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After nearly three months since my previous part of the Thames Path, I finally got my act together to cover another part. Starting from Putney Bridge, the most western point so far, I have now started to walk upstream towards the source of the river.

The Thames is tidal to the first (real) lock at Teddington, and I must have started very close to the low tide, because I have never seen the water levels this low in the river.

Very soon the pavement of the city was replaced by the gravel of the old towpath. Tall apartment buildings gave way to boat houses, and the Thames Clippers and tourist boats that whisk up and down the river in central London was replaced by row boats, dutch barges and the occasional yacht. Despite still being fairly close to the centre of the city, everything had a pleasant, relaxed country style feel to it.

After the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew, I soon passed a lovely pink coloured pavilion on the opposite bank, and after that it was only a short stroll to the first crossing of the Richmond Meridian, a predecessor to the Greenwich Meridian, which ran through the Kew observatory.

At Richmond, I passed the first lock of the river which prevents Richmond from feeling the full effect of low tide, but remains fully open for several hours around the change of the tide. A sort of half-lock, I guess.

When I finally passed Teddington and got to Kingston, where I had pre-booked overnight accomodation, I was physically and mentally exhausted. The last several miles, of the 14 walked in total, were down to will power and determination, rather than because it was fun. And that’s a great shame!

At the beginning of the walk, I had the camera out all the time, taking pictures left and right of anything that either moved or stood still, but as I dragged myself along the beautiful riverside promenade in Kingston, all I was thinking was “how far still to go?”  I sat down, looked at the row boats and people having fun, but the camera stayed in the bottom of the pack.

So I guess there are two lessons I can take away from this day:

  • It’s easy to sit at home and plan “just a few miles more”, but in practise it seems I cover around 2 miles per hour when also taking time for a few pictures. Long distances means fewer pictures, rather than more.
  • Although increased physical energy doesn’t automatically translate to increased creativity, the opposite seems to hold true. There comes a point where lack of physical energy becomes mentally draining, and when that happens, any hope of taking good pictures is lost. So too long distances also means that any pictures are bound to rushed snapshots, hardly worth the effort.

The solution is simple of course: Get in better shape and/or plan smaller walks. The slightly shorter distance covered on my continuation of the walk the next day proved the point. It saw me tired, but at least with energy to keep enjoying the picture taking throughout the day.