Ferryland

Kingston to Shepperton

Kingston, Kingston, the years have not been kind. Such a promising start, what with all those crowning of Saxon kings, but now what have you come to? Department Stores on Thames, that’s what.

Here’s a view of the river from the station – a quarter mile away perhaps.

Here’s another shot of the water from a couple of hundred metres.

And having found the river here’s the view looking back into the town from the bridge.

Did someone lock the planning department up and throw away the key?

At least the Thames is on good form here. A long straight stretch makes it a great spot for rowing and even this early on a Saturday morning there were races in full swing.

The weather wasn’t exactly playing fair though, being that particularly trying combination of warmish but wettish. On with the cagoule to avoid the fine mistlike rain (but swelter inside), or keep cool (but get damp)?

I don’t think that these two were together; I think there was just a shortage of seats.

After a while the path began to run alongside the Hampton Court wall and a bit further on, I rounded a bend to see what looked like an elegantly dressed crowd climbing over it. Couldn’t work out what I was seeing until I got closer and realised that this was not a middle class storming of the palace but simply the way into a garden festival.

Not entirely sure why they didn’t use this gate.

And nor was the very chatty security man stationed there.

Are you here to stop people going in this way?

 No, not at all.

So why are they all walking all the way along there?

I have no idea.

Ferry boat captains offering rides between the show and the station were doing their best to entice the gardeners aboard but without success.

It seemed like fool’s errand to me at the time, what with the horticulturally minded coming from sturdy stock and all. Half a mile in the mizzle was not going to defeat these people. Then later, much later, when I found myself catching a stumbling man carrying a clematis in each hand on the Tube, it came to me – of course no one takes a ferry to the show, it’s those getting back from the show laden with leafy treasures that the ferrymen are lying in wait for.

One ferry that was rising above it all was this one, with its disconcerting One Way Only note.

They should call it the Catherine Howard experience.

At Molesey Lock there was this handy map of the Thames.

Also a lovely tea hut, a spotless public loo and a couple of friendly Thames Path walkers. Top spot, all told. The walkers were heading downstream and had walked without stopping for 12 days so far, with another two more to go. They were very enthusiastic about the path which was good to hear. We commiserated each other on the weather. I extolled the cagoule off and brave the damp approach. In return, she recommended boots off and let the feet cool down at lunchtime…

Excellent advice

… while he tried to convince the two of us of his post walk straight into the shower fully clothed trick as a means of getting both body and clothing clean at the same time. We were unconvinced.

And that was about it as far as I can recall, writing this some weeks later. The weather cheered up and on I went. Lots of boats and houseboats, riverside cabins and riverside houses. Another couple of ferries…

and a few odd things that caught my eye.

Then I was almost at Shepperton. I could have taken yet another ferry myself but wimped out and took the bridge. The waterways have got very complicated hereabouts over the years. Have a look.

8 thoughts on “Ferryland

  1. There was an earlier and more moderate version of Bentalls when I was a child. It was a treat to go there for lunch at the weekend – smorgasbord! The elegance! The excitement! The herrings! But no, it is hard to imagine Kingston being an important royal town, seat of kings. Fab way to come upon Hampton Court.

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    • Oh the smorgasbord. I loved a smorgasbord. Not because I wanted to put away vast quantities but because I wanted to try a bit of everything. That must have been such a sophisticated treat back in the day… Do they exist (in their Anglicised form) anymore, I wonder?

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  2. A familiar area for my daughter. She often visit Bushy Park. And there is a lovely little garden in Sunbury. Are you planning on walking all the way to Gloucestershire then? I can’t recall if you said so in your first post. I like the observations you make on this walk – the flower festival goers made me smile.

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    • Bushey Park rang a bell with me from visits to a cousin who lived locally when I was in junior school, but I don’t really remember it. It looked like you can walk in the Hampton Court deer park ordinarily (or maybe it’s just called the parkland), but there was no public access during the garden festival.
      Yes, I’m aiming to get to the source of the Thames in Gloucestershire, probably next year now. I’m enjoying seeing the river change as London recedes.

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  3. You set me wondering about the word “cagoule”, I didnt realise it had a specific meaning (I might call it a Pack-a-Mac). An essential item for walkers. I laughed that the sign promising one-way trips to Richmond-Kew-Westminster. Why wont they bring you back, I wonder?

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    • Do you know, I’ve never thought of the origins of ‘cagoule’, or indeed ‘cag’? That’s what I’ve always called it. Going to go and look it up now. I’m guessing a French language root in there.
      Think that the One Way Only was intended as a way displaying the fares – £10 one way, £20 return or whatever- but it does read oddly, doesn’t it? Especially as it’s been left blank. And especially againas it’s at Hampton Court Palace where Henry VIII held court and from where he dispatched to their deaths at the Tower of London those courtiers and wives who fell from favour. Now they really wouldn’t have needed a return ticket on the boat…

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