The Thames Path

Richmond to Hampton Court

Richmond to Hampton Court
Upstream: Hampton Court to StainesBack to Main Page Downstream: Putney to Richmond

Introduction

The interesting town of Richmond is the start point for this walk, where the Thames takes on a more rural feel. From Richmond you pass through Petersham Meadow, past Marble Hill House and Ham House, through quite rural settings to Teddington Lock and Weir, which is the point at which the Thames is no longer tidal. From Teddington you continue into the town of Kingston-upon-Thames, which has an attractive market place, then on along the edge of Hampton Court Park to the historic Hampton Court Palace.

Getting to the Start

Richmond Station has excellent transport links and the Thames Path is signed from the station. South West Trains run regular trains from Clapham Junction & London Waterloo to Richmond. Trains also run regularly (generally at least twice per hour) to Richmond from Twickenham, Staines, Windsor, Bracknell, Wokingham and Reading.

The London Underground District Line also runs to Richmond (the last station on the line), with frequent trains from central London, east London and Upminster in Essex. Richmond is in London Travelcard zone 4.

Finally, the Silverlink Trains North London Line ends at Richmond and runs from Stratford and North Woolwich in East London, across North and West London to Richmond, with trains running every 15 minutes from Richmond (every 30 minutes on Sundays).

Regular bus services operate from many parts of London and Surrey to Richmond.

The Walk

To return to the Thames Path near Twickenham Bridge from Richmond station exit the station down the road to The Square. Here head into Duke Street onto Richmond Green. Walk round or across the Green to the opposite corner, and head down Old Palace Lane, which brings you back to the river. Once on the river, turn left towards Richmond Bridge. This part of the path is already feeling more rural, with large houses on the left all along this stretch of the Thames.

View towards Richmond Richmond Bridge
View towards Richmond Richmond Bridge
Houses at Richmond
Large houses by the river in Richmond

Continue under Richmond Bridge, where the path passes some more large houses on the left.

Richmond Bridge The Thames path looking back to Richmond
Richmond Bridge The Thames Path looking back to Richmond

Soon the houses on the left end and you come to Petersham Meadows - the path ahead now looks very rural, with trees lining both banks and covering the small island in the middle. The path heads back from the Thames slightly here and when you get to the toilet, there are steps up to the main road. I climbed Richmond Hill to the left (the footpath begins just across the road at the pedestrian crossing), where there are superb views of the Thames below.

The Thames at Petersham Meadows The Thames from Richmond Hill
The Thames at Petersham Meadows The Thames from Richmond Hill
The Thames from Richmond Hill The Royal Star and Garter Home
The Thames from Richmond Hill The Royal Star and Garter Home

There is an attractive row of houses behind near the top of the hill, where there are a few information boards. Halfway up the hill you'll find The Petersham Hotel, a luxury hotel and restaurant, and the large building near the top of the hill is The Royal Star and Garter, a home for disabled Ex-Service men and women. Returning to the river the path takes on a rural character, with plenty of open space on either side. Soon you pass Marble Hill House across the river, set within Marble Hill Park. The house is now in the care of English Heritage and is open to the public during the summer. Shortly after passing Marble Hill House you then come to Ham House on the south side of the river. This house is now in the care of The National Trust and is open to the public during the summer, however the garden is open all year round, but not everyday.

The Thames at Petersham Meadows Marble Hill House
The Thames at Petersham Meadows Marble Hill House
Ham House
Ham House

Soon you come to a car park on the left, then pass Eel Pie Island, which as well as being used as by a Yacht Club is now mostly residential, with around 50 houses built on it, connected by a footbridge, connecting it to the north side of the river at Twickenham. Once round the island you soon see the distinctive building of St James Independent School for Boys across the river. The Thames is peaceful here, with open land on the "South" side (actually East here) and the houses of Strawberry Hill across the river.

St James Independant School for Boys The Thames looking over to Strawberry Hill
St James Independent School for Boys The Thames, looking to Strawberry Hill

Soon the path climbs to cross the inlet to the Thames Young Mariners Base, a popular water sports centre. After walking through the edge of some woodland you soon come to Teddington Lock and Weir, the tidal limit of the Thames. There is also a weir here, over which around 178 million gallons of water per day flow. The river is still navigable by passing through the lock, which still has the attractive lock-keepers cottages.

