The Thames Path from Hampton Wick

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Hampton Wick to Walton On Thames. Hampton CourtWe start at the Hampton Wick end of Kingston Bridge and go south, down the tarmac road, onto the barge walk on the Middlesex bank and start towards Hampton Court.The surface is fair to good. Soon we see St Raphael's Catholic Church on the far bank, built in the 1860s, in Italianate style. We pass an island called Raven's Ait, classed as a training ship during the war, and which the Germans claimed to have sunk with torpedos. After Raven's Ait, cycle users are now required to take to the upper path, which is a shame because the lower path is probably a unique relic of the old military track, dating from the Napoleonic Wars. We see opulent houses on the far bank, pass the racing punt club and come out at Hampton Court Palace which we can view.

FredKarno's boatWe conduct our bikes south over Hampton Court Bridge, a modern construction, and turn right to Molsey Lock on the Surrey Bank. The toilets here are moderately ok. We pass Molesey Boat Club, with a plaque proclaiming the Olympic success of two members, the Searle Brothers. A memorial is dedicated to writer R. C. Sherriff, who lived in Hampton Wick. behind the memorial we can see substantial iron gates, part of Hurst Park Race Course, discontinued in the early sixties. If we stop when we reach the open ground and sit opposite the grey house, we can see the house boat that belonged to music hall star, Fred Karno, the villa built by actor David Garrick and Garrick's Temple to it's left. Further left, we see Hampton Church.

Boy On Bird, topiary Stopping opposite the church we are able to read from some excellent plaques, erected by the local population. In particular, note the first British balloon ascent, by James Saddler. The site of that ascent is now the local football ground. To the left, on the far bank we can see the buildings of the old Chelsea Water Company. We pass a wonderful piece of topiary - a boy riding a bird, then Cherry Orchard Road, where Hampton Wick artist, Katie Blackmore, once had a studio. To the right there are fine houses on Sunbury Island. The red building behind is the Salvation Army Headquarters.

Sunbury Lock Sunbury Slope BridgeSunbury Lock GatesWe continue to Sunbury Lock, where we see a curiosity - a bridge with stone slopes instead of steps. This was to enable working horses to cross the bridge.

Manor House Walton On ThamesAs we get towards Walton On Thames, the route becomes more busy. Just after the Thames Valley Skiff Club, we can turn left into a tarmac road. Turn right and there, behind a pub, we see a wonderful 14th Century manor house in a fine state of preservation. Were we to venture into Walton On Thames, we could see the Playhouse Theatre, all that remains of the premises of film pioneer Hepworth. The building was an electrical generating house.

Playhouse Theatre Walton On Thames

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