At 10 am Steve W, Tessa, Richard, Russell and I set off from Jubilee Gardens towards the West on the Southern side of the Thames. After a bit of iffy navigation we eventually managed to get ourselves onto the Thames Path. There was a cold wind coming from somewhere and the cloud grew ever darker threatening rain which in fairness was the forecast. We made good time to Battersea Park where we paused to take a picture by the Peace Pagoda.
It was still far too early for coffee so pressed onwards passing Chelsea, Albert and Battersea Bridges and then further on Putney Bridge where we were amazed to learn that there is an identical church at either end. We were all even more amazed to discover that our ride leader had been Christened in the one on the southern shore, it was more the fact that he had been Christened at all which caused the surprise.
Shortly after Putney bridge the metalled road gave way to a wet muddy track which whilst perfectly rideable but splattered us with mud and wet leaf-mould, in particular those without mudguards. At the London Wetlands Centre we took a short detour for a cup of tea. Unfortunately you can only get access to the cafeteria by paying a £12.50 entrance fee to the centre; this seemed jolly excessive so we continued to Hammersmith where we found a little cafe and enjoyed a lovely cuppa. By now it was 11.45 am which seemed just a bit early for lunch so after considerable discussion we decided to postpone this until later in the ride. By now Richard was very much on home territory and was able to make some useful suggestions around route planning as it has begun to rain – not hard – but sufficiently to cause some concern.
Richard suggested that Chiswick Market was a short distance away on the North side of the water and if we crossed at Barnes Bridge we might pay a quick visit and this is what we did. The smell of delicious cooking as we arrived in the market set up in the car park of the Old Masonians Bowling Club was overpowering and even if the rain hadn’t been getting worse I am sure we would have dined here.
The club house was open to visitors and there were tables and chairs set out where we were able to eat the food we had purchased in the market so how good is that. The market is open between 10 and 2 each Sunday and all cyclists should take note of this location as an ideal place to stop for refreshments.
By the time we had eaten and consumed lovely cups of tea and coffee the rain had cleared and we set off on the return journey. Richard lives in the Hammersmith area so we said goodbye to him and headed ever Eastwards crossing back to the safer South side of the water at Hammersmith Bridge.
By the time we reached Battersea Park the light was already beginning to fail and by Nine Elms we had lights on. It was probably only just 4 o’clock. It felt very wintery, though not cold.
Jubilee Gardens was heaving with people, especially tourists when we arrived. We decided that we had a lovely ride and called our goodbyes. Just about 27 miles. I cycled back to Bromley for good measure