A deer park, 'the village on the river' and one of the first English landscape gardens
Main Walk, to Hammersmith: 16¾ km (10.4 miles). Three hours 50 minutes walking time. For the whole excursion including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 7½ hours.
Longer Walk, to Putney: 20¼ km (12.6 miles). Four hours 40 minutes walking time.
Shorter Walk, to Chiswick: 14¾ km (9.2 miles). Three hours 20 minutes walking time.
Explorer 161. Norbiton is in south-west London, 1 km E of Kingston.
2 out of 10 (3 for the Longer Walk, 1 for the Park & Riverside Walks).
No walk with a stretch along the South Circular Road and ending next to the Great West Road can be considered truly rural, but this one takes in a fair amount of open green spaces and a particularly attractive stretch of the River Thames. After ten minutes along tree-lined residential streets you go through Kingston Gate into Richmond Park, the largest of London's Royal Parks and home to over 600 Red and Fallow deer. The suggested route takes in the azaleas, camellias and water features of the 40-acre Isabella Plantation (a woodland garden which is attractive at any time of the year but particularly colourful in spring), followed by the central Pen Ponds. After leaving the park through Roehampton Gate a section alongside Beverley Brook and across Barnes Common takes you to the village on the river for a pub lunch overlooking Barnes Green.
After lunch you cross the River Thames on Barnes Railway Bridge and soon reach the centrepiece of the afternoon section, Chiswick House & Gardens. The third Earl of Burlington had come across the architectural drawings of Andrea Palladio on his ‘Grand Tours’ of Italy and after a fire in his Chiswick home decided to build a replacement in that style. Completed in 1729, the new villa was primarily intended to showcase his art collection and impress his guests. The grounds too were inspired by the ambience of classical Rome; he designed them with William Kent in a naturalistic style which became the essence of the 18thC English landscape garden. The house is managed by English Heritage and unless closed for a private event is open from April to October (Mon & Wed to 3pm, Sat & Sun to 4pm); admission is £7.80 (2019). The gardens are open all year round (free entry).
Unless you take one of the shorter endings (see below) the walk returns to the river via a churchyard containing the Tomb-Monument of the satirical English artist William Hogarth (a short detour off the alternative Turnham Green ending, Hogarth House was his ‘country’ home; hard to imagine now with traffic thundering past on the Great West Road). The Main Walk finishes along one of the most desirable riverside stretches in London, passing a succession of attractive 17th and 18thC houses.
The Longer Walk continues past Hammersmith Bridge to Putney. The character of this stretch of river is quite different: instead of the grand Georgian houses there is a mix of modern developments and older terraced housing which you glimpse on short detours away from the river. The last of these takes you past Craven Cottage football stadium (so you might want to check if Fulham have a home game). The final 1 km is through a riverside park and (if still open) the grounds of Fulham Palace, the country residence of Bishops of London for twelve centuries. The Church vacated the Palace in 1975 and it is now managed by a Trust. The historically important botanical garden is open daily, the Palace itself on Sun–Thu to 4.30pm (3.30pm winter); admission free.
The 4¼ miles from Putney Bridge to Chiswick Bridge are the venue for the annual Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, held in spring. This event attracts large crowds and the pubs might be rather busier than usual that afternoon.
Note that Richmond Park and the grounds at Chiswick House and Fulham Palace all close at dusk. Also, parts of the Thames Path go past private estates on permissive paths where notices say that access is limited to “daylight hours only”.
For a Shorter Walk you could call it a day after visiting Chiswick House & Gardens, diverting to the station called Chiswick (but in the suburb of Grove Park). For convenience directions are also given to the nearest underground station (Turnham Green), although this involves quite a long trudge through suburban streets and across main roads.
In theory you could also divert off the Thames Path to finish at Stamford Brook or Ravenscourt Park stations, but there are only a few places where it is possible to cross the A4.
You could use the two stations in Barnes to split the walk into two (ending at Barnes Bridge or starting from Barnes respectively). There are plenty of refreshment stops from Barnes onwards, so for the Riverside Walk you could have a lunch stop at one of the pubs on the approach to Hammersmith Bridge.
