On reflection, the Thames Barrier at Woolwich was a pertinent landmark for the start of our bank holiday stroll along London’s riverbank. Its six gleaming flood defences were like sentinels, watching over us as we began our westward trek through the city.
We had aimed to skirt London’s oldest transport route over two days and reach Hampton Court about 30 miles upstream. In the end, we fell well short (put aside three days if you want to make it all the way), calling it a day at Kew Bridge – but nobody cared. Part of the joy, we discovered, was wandering off on tangents and taking our time, a rare treat in our home city.
For an urban walk, this part of Old Father Thames was astonishingly varied. At walking pace, the river’s many moods were easier to read, and we delighted in doing so, making the following discoveries and observations en route.
More than 25 years since its completion, the Thames Barrier is still an impressive sight. The metallic, hood-like moveable gates can seem smaller than imagined, but they are no less imposing for it. There is a visitor centre and café on site, which is managed by the Environment Agency.