I donned my waterproofs shortly after noon today and headed out on the Thames Path hoping I wouldn't get too wet. I was lucky. The sky was overcast and at times the clouds turned a menacing black, but it did not rain — and by the time I reached my destination the sky turned blue and the sun came out. It turned out to be a rather glorious winter's day.
It's been at least three years since I last cycled the 7 mile route from Hammersmith to Richmond. I'd forgotten how picturesque it is. Even in winter with no leaves on the trees, it's very pretty cycling under an avenue of bare-armed branches. And you can peek across the water and see the most amazing jig-saw puzzle scenery: pretty coloured houses, old pubs and church towers jostling for position along the river frontage.
You can even catch glimpses of royal property, such as Syon House (above), which is the London home of the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland.
Once in Richmond I sat outside the White Cross pub and enjoyed a bit of early afternoon sunlight, before clambering back on the bike and heading back in the same direction from whence I had come.
I took a mini-diversion in Kew and cycled around the Green, stopping briefly to take this photograph of St Anne's Church, which was originally built in 1714.
Once back on the tow path, I shunted my way through deep puddles, skidded along muddy verges, bounced over slimy cobblestones and shook every bone in my body as I made my way along the rough surface skirting the river.
By the time I got to Barnes I headed onto the main road (the tow path is temporarily closed between Hammersmith and Barnes for tree pruning) and bombed my way along the dedicated cycle lane feeling really strong and fast on the bike. I was enjoying myself so much it came as rather a rude shock to realise the sudden "give" in my rear wheel indicated I had a puncture. Fortunately, I was only two miles from home, so it wasn't too much of a drama — I simply walked the bike home — but it did put a dampener on my outing.
I'm looking forward riding this route again shortly, although next time I might come back via Richmond Park and turn it into a proper circuit. Of course, I need to get that puncture fixed first. Bugger.
Total distance travelled: approximately 17 miles (27km).