Several other short cuts or optional extensions are mentioned in the directions. Another variation would be to leave the walk at Barnes Green in order to visit the London Wetland Centre, 1 km away along Church Road and across Castelnau. No directions are given but it is easy to work out the route from the map, with a continuation via the river to Hammersmith or Putney.
There are four trains an hour from Waterloo to Norbiton (two on Sundays), taking 25 minutes. The station is in TfL Zone 5.
At the end of the Main Walk there are two underground stations in Hammersmith (Zone 2), one for the District and Piccadilly lines, the other the terminus of the Hammersmith & City and Circle lines.
At the end of the Longer Walk there is a District line underground station (Putney Bridge, in Zone 2) and a separate mainline station (Zones 2/3) with frequent trains to Waterloo.
For the shorter variations Chiswick, Barnes Bridge and Barnes (all in Zone 3) have a similar service to Norbiton. Turnham Green (Zones 2/3) is on the District line.
Take the train nearest to 10:15 from Waterloo to Norbiton. You could start much later on the Riverside Walk, perhaps doing it as an afternoon walk with just a tea stop.
There are many possible lunch places in Barnes village, about 10 km from Norbiton. On Barnes Green the Sun Inn (020-8876 5256) has plenty of seating (including a small front patio and a larger back garden) and serves a good selection of food all day. Along the High Street there are several cafés, a Pizza Express and the Coach & Horses (020-8876 2695). On the right at the far end are two more large pubs with a fine riverside location, the Bulls Head (020-8876 5241) and the Watermans Arms (020-8878 8800), which re-opened in May 2019.
If you spend some time at Chiswick House the obvious place to break for mid-afternoon refreshment is the Chiswick House Café (020-8995 6356), but note the Gardens' closing time when you arrive as it stops serving about an hour earlier.
Towards the end of the Longer Walk the Drawing Room Café (020-7736 3233) in Fulham Palace is open daily until 5pm summer (Apr-Oct), 4pm winter.
There are of course plenty of cafés and coffee shops – too many to list here – in the vicinity of Hammersmith and Putney stations, while if you want something stronger it is hard to ignore the riverfront pubs on the approach to Hammersmith Bridge. In the order in which you pass them they are the Black Lion, the Old Ship, the Dove, the Rutland Arms and the Blue Anchor. The Dove is the most historic but small and often crowded; the two nearest the bridge are also likely to be busy on summer evenings. At Putney Bridge two prominent riverside pubs (on the south bank) are the Star and Garter and the Duke's Head.
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Out (not a train station)
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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
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- Main Walk, to Hammersmith (16¾ km)
- Norbiton Station to Isabella Plantation (3¼ • 5 km)
- Arriving from London via Wimbledon, go down the ramp and under the subway to leave the station via Platform 1. Go straight across the small car park and over Coombe Lane at the pedestrian crossing. Continue along Wolverton Avenue, just off to the right.
- Go all the way along this residential street, passing the back of Kingston Hospital. At the far end cross the A308 (Kingston Hill) at the pedestrian lights and veer right and left to continue on the B351 (Queen's Road). At the far end go through Kingston Gate into Richmond Park.
There are many grassy paths and tracks through this large deer park and it is easy to go astray. The directions sketch out a possible route to Roehampton Gate via the Isabella Plantation and Pen Ponds but you might prefer to keep an eye on the map and take any convenient path in the direction you should be heading.
- For the suggested route, go past the lodge and turn half-right onto a path through the trees. Continue past Kingston Gate car park off to your left, but just before a footbridge over a small stream veer left onto a narrow path which goes up to the perimeter road via the car park exit.
- Cross the road carefully and bear right onto a grassy path towards a tree-covered mound. Follow the path up through the trees and continue along the left-hand edge of a large open area, with a wooded depression down to your left.
- After passing a small enclosure of pine trees (King's Clump) keep ahead across the grassland towards a lightly wooded area (Coronation Plantation), parallel to the perimeter road off to your right and with a large house (Thatched House Lodge) away to your left.
Thatched House Lodge was originally built as two park keepers' houses, then enlarged and joined together in 1771. It is currently a privately owned royal residence, leased from the Crown Estate.
- Inside the plantation the path swings left in front of a large fenced enclosure and merges with a track coming from Thatched House Lodge. Join this track, heading away from the house and passing Dann's Pond inside the enclosure.
