably a myth https://www.citymetric.com/skylines/was-american-really-conned-buying-wrong-london-bridge-1162

About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published four books - Dead Flies and Sherry Trifle, My Father and Other Liars, Salisbury Square and Buster & Moo. In addition I have published two anthologies of short stories, Life, in a Grain of Sand and Life in a Flash. More will appear soon, including a memoir of my mother's last years. I will try and continue to blog regularly at geofflepard.com about whatever takes my fancy. I hope it does yours too. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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54 Responses to Bridging The Gap #walking #london #thames

  1. Ritu says:

    I do love the London bridges though I don’t have a fave!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Taking and sharing all those photos was a labor of love much appreciated this side of the Atlantic. I loved the monument which seemed to feature a gigantic urn. Also you are right about bridges being hilly. I remember being winded crossing the Brooklyn Bridge because I didn’t realize how high up it went in the middle.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Lucy Brazier says:

    Can’t beat the London bridges. I have a soft spot for Putney (in general, not just the bridge – lovely though it is).

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Never realised there were so many, but then I haven’t been to London to sight see, only to visit relatives many years ago, a trip to St Thomas’s for Hubby, Earl’s Court to see Whitney Houston (very disappointing) and then Wembley and White City for School Boy International football finals. Thanks for the trip and photos. One thing you forgot on your tick list for Dog…………… poo bags. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      And we’ll, he performed three times you’ll be pleased to hear, each one perfect for clearing up – you’ll know what I mean, Di. And there are loads more as you pass up river to the non tidal parts. I do enjoy how the Victorians had such self confidence that they added all sorts of redundant glories… definitely a loss to modern budgeting.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. Good for you! That’s a lot of ground to cover on foot. I can’t go for long walks as I used to because of a bad knee.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Geoff. Thanks for letting us tag along for this wonderful photo tour. I loved seeing all the streetlamps. Hugs.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. London’s green and verdant land is looking a trifle brown and crispy – and her iconic river needs a good swish through too. But that array of bridges and their lighting is so wonderful to see. I agree, it’s the twiddly bits that make anything better! You could start up your own tour – The Lights of London by Dickhead Tours, that way you can skip the boring and gone-awry bridges and just do the twiddly bits. Did Milo enjoy the walk?

    Liked by 3 people

  8. JT Twissel says:

    Walking alone the river was the only way we found our way around London! We’d recognize a bridge and know what area of town we were in!

    Liked by 3 people

  9. tidalscribe says:

    The Millenium Bridge must be the most featured in television dramas. I have always been envious of my friend who walked it while it was still wobly.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Erika Kind says:

    Good old London. Thanks for the trip. I miss the city!!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Charli Mills says:

    Your guided tours always make me feel like I have a window into London.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. restlessjo says:

    You’ve made me feel quite homesick, Geoff! Nothing I liked better than spanning a bridge or two when I lived in London. I shall be humming Waterloo Sunset for the rest of the day. 🙂 🙂 Thanks for sharing! Did you get the bus home?

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Mick Canning says:

    Your photos are so good, Geoff, you could almost make me like London!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. That’s a good long walk! Lot’s of bridges, quite a few I didn’t know about. Really enjoyed this wander around the London bridges with you and Dog. Have to say I do love the twiddly bits from the Victorian times, we just do twiddly building anymore – very boring. Tower Bridge is quite brilliant isn’t it?!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Widdershins says:

    Thanks fir the tour. 🙂 … that a wonderful collection of lamp-posts.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. An excellent tour offering me much nostalgia

    Liked by 1 person

  17. willowdot21 says:

    I love Waterloo Bridge simply because of the view and memories. Thank you Geoff and Dog for a wonderful trip…
    I hope there was cake and coffee to be shared at the end of the walk.💜

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Pingback: Jo’s Monday walk : Ma Shipton’s Cave, Knaresborough | restlessjo

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