The Thames Path - Walk 2
Kew Bridge to Chelsea Bridge
Picking up the route from Kew Bridge, today's walk was another stroll along the north bank of the Thames ending in Chelsea. Just past Kew Bridge you pass Oliver's Island, a small heavily wooded island. It derives its name from a story that Oliver Cromwell took refuge on it, however there is no evidence that this was ever the case. It is now a haven for herons, cormorants and Canada geese.
Although not on the Thames Path, Chiswick House is worth a small detour to see (I didn't today as I have previously visited the house). It is arguably the finest remaining example of Neo-Palladian architecture in London. It was designed by Lord Burlington and completed in 1729. The Grade I listed building is maintained by English Heritage.
When you reach Chiswick Mall have a look out for the Griffin Brewery, where Fuller's Independent Family Brewers brew their beer. The first recorded use of the name dates from 1816 when Douglas Thompson, one of the company owners at that time, acquired the name and emblem from collapsed Meux & Reid's Brewery located in Liquorpond Street. As well as its beers, the brewery is famous for having the oldest wisteria plant in the UK, planted in the early 19th century.
Further round the Thames and you'll pass by Craven Cottage, Fulham F.C. home ground since 1896. The name is taken from a royal hunting lodge, which stood on the location of the stadium's centre circle, and the surrounding woodland made up Anne Boleyn's hunting ground. The cottage burnt down in 1888, and after 8 previous grounds Fulham settled in for good.
Nearby you'll pass by Fulham Palace, the one time main residence of the Bishop of London from around 11 century until 1975. It is still owned by the Church of England but is managed by the London Borough of Hammersmith & Fulham and the Fulham Palace Trust.
A few detours away from the Thames and you'll soon pass Chelsea Harbour. Once home to a British Rail Coal Yard and Victorian-era railway coaling dock, it is now a mixed-use development consisting of luxury apartments, a 5* hotel, marina and design centre.
Near the end of this section is the Royal Hospital Chelsea, home of the Chelsea Pensioners. It is a retirement and nursing home for around 300 retired British Army soldiers. Any man or woman, over the age of 65 and who served as a regular in the British Army, may apply to become a Chelsea Pensioner if they have found themselves in a time of need, of good character and without any dependents. It was founded by Charles II in 1682 as a retreat for veterans.
This section of the walk ends at nearby Chelsea Bridge.
Distance: around 11.5 miles.