- Keep ahead at a path junction, going up a small slope. Where the path splits in front of a small enclosure, fork left to continue in the same direction through the trees.
- You are now heading towards a large rhododendron-ringed enclosure behind a high metal fence. Bear right onto a broad path running alongside it. As you come out of the trees into a more open area, turn left through a gate in the perimeter fence (High Wood Gate, though not marked as such) into the Isabella Plantation.
There are many possible routes through this plantation to Peg's Pond Gate on the far side. A simple route past all three ponds is described, together with suggestions for a longer exploration at the end: this is well worth doing in spring when the garden is at its most colourful.
Inside High Wood Gate, bear left off the main path (which swings right past a small toilet block) and go down to a clump of rhododendrons and camellias. Take one of the paths ahead into these bushes and follow it round a few bends to find the azalea-lined Still Pond.
The interconnecting ponds and streams in the plantation are fed by water pumped up from Pen Ponds, in the centre of the park.
- Follow the surfaced path down alongside Small Stream. In 150m the path bends left to go alongside Main Stream. Turn right at the first junction to go across the stream on a wooden bridge, and keep ahead across the main path running alongside it to come to another attractive spot, Thomson's Pond.
George Thomson was the Park Superintendent who developed the Garden layout in the late 1940s. The Plantation was opened to the public in 1953.
- Turn left at the pond and follow the surfaced path gently downhill alongside Thomson's Stream to the Heather Garden. Turn right and follow a path around Peg's Pond (in either direction) to come to a large toilet block and information panels by the exit from the plantation.
Optional tour of the Plantation (up to 1¾ km)
- Complete your circuit of Peg's Pond to return to the Heather Garden. At the end of this garden turn right onto a little-used path (with a “Planted 1831” indicator post) into a wooded part of the plantation.
- Follow the woodland path round to the left and gently uphill, eventually returning to Still Pond. Go around the right-hand side of the pond and continue along Camellia Walk (the other path you could have taken from High Wood Gate).
- At a major path crossing (with Broomfield Hill Gate 100m off to the right) turn left onto either of the paths going gently downhill alongside Main Stream. After crossing over the route you took earlier (leading to Thomson's Pond) there is another path off to the right.
- Unless you want to curtail this tour by continuing through the Heather Garden to Peg's Pond, turn right at this junction. The path leads to the Bog Garden, where you fork right to return to Thomson's pond.
- Follow the path past the left-hand side of the pond and Thomson's Lawn. Continue on the path as it veers right to go along Bluebell Walk, later passing Wilson's Glade (with its wooden shelter) off to the left.
Ernest Wilson was a plant hunter who brought back a large collection of Kurume Azaleas from Japan in the 1920s.
- The path brings you back to the major path crossing (with Camellia Walk ahead). Turn right to go back down alongside Main Stream again and this time follow it all the way through the plantation. Keep left at Peg's Pond to come to the exit.
- Isabella Plantation to Roehampton Gate (3¼ km)
- Leave the plantation through Peg's Pond Gate and turn right to go through the car park, where there are several paths into a lightly wooded area. Take the second path on the right (ie. the one to the left of the path alongside the perimeter fence). Follow this out into a large open area and up to a lane.
- Cross over the lane and a sandy horse ride to continue on a grassy path, with a large rhododendron-ringed enclosure (Pond Plantation) ahead on your right. At a path junction bear left onto a broad grassy path and follow this up a slope and round to the right.
- Keep right at path junctions to go around the large enclosure, which you will soon see is at the end of a lake (the upper Pen Pond). At the end of the lake keep ahead at a path crossing to go past the smaller lower pond, down to your right.
Pen Ponds were created in the 18thC to drain a boggy area, then enlarged when gravel was extracted for local building.
- Continue in much the same direction past a large wood on your left, Jubilee Plantation. Go straight across a broad avenue leading to White Lodge, 500m away to the right in Duchess Wood.
White Lodge was built as a hunting lodge for GeorgeⅡ in 1730. Since 1956 it has been the home of the Royal Ballet School.
- Keep ahead across a large open plain on a faint grassy path, aiming for the left-hand side of a small wood behind a road junction (Sheen Cross), 750m away.
Towards the far side of this plain you pass a noticeboard saying that the flying of Model Aircraft is permitted in this area.
