11.3km – with Prasana.
This is a counterexample of a German being organised and planned: We were already on our way to start the Green Chain Walk. But as we didn’t have a map with us and our mobiles weren’t fully charged so that we could have followed the online instructions (that’s the unorganised part), we decided to go to the Thames Barrier nearby (that’s the spontaneous part – I’m so not German today). And what a coincidence: it’s also the beginning (or end) of the National Trail Thames Path (294 km). I got so excited. I’m usually a section walker. I do bits and pieces of a trail here and there: North Downs, South Downs, South West Coast Path, Pembrokeshire Coast Path, Thames Path, … but rarely start at the beginning. But here we were. At the start of the Thames Path. You could hear the drums speeding up, increasing the excitement before I set the first step onto the trail. You go along a tunnel which shows you all the stages of the trail, from the Thames Barrier that protects London from floods since 1984, through London with all its bridges, into the countryside with all its locks and weirs until the source of the Thames in the Cotswolds.
The hiker who decides to go on a thru hike on the Thames Path might be disappointed on the first few kilometers. The path initially leads through a rough industrial area, but then gets busy and has a lot to see including the Cutty Sark, The National Maritime Museum, The Royal Observatory and the Queens House in Greenwich.
There was a 1920’s dance with music going on when we arrived there which we could have joined. But as I have two left feet, we concentrated on walking. There are also lots of pubs around on this stretch, so there is always a pint nearby ;-). (For the thru hikers: it gets very pretty from Putney on, 30 kilometers into the walk. That’s where you leave the tarmac path and the city and it becomes green and quiet.) We didn’t get as far but finished our rather short walk after 11k at the Greenland Docks, near Greenland Pier, and got the bus home. Relatively unspectacular, and if you’re a friend of nature, this is nothing for you, but very exciting to start at the beginning of a trail that I attempt to complete at some point.