Teddington Lock Teddington Lock
Teddington Lock Teddington Lock
Double bridges at Teddington Lock Teddington Weir
Double bridges at Teddington Lock Teddington Weir

Beyond the Lock the river soon becomes more peaceful again, continuing through open land, but with houses getting gradually closer until you the narrow road (Lower Ham Road) for part of the distance towards Kingston. As you get closer to Kingston you pass The Boaters Inn in Canbury Gardens, a pleasant tree-lined park. This park continues all the way to Kingston Rail bridge into Thames Side, just before Kingston Road bridge, under the John Lewis Store. If you climb up onto the bridge you're at the top end of Clarence Street, the main shopping street in Kingston. Kingston is a large town with quite a bit of history, particularly the market square (which still serves it's original purpose), so it's worth spending a few minutes looking round. All the major high-street stores are here and there are several pubs along the river front too.

Approaching Kingston Market House, Kingston
Approaching Kingston Market House, Kingston
Next, Kingston Kingston Bridge
NEXT Kingston Kingston Bridge

Kingston also marks the end of the Thames Path on both side of the river. From here on the Thames Path runs on one side only for most of the way to it's source. Although it looks as if the path continues along the South Side, you can only get as far as Surbiton before you have to join the road, so you need to cross the busy Kingston Bridge. The other side of Kingston Bridge is surprisingly rural, considering how close it is to the town centre. Head down the steps at the side of the bridge, which is in the outskirts of Hampton Wick. The path now becomes mostly gravel next to Hampton Court Park. It is pleasant and peaceful walking next to the park, and there are occasional gates providing access to the park and views of Hampton Court ahead. Soon you come to Raivens Ait, and island mostly occupied by a large Water sports Centre. Surprisingly part of Hampton Court Park is also used as a golf course. Soon you pass Thames Ditton Island on the left, where there are some exclusive houses. As you head towards Hampton Court you pass the pavilion in the edge of the grounds.

Hampton Court Park, with Hampton Court Palace ahead The Pavilion
Hampton Court Park, with Hampton Court Palace ahead The Pavilion

Soon the path pases the edge of Hampton Court Palace, but although the gardens are open to the public free of charge, the large gate which opens onto the river appears to be always locked shut. Nevertheless it is work exploring the gardens of the palace (which you can reach from the main entrance) which also includes the famous maze. The Palace itself is beautiful and was the home of Henry VIII. It is now open to the public daily and is a popular attraction. As you approach the bridge you will pass more boat landing stages - during the summer boats operate from Central London to Hampton Court, which takes more than 3 hours!

The Thames Path near Hampton Court Hampton Court Bridge
The Thames Path near Hampton Court Hampton Court Bridge
Hampton Court Palace
Hampton Court Palace

Getting Back

Just across Hampton Court Bridge you will find Hampton Court station, the end of a branch line from the main line station at Surbiton, continuing the more rural atmosphere of the Thames Path. It is served by trains, operated by South West Trains, every 30 minutes to Surbiton and on to London Waterloo. The trains call at all station to London Waterloo (with the exception of Queenstown Road), passing through Surbiton, Wimbledon, Clapham Junction and Vauxhall and taking a little over 30 minutes to get to London. Connections are available to Woking, Basingstoke and Guildford at Surbiton. Note however that the service is often reduced to a shuttle service to Surbiton when there is engineering works or other disruption. This service does not go to Richmond however, so if you need to return to Richmond by train, you need to change at New Malden.

Hampton Court also has regular bus services. Bus are very regular (generally at least every 10 minutes) to Kingston. There are also buses to a variety of other destinations including Sunbury, Ashford, Staines, Hanworth, Hounslow, Heston, Heathrow Airport, Feltham, New Malden, Cheam, Sutton, Croyden, Hampton, Teddington, Richmond and Kew.

Links

The following web sites provide information on the area.


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