- The path leads to the perimeter road, a little way to the left of Sheen Cross. Cross the road carefully, turn right and cross over the side road near the junction. Turn left briefly onto the roadside path alongside Sheen Cross Wood, then in 50m turn right onto an inconspicuous path into the trees.
- On the far side of the wood continue on a grassy path leading to a substantial footbridge 400m away (not the one alongside the perimeter road, 125m away to the right).
- Cross the footbridge over Beverley Brook and continue on the path leading back to the road, meeting it in front of Roehampton Gate. Go through the gate to leave Richmond Park.
Beverley Brook is a short river, flowing from Worcester Park into the Thames between Barnes and Putney, with an attractive tree-lined section through Richmond Park. In medieval times there were beavers in the river and the name means ‘beaver-meadow stream’.
- Roehampton Gate to Barnes Station (2½ km)
- Immediately outside the gate turn left onto an enclosed footpath running alongside the park boundary wall, signposted as the Beverley Brook Walk. After crossing the brook turn right onto the riverside path, with Palewell Common & Fields on the left.
The Beverley Brook Walk runs for 10 km between Wimbledon and Putney.
- In 400m ignore a footbridge over the brook and follow the path round to the left. At a Y-function fork right to stay alongside the brook. After passing another footbridge the path swings left and goes out between allotments to a residential street (Hertford Avenue).
- Turn right onto the road and go all the way along it, passing a school on the left. At the far end turn right onto the A205 (the South Circular Road). Cross over this main road at the first or second set of pedestrian lights and then fork left into Priests Bridge.
- Alternatively, you could carry on along the A205 for a further 400m to a road junction and bear left just after the traffic lights onto a tarmac path across Barnes Common to the station. The suggested route is quieter and only marginally longer.
- Where Priests Bridge swings right in front of Cafe Loris, bear left into White Hart Lane and then immediately turn right into Treen Avenue. At the far end turn right into Rosslyn Avenue and go past vehicle barriers onto a footbridge over Beverley Brook.
- Continue along a broad tree-lined street (Woodlands Road), then go straight across Vine Road onto a signposted footpath across part of Barnes Common. In 150m turn half-left at a path junction (onto the path from the main road) and follow this tarmac path to Barnes station.
Barnes Common is a large area of common land which has become dissected by roads and the railway. The 100-acre site of rough grassland and woodland was designated as a Local Nature Reserve in 1992.
- At the station go up the steps by Platform 4 to cross over the tracks on the footbridge, with a road (Rocks Lane) on your right.
- Barnes Station to Barnes Bridge Station (1½ km)
Starting from Barnes Station
If you want to do a full exploration of this attractive plantation before continuing the walk, a meandering route (which you can easily shorten) is described below.
- Arriving from London on Platform 3 or 4, go up steps to the footbridge over the tracks and turn left, with a road (Rocks Lane) on your right.
There is a blue plaque at #12 to the composer Gustav Holst (1874-1934), best known for his orchestral suite “The Planets”.
Finishing at Barnes Bridge Station
- Go up the steps on this side of the railway bridge, signposted to Platform 1 for trains to Waterloo.
- Go up the steps towards Platform 1, but halfway up turn sharp right onto the pedestrian footway across the Thames. Cross the river alongside the railway tracks and go down steps on the far side. At the bottom a Thames Path notice points left, with the official route skirting around a boathouse on the riverfront ahead.
- If there is no activity in the boathouse you could simply walk across its slipway (as most locals seem to do) onto the start of the Promenade.
- The alternative is to turn left as indicated, then in 60m turn right onto a road at a bend. Go through the gate to King's House Sports Ground (not the footpath to its left) and follow the road up and round to the right, then cut across the grass to rejoin the riverside path at the start of the Promenade.
Chiswick Council acquired a large area of land between the river and Chiswick House from the Duke of Devonshire in the 1920s and developed it into a recreation area, including constructing this embankment with its terraced promenade, a bandstand, etc.
- Continue along the riverfront for 750m, passing the Bandstand and Dukes Meadows on the left.
At the end of Dukes Meadows The Fantastic Herons sculpture was created from recycled materials.
- Continue on a permissive path in front of the Corney Reach estate to reach Chiswick Pier.
