diamond geezer

 Tuesday, September 27, 2022

A Nice Walk: Hammersmith to Chiswick (1 mile)

Sometimes you just want to go for a nice walk, nothing too taxing, a bit of a stroll, lots to see, plenty of history, a good all-weather surface, close to public transport, won't take long. So here's a nice walk along a mile of the Thames, nowhere near enough to make a day of it but a nice walk all the same.

Let's start at Hammersmith Bridge, it's a bit of a mess at the moment but walking's no problem, and head for the riverside. The Thames Path's always good no matter where you start, but let's start here on Lower Mall. That's the HQ of British Rowing at number 6 because of course it is, where else would they be located? There are also two pubs, the Blue Anchor and The Rutland Arms, you're never far from a hostelry along this stretch. Each is a jolly riverside pub but don't stop for beer and a nice meal yet, unless you're walking this in the opposite direction in which case nachos or steak?

Furnivall Gardens are nice, not stupidly nice but a large bit of grass on the outside of a Boat-Race-sized bend with sweeping views. This used to be a wharf at the mouth of the Stamford Brook but WW2 put paid to that - read the information board, it's all there. You probably won't have to negotiate a class of schoolkids having cycling proficiency lessons, but even if you do they won't be able to follow you down the narrow alley past The Dove because that's 'no cycling'. The Dove's another really old pub, but best not stop here either.

William Morris used to live in Kelmscott House which is coming up on your right, you can poke round his coach house for free on Thursday and Saturday afternoons. It's all blue plaques along Upper Mall, even Eric Ravilious lived further down, and the current owner of his house gave me such a stare. But they look down on everyone here because these are properly expensive houses - at least two have currently got the scaffolders in. Good news for walkers, you're not at risk of paying the fine for unauthorised driving, which is Forty Shillings according to the notice on the river wall. The lookout tower is for a yachting club, obviously.

Linden House isn't a pub, more a heritage celebrations venue, but The Old Ship is an old pub and possibly the most popular hereabouts. Nice though the waterfront is the river's the best bit, and make the most of it because it's just about to disappear behind a terrace of houses, which it does just past The Black Lion which is yet another pub. Don't come on Boat Race Day because everything's packed. And here come the blue plaques again, it's the actual home of typeface king Edward Johnston and also designer Emery Walker whose house is open for tours, thankfully on Thursdays and Saturdays to save you coming twice.

They're even posher along here, as you can tell because somehow they can afford a Georgian waterfront villa, plus there's a self-proclaimed high-end Italian deli on the corner dispensing gourmet pastries beneath an awning. Houses generally have two front gardens, an ordinary one and a private strip of riverfront, so know your place and keep walking inbetween. This street's called Chiswick Mall, we're in Hounslow now, with signs warning of flooding so be careful where you park your car, except you're walking so you'll be fine. Yes those are beehives, those are upmarket picnic chairs and I hate to think how much that sculpture cost.

The island to your left is Chiswick Eyot, a three acre nature reserve planted long ago with willow trees. It's normally inaccessible but come at low tide and the intervening channel drains away leaving a bed of connecting mud. Sure it's possible (and tempting) to cross over from the slipway, but the school party I saw mudlarking halfway were all wearing mucky wellies so the sensible option is not to risk it. This is also just around the back of Fuller's Chiswick brewery, as you'll be easily able to tell from the smell. And yes you could now continue upstream to Corney Reach and Barnes Bridge, but why not end it here because don't push it, it's been a nice walk.

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