I’m SO pleased to be back at home for the night- I live in Waterloo, so it seemed crazy not to factor a night at home in all of this, since I live a stone’s throw from the river, and it saves on campsite fees (not that there are any campsites round here anyway). It does feel strange though to be here whilst I’m doing this work. It was good to have a bath, almost immediately I got here, first ice-cold (only lasted a few seconds), and then hot.
The 15 miles I thought the run was going to be, turned out to be more like 17, which on the hottest day of the year so far was a struggle by the time I reached the last few miles. However, all things considered, it wasn’t a bad run- much of it was along shaded paths, as far as Barnes Bridge and there was also a slight breeze, which always helps. These first few miles felt steady and I enjoyed the leafy coolness of the trees. I passed the Deer Park at Richmond and the Gardens at Kew, though I couldn’t actually see into them. I caught glimpses of rowers training in the river and also passed rowing clubs every now and then. The path rose gradually to a much higher level which gave an interesting viewpoint looking down and I could see various feathered friends and their chicks, which have been such a feature of this trip.
One of my students had said she might come out and cheer me on near Kew, and i was half looking out for her, but didn’t really expect her to turn out on such a hot day. Sometime after I passed the loop of the river towards Mortlake, I heard a voice behind me and it was her on her bike! It was so nice to see her (thanks Ayeshah!), not only for the support and encouragement, but also because due to Covid, I had not seen her recently other than on screen. She cycled behind me as I continued running and we chatted for a bit until I reached Barnes Bridge, where we went our separate ways. I was very touched by this gesture and it distracted me for a while from the more difficult aspects of running. At around 5 miles I was still not too far into the run at this point and things were still relatively comfortable, though running along the open wall edging the river, through Barnes, I felt the heat of the day.
Luckily this didn’t last too long and the path was soon along shaded trees again, as it wound its way round another loop of the river towards Hammersmith Bridge and London Wetlands. From there it wasn’t too far to Putney, where you come out onto a line of rowing clubs, and into Putney itself. This was about the half way point and I knew this was where there would be some potential diversions. I was right but they were not quite as bad or for as long as I remembered. I was initially diverted round a church and back onto the riverside briefly, and then around some new riverside developments. It wasn’t too long before I was back alongside the river, heading towards Wandsworth Bridge. From here it was out in the open sun, running mainly past riverside developments, until Battersea Park, which was a welcome relief.
Since I moved to Waterloo, this is a regular run for me, and I knew that from this point it would be only 4 miles to Waterloo. These last few miles were a real struggle- by then, I think that the heat of the day had got to me. I decided to stay on the south side of the river, despite the diversion at Battersea Power Station. Even though I’m not a fan of this new development and I think that the Power Station could have been put to better use than luxury flats, much of the path near to the river has opened up and will continue to do so, as more of the development is completed. I believe Ken Livingstone, when he was mayor, fought for a ruling that says that new developments have to leave public access to the river, so thanks Ken (although I’m not sure that happens everywhere, sadly).
Back on the river it was then only a short stretch to Vauxhall Bridge, where there has been a short diversion blocking the river path at the bridge end on the south side, I’m not sure why. It could be the London Tideway super sewer, that is blocking off so may parts of the Thames path at the moment. Reaching the walkway opposite the Houses of Parliament, outside St Thomas’ Hospital and I knew I only had about a mile and half to go. I was dreading having to weave my way through tourists and people around the London Eye and the South Bank, but it wasn’t quite as bad as I thought. The trees along the walkway by the National Theatre provided some welcome shade. Perhaps it was also the thought of finishing that made it all the more pleasurable.
I am pretty exhausted tonight and writing this was a real struggle, I hope tomorrow will bring with it a cooler experience.