- For the main route turn left, going past an octagonal pavilion (access is permitted through the private estate to Pumping Station Road). At the end of the estate make your way across a large roundabout to continue on Grantham Road opposite.
- At the end of Grantham Road cross the A316 carefully and go through the Great Chertsey Road Gate into the grounds of Chiswick House, with the house itself directly ahead. Go up the avenue to the forecourt entrance, guarded by a pair of sphinxes.
Lord Burlington modelled Chiswick House on Palladio's Villa Capra “La Rotonda” near Vicenza, but also included elements from the architect's drawings of other classical buildings.
- Go through the forecourt towards the house and continue around its left-hand side. At the back turn right onto a broad avenue leading to the Inigo Jones Gateway.
This 17thC gateway had been designed by Inigo Jones for Beaufort House in Chelsea. It was acquired by Lord Burlington in 1738.
The suggested continuation is a slightly shorter version (in the reverse direction) of the garden trail shown on the Chiswick House & Gardens Trust's Visitor Guide.
- If you want to skip (or postpone) this you can veer right in front of the gateway to go directly to the Café.
Suggested tour of the Gardens (up to 1¼ km)
- Go through the gateway and turn left onto a winding path leading to a small pond, with a ha-ha on your left. Bear right at the pond into the semi-circular Italian Garden.
The garden was laid out in 1812 to provide an elegant setting for the Conservatory.
- Take any route through the garden and then come back through (or alongside) the 96m-long Conservatory.
Completed in 1813, the Conservatory contains the oldest collection of camellias in Britain.
- Having returned to the small pond, bear right onto a path heading towards a small square building at the end of the ha-ha, the Deer House. Go past this into a small rose garden, with a Medici Venus on top of the Doric Column.
The statue is a modern copy of the Venus de’ Medici in the Uffizi Gallery, Florence.
- Turn left in front of the column and follow a path to the Patte d'oie (goose foot). There are several paths radiating off to the right into The Wilderness and the semi-circular Exedra is up ahead, at the end of the broad avenue from the house.
The Exedra was designed to contain Lord Burlington's sculpture collection.
- With the house behind you, take the left-hand of the three main paths from the Patte d'oie (unless tempted to explore further by the eye-catchers at the ends of the others). From the left-hand path there is a fine view of the Ionic Temple behind an Obelisk.
The Ionic Temple is one of the few surviving 18thC garden buildings, intended to evoke the gardens of ancient Rome.
- Continue along the broad path (or a parallel one through the shrubs to its right) to come to the Classic Bridge. Either cross over the bridge and turn left, or (for a short extension) continue on a loop around the far end of the lake to the other side of the bridge.
The long narrow lake was part of the original garden design but the Classic Bridge was a later addition, being designed by James Wyatt in 1774.
- Go along the path alongside the water, passing the other side of the Ionic Temple. At the end of the path turn left to go past the Cascade.
William Kent added this combination of waterfall and grotto to the gardens in 1736.
- Go up to the forecourt entrance. You could retrace your earlier route around the house to the gateway, but for a shorter route to the suggested refreshment stop keep ahead past the entrance and turn left after 100m to reach the Café.
If you are doing a Shorter Walk and not continuing along the river to Hammersmith or Putney, complete the walk with one of the two sets of directions below.
Finishing at Chiswick Station (+1 km)
- Make your way to Burlington Lane Gate, near the southern corner of the gardens. From the café the shortest route is to retrace your steps past the front of the house to the Cascade. From here you can either keep ahead or go up a flight of steps onto a higher parallel path, the Terrace. Both routes lead to an Obelisk in front of the gate.
- There are also paths from the Classic Bridge and opposite the Ionic Temple which lead to the Obelisk.
- Leave the gardens and turn right onto Burlington Lane. The station is 400m past the junction with Staveley Road, on the left at the end of a parade of shops. Platform 1 on the near side is for trains to London.
- You could also leave the gardens from the Park Road Gate exit (near their north-western corner) and walk along Park Road to the station, but there is no public right of way from the Staveley Road exit through the Chiswick Place estate (which would be the most direct route).
Finishing at Turnham Green Station (+1¾ km)
- Make your way to Duke's Avenue Gate, in the northern corner of the gardens. From the café the shortest route is to go past the Italian Garden and turn left onto a broad tree-lined avenue. You could go out through the main gate at the far end and turn right to get to the subway under the A4, but it is better to veer right across the grass and leave through a pedestrian gate in the wall.
