Hampton Court, Hampton Wick and Bushy Park walk, Surrey
Report by urban75 editor, Jan 2006
A winter walk through parks and palaces by the Thames (6 miles approx).
The quickest way to get to Hampton Court from central London is from Waterloo rail station.
The train takes about 35-40 minutes and takes you past the delights of Clapham Junction ('Britain's busiest junction'), Wimbledon and Surbiton before arriving at Hampton Court station (which is actually in East Molesey, across the river from the palace).
After arriving at the railway station (a two platform terminus which has clearly seen better days), turn right and cross the Thames by Hampton Court Bridge, 200m away. Here's the view of the Palace from the bridge.
Once across the bridge, turn right and walk in a south-easterly direction along the banks of the Thames (the path is known as 'Barge Walk'). The Palace is to your left.
Admission to the palace, gardens and maze is pretty pricey (£12 in 2006), but you can walk up to have a peek at the Tudor west entrance for free!
The building dates back to 1514, when Thomas Wolsey, Archbishop of York began building a magnificent palace on the north bank of the River Thames.
Henry VIII received the palace from Wolsey in the mid to late 1520s, with Edward VI, Mary I, Elizabeth I and Henry VIII all staying at Hampton Court at times during their reigns.
The walk continues in a south-easterly direction with the high brick wall of the palace to your left.
These ludicrously flamboyant gilded gates facing the river can be seen ten minutes into the walk. Note Hampton Court Palace in the background.
Two people and a bike inside the palace grounds.
There's some handy seats facing the river - ideal for our picnic of fresh multi-seed bread, cheese and apples. Despite it being mid-winter, the sun was out!
There's an elevated section to the west of the Thames pathway called the Pavilion Terrace.
Behind the railings (to the north) is the Home Park golf course.
You can walk back into Hampton Court Palace along the terrace, but if you continue in the direction of the walk, you'll end up at a frustrating dead end.
A winter view along Barge Walk from the Pavilion Terrace.
Thames Ditton Island.
The Island is 350 yards long, and is home to a population of around 100 souls in 47 houses.
Popular with picnicking Victorians, weekend chalets started to appear on the island in the early part of this century, although with no utilities on offer, facilities were basic.
By 1939, the whole of the island's perimeter was covered in wooden bungalows, with owners mooring their boats at the end of their gardens.
The construction of a suspension bridge linking the island to the mainland in 1939 brought water, electricity and gas and carried out sewage into the town drains.
Nearly all the buildings on the island are elevated on stilts in an attempt to prevent flood damage - not always successfully.
Abandoned shoe, Barge Walk.
Curious riverside structure and passing jogger, Barge Walk, near Kingston Bridge
Looking east across the Thames by Kingston.
The 'Grenna Pearl', moored near Kingston bridge.
The stone bridge of five elliptical arches was opened in 1828 to replace an earlier wooden bridge dating back to 1219.
Faced with Portland Stone and sporting classical Greek balustrades, the bridge is 382 feet long and was originally only 25 feet wide.
Tram lines were laid across the bridge in 1906 (making it the first tram-carrying Thames bridge) but increasing road, pedestrian and cyclist traffic made the bridge increasingly dangerous.
After the death of a young cyclist, the bridge was widened to 55 feet in October 1914, with furthering widening and strengthening work taking place in 2000 to accommodate bus and cycle lanes.
The bridge currently carries approximately 50,000 vehicles per day with some 2000 vehicles per hour crossing in each direction at peak times.
The walk takes you on to Kingston Bridge. Turn left across the bridge, veer left at the roundabout and then take the first turn right up Church Road. There's small gated entrance into Bushy Park a few metres up on the left.
It was getting dark - and a bit nippy - as walked along the southern flank of Bushy Park towards Hampton Court Gate.
When we reached the road through the park (Chestnut Ave), we turned left, crossed the main road (Hampton Court Road) back into Hampton Court.
Walking through the palace.
Evening view of Hampton Court.
Walking on to Barge Walk we were rewarded with a beautiful sunset.
Looking south-west over the Thames to East Molesey from Hampton Court.
Kingston bridge is to the right, with the rail station more or less directly opposite us.
We grabbed a coffee in a pleasant local cafe by the station, before heading back to London.