12.9 km (8 miles) All tarmac.
OS Explorer maps 161 (London South) and 173 (London North)
1 out of 10. But as the entire walk is on tarmac or hard surfaces, it is recommended you wear well cushioned trainers instead of walking boots.
This walk follows the River Thames Path from Tower Bridge through Central London past the main tourist sites - The Tower of London, HMS Belfast, St Paul's, The Tate Modern, The Houses of Parliament to name a few - and follows it to the city's western suburbs of Battersea, Pimlico, and Putney, passing apartment blocks from the Victorian, Edwardian and modern eras, city parks, riverside pubs, and on-river pubs (boats). Early in the walk you will cross the river half a dozen times!
Its easy to take time out from the walk to visit an art gallery (Tate Modern and Tate Britain), a concert (the Queen Elizabeth Hall usually has lunchtime music), or a tourist attraction (the Tower of London, the London Dungeon, St Paul's Cathedral, London Sealife Aquarium and the London Eye) along the way.
The walk can be done in either direction, you can also choose between the north bank and south banks paths, swapping between them at any of the bridges.
The recommended route has you crossing several of the 18 bridges you'll pass (3 more are rail bridges without a pedestrian footpath, and 1 is a rail bridge, but you'd need a ticket) but if you prefer, having crossed Tower Bridge at the start of the walk, you can stay on the South Bank. But crossing the bridges as suggested in these directions is much more fun !
Every time a new development opens, as part of planning permission, the route gets closer to the riverside, so the route in continually improving, and will be better than the map shows.
You could easily do a shorter or circular walk.
This walk passes lots of tube and train stations. Tower Hill is on the Circle and District Lines. London Bridge mainline railway station is also served by the Northern and Jubilee tube lines. Westminster is on the Circle, District and Jubilee lines. Putney Bridge is on the District line. Putney mainland railway station has trains direct to Waterloo (change at Clapham Junction for Victoria).
Drivers could find somewhere on the south side of Putney Bridge at weekends (on weekdays, its all controlled parking). There is a direct tube trains between the 2 stations, or you could get the river bus
SWC: This walk suits a mid-morning start, say 10:30 am
|Places to Eat||
There are many nice places to stop for a drink along the way. A selection, from east to west:
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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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.
Tower Hill to County Hall, Westminster
- 5 km (3.1 miles) including bridge crossings
- Leave Tower Hill tube station. There is a Wetherspoons pub over to your right. Head towards the Tower of London and walk along its walls with moat below and head for Tower Bridge , to start your walk.
- Cross Tower Bridge to the South Bank, turn right (west), and continue for 1 km to the next bridge
- You will pass in order on your left-hand side (or where right [R]).
- Bridge Theatre - London's newest theatre
- City Hall (affectionately known as Ken's Wigwam - after the first Mayor of London in the modern era)
- HMS Belfast [R]
- Hays Galleria - a modern development of restaurants and shops
- London Bridge City Pier [R] for the Thames Clipper service
- Turn left for London Bridge Station, otherwise keep ahead.
- Go up granite steps onto London Bridge which you cross to the North Bank. Ahead of you are fine views of the City's newest skyscrapers - The Walkie Talkie and the Cheesegrater.
- Head along the Thames Path on the North Bank, on Fishmonger's Hall Walk, then Oystergate Walk, then Hanseatic Walk. Turn right then left through Steelyard Passage, passing under railway bridges. Return to the Thames Path, with the Banker pub in a railway arch on your left. You are now on Walbrook Wharf. At its end, go up steps and turn left to cross Southwark Bridge . At its end, turn left down steps, then left under the bridge as you return to the South Bank.
- You have cafes and restaurants in modern development on your left. Pass Bankside Pier (Thames Clipper service) on your right and keep ahead on the riverside walk.
- Pass the Globe Theatre , then Tate Modern . Turn left up a ramp and cross the Millenium Bridge (affectionately known as the Wobbly Bridge, after initial problems with vibration on its opening - now fixed). At the end of the bridge, if you wish to visit St Paul's Cathedral then keep ahead up a slip road. Otherwise, to continue the walk, now back on the North Bank, turn left down steps onto Paul's Walk, passing the City of London School on your right. Pass Blackfriars Pier (Thames Clipper service) on your left. Pass under Blackfriars railway bridge, then go up steps and turn left to cross Blackfriars road bridge, to return to the South Bank.
- At the end of the bridge, turn left down steps, and go under the bridge. You have the Doggett's pub (now sans Coat and Badge) on your left - a popular venue for SWC walkers. Keep ahead on this riverside walk, along Oxo Tower Wharf, with retail units on your left. Pass the ITV studios, then the National Theatre complex .
- Stay on the South Bank if you wish to visit the South Bank Centre and Festival Hall . Otherwise, turn left up steps and turn right to cross Waterloo Bridge and at its end you turn right down steps onto the Victoria Embankmemnt road. Stay on the south side of this road to cross Savoy Street and turn right into Victoria Embankment Gardens . Walk through the gardens with its many memorial benches and statues. Over to your left on the Embankment is Cleopatra's Needle with guarding sphinxes on eithere side of the obelisk.
- Exit the gardens, turn left through Embankment underground railway station hall, and at its far end turn right up steps and then left to cross the river on a modern steel footbridge which runs alongside Charing Cross Railway bridge. At its far end go down steps and return to the North Bank, now on Queens Walk. Keep ahead on this riverside walk and you come to Jubilee Gardens on your left. There are useful public WCs over to your left (50 pence). In a further 100 metres you come to the London Eye big wheel. You now have the start of the large County Hall complex on your left. Pass the London Dungeon, Shrek's Adventure, then London Sealife Aquarium.