- Detour to Hogarth House (+300m) Turn right and go along the A4 for 150m to find the house on the right. Return the same way.
- Go down the ramp outside the pedestrian gate to the subway. On the other side of the A4 continue along Duke's Avenue, directly away from the main road.
- At the end of this long road turn right at the T-junction with the A315 (Chiswick High Road). Cross over this busy main road as soon as possible and in 75m turn left into Fisher's Lane.
- Alternatively, simply continue along the A315 for a further 300m and turn left at the traffic lights onto the B409 (which leads directly to Turnham Green station).
- On the suggested route you go across Chiswick Common Road in 175m and turn right onto a path across Chiswick Back Common, gradually approaching the underground tracks on the embankment off to your left.
The common was the site of the battle of Turnham Green (1642) in the English Civil War. Parliamentarian forces under the Earl of Essex held off the royalist army, which never again attempted to march on London.
- On the far side of the common cross over the B409 and go under the railway bridge to find the entrance to Turnham Green station.
- To continue the walk, make your way to Corney Road Gate, in the eastern corner of the gardens. From the café the shortest route is to take the path leading away from the front of the café (with the house off to your right) and turn left at a T-junction, away from the house. Where this path swings left in the corner of the grounds, veer right to find the gate.
- Alternatively you could go past the Conservatory and turn right onto a broad tree-lined avenue, which leads to the gate.
- Leave the gardens and turn left onto the A316. Cross this main road at the pedestrian lights and continue along it for a further 75m, then turn right into the signposted Powell's Walk, which leads to a cemetery and St Nicholas church.
There has been a parish church on this site since the 12thC but most of the former building was demolished and rebuilt in 1882-84.
- Go around the right-hand side of the church. Near the end of the path you pass an information panel in front of the Tomb-Monument to William Hogarth, with an epitaph by his friend David Garrick, the actor.
- Leave the churchyard to rejoin the Thames Path along Chiswick Mall, passing a series of grand houses on the left and their private riverside gardens on the right.
- After passing Chiswick Eyot (a small island) the road bears slightly left, away from the river. Continue along Hammersmith Terrace.
There is a blue plaque on one of the houses to AP Herbert, lawyer and humorist (the author of “Misleading Cases”).
- At the end of this street veer right in front of the Black Lion (the first of a string of pubs in this stretch of the walk) to return to the riverfront.
- After passing through a small open space and the Old Ship pub the path leads into Upper Mall. On the left is the London Corinthian Sailing Club, followed by more grand houses.
In a side road on the left (Weltje Road) there is a blue plaque on the first house to Eric Ravilious (1903-1942), an English artist noted for his South Downs watercolours.
Towards the end of this street you pass a small museum run by the William Morris Society. The champion of the Arts and Crafts movement lived at #26 and some of the engraving of his designs was carried out at the nearby Sussex House.
- At the end of Upper Mall the Thames Path continues along a short passageway where you pass the Dove tavern on the right.
This small pub (originally a coffee house) boasts numerous historical connections, eg. that James Thompson wrote the words to “Rule Britannia!” in an upstairs room.
- The passage comes out into Furnivall Gardens where you can veer right to return to the riverfront.
This area was once the mouth of Hammersmith Creek, used by barges until the early 20thC. The outlet was later channelled into an underground culvert and the gardens built over the area in 1951.
- Continue along Lower Mall, another set of grand houses (of varied designs). In the final stretch to Hammersmith Bridge you pass two more pubs, the Rutland Arms and the Blue Anchor.
Finishing at Hammersmith Station (+¾ km)
- To avoid having to cross the A306, follow the Thames Path under Hammersmith Bridge and immediately turn left up a ramp, passing the Old City Arms pub at the top. Continue alongside the main road.
- After going under Hammersmith Flyover bear right across a small green, passing St Paul's church off to the right.
- Cross over the A219 at the traffic lights ahead and turn left to find the main entrance to Hammersmith Broadway (for the District & Piccadilly lines) just round the next corner. The other underground station (for the Circle and Hammersmith & City lines) is directly opposite.
