In short: beautiful riverside walk from Kew to Richmond lock, less straightforward route back but with the bonus of Syon Park. Lovely Italian cafe stop at the start; clean, smart public toilets en route and delicious lunch at a riverside pub at the end. 3 hrs 35 mins walking; 15 min + 45 mins pitstops.
We had promised ourselves for some time to do a longer Thames based walk to the west of London and today’s the day. Hence we head to Kew Gardens station on the North London overground line (as well as the district line). We are following a walk in the AA book of 50 Walks in London: Along the Thames to Kew Gardens.
On getting off the train we head across the footbridge over the line to the station forecourt on Station Avenue. Here we turn right, walking along Station Approach and past a row of shops to Caffè Torelli, an Italian cafe with a lovely line in miniature pastries and delicious coffee. We stop here for a brief pitstop after our train journey, to consult the map and of course use the facilities!
On leaving the cafe we turn right onto Sandycombe Road which we follow till it meets Kew Road, opposite the wall encircling Kew Gardens, where we cross and turn right. At the junction at the end of this road, just after the entrance to the Gardens, we follow the road round to the left, taking the first turning on the left, Kew Green, crossing the road and taking the path across Kew Green itself to the left of St Anne’s Church.
With our backs to the church entrance we take the path bearing right across the green to the road on the far side where we cross onto Ferry Lane and arrive at the Thames Path at the far end. Here we turn left onto the towpath.
This path takes us past another entrance into Kew Gardens, past the Gardens themselves – we have lovely views from time to time across the wall. We pass the start of the Grand Union Canal on our right on the far side of the river.
The path is really gorgeous – rowers pass us on the Thames, a former deer park turned golf course is on our left – then we have views of Syon Park and Isleworth church on the far side.
It is a delightful walk taking about an hour before we arrive at Richmond Lock.
We cross the river at the Richmond Lock footbridge and pick up the Thames Path on the far bank, returning in the direction we have just come from. To start with this is pretty straightforward – a little more suburban than the gorgeous path we have just walked, but pretty nonetheless. However it is not a straight towpath on this side. After a few minutes we come to a jetty with a boatyard, here the path veers left onto Railshead Road beside the Twickenham campus of Brunel University. This brings us to a main road, Richmond Road, where we turn right.
This road is very busy and also currently quite ugly as we pass a large building site. Just beyond the building site we take a turning right onto Lion Wharf Road, signposted for the Thames Path. However this is a non-starter as there is demolition work underway beside the river, so the path cannot be accessed.
We return to the main road – much to the entertainment of a bunch of traffic policemen who are standing around managing a non-existent traffic jam – and turn right and right again onto Swan Street, attempting to return to the river path. We rejoin it here as it runs across the back decking of the Town Wharf pub and continues on to curve left, crossing a bridge at Church Street.
Continuing along Church Street we reach the waterfront at Isleworth, passing the London Apprentice pub and then following the road around a church up to the entrance to Syon Park on the far side of the road. Here we enter the park following the path which runs parallel to the access road. The landscape here is lovely with a grassy meadow on the far side of the road and a manicured space bordered by trees, bushes and the walls of Syon House garden.
We walk on till we come to Syon House itself where there are public toilets inside the garden centre. We then continue on, past the house with the car park on our left, onto a path bounded by a fence. This leads us out to a main road, London Road, where we turn right.We continue along this road till it bridges the Grand Union canal and we pick up the Thames Path on the far side, descending steps to the canal towpath. Here we follow the path heading away from the road and past houseboats, over a bridge to a housing estate, back over a bridge to a derelict warehouse and an abandoned boatyard of outstanding ugliness.
We walk up Dock Road away from the canal to the main road again where we turn right and then almost immediately right again. This part of the walk is really frustrating as there probably was a path along the Thames but there are so many new housing developments that it’s impossible to follow it continuously anymore. We return here to the canal, passing a pretty marina at it’s mouth, past a small riverside garden and frustratingly left back up to the main road.
After passing the Watermans Arts complex we enter the Watermans Park and walk through it beside the river, alongside some beautiful houseboats and then back up to the main road. Turning right we continue on until we reach the busy Kew Bridge road junction. Here we cross to the far side and descend to the road beside the river, Strand on the Green. We continue along this road to the Bell and Crown pub – which has lovely tables and chairs facing straight onto the river. Here we have a lovely lunch and a cold drink – well-deserved indeed!
On leaving the pub we follow the river path back to the road and then onto Kew Bridge. Here we cross the Thames and after passing alongside some tennis courts we turn left onto Kew Green. We cross the road and take the path across the green ahead of us – admiring the stunning houses as we pass them – to the far side where we turn right. We continue along this road and turn left into Gloucester Road, then right onto Kent Road left onto Mortlake Road and immediately right onto Cumberland Road. This brings us back to Sandycombe Road and Station Approach which leads us back to Kew Gardens station.
A really wonderful walk – which, combined with the train journey there and back, has the feeling of a summer expedition. Highly recommended but allow the best part of a day from Muswell Hill or thereabouts!