County Hall to Putney
- 7.9 km (4.9 miles)
- Pass under Westminster Bridge and keep ahead on the Albert Embankment. You pass St Thomas' Hospital over to your left. Across the river you have a fine view of the Palace of Westminster (Houses of Parliament). At the far end of the embankment go up steps and turn right to cross Lambeth Bridge . At its far end, cross the busy road on the pedestrian crossings, go through a metal gate and go down steps to enter Victoria Tower Gardens South. Walk through these gardens and exit them onto Millbank. Turn left along this busy road, pasing Millbank Tower skyscaper on your right. Cross Millbank at the pedestrian lights, and you have Tate Britain art gallery on your right. Keep ahead on Millbank and shortly after the road swings to the right you come to the Morpeth Arms pub, a recommended lunch stop.
- After lunch continue along Millbank. At Vauxhall Bridge , cross this busy road junction with care and on the far side (Vauxhall Bridge Road) turn left for 35 metres, to go down steps back onto the Thames Path, along a riverwalk. Go through a gate into Crown Reach, alongside private development. At end of the riverwalk turn right briefy onto Grosvenor Road, then return to the riverwalk, again beside private development on your right-hand-side. At the end of the riverwalk, turn right through Pimlico Gardens green space and return to Grosvenor Road. Keep ahead on this road, soon passing Westminster Boating Base on your left, then the Churchill Gardens Housing estate over to your right. You pass a Shell Petrol station on your left.
- In some 800 metres you go under Grosvenor railway bridge. On the other side of the river you have a clear view of the Battersea Power Station redevelopment scheme as it progresses. Keeping ahead on Grosvenor Road, in 100 metres you come to Chelsea Bridge , which you cross to the South Bank. You will now stay on the this side of the river all the way to walk-end in Putney.
- At the far end of the bridge, turn right at the pedestrian lights, cross the road and enter Battersea Park through its Chelsea Gate. Follow the sign on your right for the Thames Path and walk ahead beside the river (on your right-hand side) on a riverwalk (unless you prefer walking on the grass to the left of the path for a softer footbed). You pass a cafe and public WCs (free) some 65 metres over the grass to your left. You next pass the buddhist London Peace Pagoda on your left.
- After walking through the park for 1 km, you exit it through a metal swing gate, to come out onto a major road, where you briefly turn right towards Albert Bridge , arguably the most attractive of the river bridges. Note the unusual and amusing notice on the sentry box beside the bridge "All Troops must break step when marching over this bridge".
- Do not cross Albert Bridge, marching in step or not, but instead cross the road to go down steps to return to the riverfront on the Thames Path. In some 300 metres you go up steps to come out onto Battersea Bridge Road, with Battersea Bridge to your immediate right. Again, you do not cross this bridge, but cross the road to return to the riverwalk, passing a sculpture of a family entitled "In Town". Keep ahead on the riverwalk, with low rise residential development on your left-hand-side.
- At the end of this stretch of riverwalk, with houseboats ahead of you, keep ahead through the grounds of St Mary's Church and at its far side return to the riverfront. You now have modern medium rise housing development to your left. In some 300 metres you pass under Battersea Railway Bridge and keep ahead on the riverwalk, soon on Lombard Wharf, with more moored houseboats to your right.
- You pass Oyster Pier and go over two water inlets. At the end of this section of riverwalk you come to London Heliport ahead of you. Turn left away from the riverfront and walk around the heliport. You pass Crowne Plaza and the heliport offices then turn right to return to the riverfront.
- Keep ahead on this next section of riverwalk, soon passing Plantation Wharf, then Battersea Reach modern high rise development. At the end of the riverwalk, with Wandsworth Bridge ahead of you, turn left, then right to go under the bridge and keep ahead through an industrial area, with a cement plant on your right. In 70 metres you come to The Ship , your late luncheon pub option.
- Pass to the left of this pub on Jews Row and turn right by Brady's Bar and Restaurant to return to the riverfront, now on Nickols Walk. You next pass Riverside West residential development before the way ahead is blocked by a large household waste recycling plant. Note the two massive cranes which jut out into and above the river.
- Turn left beside the waste plant for some 150 metres and at the end turn right on Smugglers Way to pass the entrance to Smugglers Way Household Recycling Centre . Keep ahead past this centre. Some 100 metrtes over to your left is Wandsworth Town overground railway station, should you wish to terminate your walk at this point. For those continuing with the walk, keep ahead to pass to the left of the entrance to Chartwell Business Park. Cross a bridge over a water inlet, then another. Your way ahead is now dependent on progress with on-going construction (March 2018), as you walk through a new residential development (Riverside Quarter). As soon as you can, return to the riverfront and keep ahead.
- You now enter Wandsworth Park and walk on its surfaced path with an avenue of London plane trees to your left - and a line of lime trees to their left. In some 425 metres, at the end of the park, turn left for some 40 metres to exit the park through a gated brick archway into Blade Mews. At the end of this road keep ahead, now on Deodar Road. You pass under the London underground railway bridge, with access steps to its right up onto a walkway beside the bridge over the river which takes you direct to Putney Bridge station, should you wish to bypapss your tea stop. Otherwise, keep ahead on Deodar Road until it swings to the left. Here you turn right to return to the riverfront. You pass, on your left, Carluccia's restaurant, then the Boathouse pub, then you come to The Rocket pub restaurant, your suggested tea stop.
- After tea, exit the pub via its rearmost exit to come out into Church Square, with St Mary's Church over to your right. Walk 40 metres through the square and you come out onto Putney High Street . Turn right to cross Putney Bridge . At its far end, turn right down steps and keep ahead for Putney Bridge underground station . (Distrit Line). Back on the High Street, turn left and walk gently uphill for a few hundred metres passing Putney's shops en route until you come to Putney overland railway station , for a service to London Waterloo.