If you are not doing the extension to Putney, complete the Main Walk with the directions below.
There is a branch of the Thames Path on both sides of the river and you could take either to end the walk in Putney. The directions in this section are for the north bank, which leaves the river in a few places but ends with a stretch through a riverside park and the opportunity to visit Fulham Palace.
- If instead you cross the river at Hammersmith Bridge, the south bank route (which is popular with cyclists as well as walkers) is completely straightforward, along a broad tree-lined path almost all the way to Putney Bridge.
- For the route along the north bank, follow the Thames Path under Hammersmith Bridge. Veer left in front of a new housing development and then turn right into Crisp Road. Unless a footpath through Queen's Wharf has been reinstated, you will need to go up to the end and turn right onto Chancellor's Road to return to the Thames Path.
On the next stretch there is a famous Boat Race landmark on the far bank: Harrod's Furniture Depository (originally the store's warehouse) was converted into luxury apartments in 2000.
- In 600m you have to turn left to get around an old wharf. Turn right onto Rainville Road, go past the Crabtree pub and turn right onto the signposted footpath to get back to the river.
Halfway along the next stretch you pass the Mile Post on the far bank, a stone obelisk marking the distance from the start of the Boat Race.
- In 700m you have to turn left again to get around Fulham's football ground, Craven Cottage. Turn right onto Stevenage Road to go past the front of the stadium.
At the far end there is a statue of Johnny Haynes (1934-2005), the club's finest player (from 1952-70, his entire professional career).
- After passing the stadium turn right into Bishop's Park. The shortest continuation is the broad path close to the road, but you might prefer the tree-lined avenue beside the river.
- In 250m you pass some ornamental ponds and a playground. Make your way to the left-hand side of the park (away from the river), where there is an entrance into the grounds of Fulham Palace just past the playground.
Suggested tour of the Palace Grounds
- Go past the gatehouse and along the path to the main building, where there is an entrance into the Tudor Courtyard.
The building is essentially a Tudor manor house with Georgian additions and a Victorian chapel.
- If the Palace is open you have the option of visiting the Great Hall, Chapel and Museum rooms. The Drawing Room Café is at the back of the building.
- Alternatively, take the path around the right-hand side of the building. There is another entrance to the Café from the terrace at the back.
- Go across the lawn behind the building towards the Walled Garden on the far side.
There are several magnificent trees in this part of the grounds, including a 500-year-old Holm Oak near the far right-hand corner. In the brick wall facing the lawn there are three Tudor bee boles (alcoves for beehives).
- If the Walled Garden is open, enter through its Tudor Gate and make your way to an exit on the far side. The garden is divided into four quarters, with a Knot Garden (replanted in its original 1830s design) in front of the glasshouses on the left.
- Alternatively, take one of the paths around the outside of the Walled Garden.
- Leave the Palace grounds through a gate in the far right-hand corner of the grounds, returning to Bishop's Park.
- Make your way towards Putney Bridge, where there is an underpass to get to the other side of the A219 (there are also pedestrian lights at the end of the lane past All Saints church).
Finishing at Putney Bridge Station (+¼ km)
- On the other side of the underpass keep ahead along a short street (Willow Bank). At the end veer left and then right into Ranelagh Gardens, with the Eight Bells pub just off to the left. Turn left in front of the railway bridge to find the entrance to Putney Bridge station.
- If you crossed the A219 at the pedestrian lights simply go along Gonville Street to the station, which you can see at the far end.
Finishing at Putney Station (+1 km)
- From either side of the underpass go up a flight of steps onto Putney Bridge and cross over the river, where there are several large riverside pubs (including the Star and Garter and Duke's Head off to the right along Lower Richmond Road).
- To complete the walk, keep ahead up Putney High Street. The entrance to Putney station is on the left-hand side of this traffic-clogged main road, just before the major junction with the South Circular Road.
The suggested continuation is through the Palace grounds, but if they are closed simply continue along the Thames Path (or through Bishop's Meadow alongside it).
Near the exit from the Palace grounds there is a small ornamental garden with a memorial to the local people who volunteered for the International Brigade and died while fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War.
There is a choice of stations to end the walk, with the underground station being much nearer. For trains to Waterloo you need to cross the river and go all the way up the High Street.
» Last updated: April 13, 2020