Thursday, 20 September 2007

Crossings of the River Thames 5 - The Hammerton Ferry at Ham

Well, it's that time of the month again, when I dust down the bicycle and head off along The River in search of all the different ways in which I can cross it. On my journey through London I have crossed the river at Hampton, Hampton Court, Kingston and Teddington.

However, imagine my surprise while cycling along the river when I suddenly came upon another crossing, pretty much in the middle of nowhere.



Nowhere, a good place to describe this part of the Thames. It is a beautiful part of the river. On the 'North Bank' you have the estates of Marble Hill and Orleans House. On the 'South Bank' stands Ham House. But as for places where people actually live, they are a bit more set back from the riverside. There are no 'luxury flats' around here, but acres of parkland bordering the Thames.

Which is actually quite handy as the low embankments on the river means that the area does flood around this time of the year due to the high tides. Cycling around last week was a wet and wonderful experience!



The ferry itself is fairly irregular, but is entertainment in itself. Alongside Hampton it stands as one of the more expensive ways to cross the Thames, but it is infinitely more handy if you're a tourist wanting take in all three sites in the vicinity.

This is what I would call a very cultural part of the river. History, art as well as open parkland. No traffic and stunning views of Richmond Hill and beyond, this little pocket of South West London is a gem that will be revisited one day. But the call of the journey pulls me on and there is another crossing further downstream. London is beginning to feel more 'urban', there's more 'street' in the air and as always, the bike takes the strain as I continue my journey.



From here on in the river itself still feels very rustic until you reach the outlying suburbs of Richmond. Then you hear the noise of traffic, something that really has not been obvious for the last few miles. More people milling around and the buildings creeping upto the banks. Although there is still much parkland bordering the river all the way through London, the water begins to lap against the urban sprawl and the last part of innocent London fades into the distance as we begin to take on the meatier parts of the Capital.



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Getting there:

Southbank: Bus 371 then a walk from Ham Street.

Northbank: Buses 33, 490, H22, R68, R70, N22 and then a walk from Marble Hill.

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