Tag Archives: Thames Path

The Changing Face of the Thames

Yesterday’s run along the Thames from Woolwich to Greenwich is a standard one in my ‘repertoire’, but it was made all the more special due to the light created by the bright winter sun that had emerged from the gloom as I reached the Thames Barrier. The light and shadows along the aggregate jetty at Angerstein Wharf were almost perfect.

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I have been running variants of the route for around 18 years, when I first ran in the area there was no path around where the O2 Arena is now and there was a tortuous trek across the ‘peninsula’. The Doomesday reloaded maps comparing the 1986 and 2011 ‘peninsula’ highlight the changes well.

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Industry has all but disappeared upstream of Angerstein Wharf with little more than the aggregate wharves at Victoria Deep Water remaining with most of the rest having been cleared. The flattened wharves, factories and docks will no doubt suffer the same fate as most of the sites upstream and be turned into riverside apartments, many of which will be bought by investors and speculators. The Thames should be a transport and industrial hub rather than a backdrop for expensive housing but is rapidly losing that potential.

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As for the running, it was a comfortable 10 miles or so which saw no after effects of the tightness in the peroneus longus tendon (in the ankle) which stopped me running for a week over Christmas.

A Long Run with the Tall Ships

This week’s running was focused around getting back to normal after illness and making sure that there were no reactions to increasing the intensity. The highlights were a fartlek session (speed play in Swedish for the non-running readers) based around Greenwich’s Books About Town Benches, and a long run following the Thames from Woolwich to Greenwich watching the Tall Ships regatta, I will post more on this later in the week.

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It wasn’t the easiest of runs as I have never seen the Thames Path so crowded particularly as the path narrowed closer to Greenwich but with around 50 sailing ships on show the occasional walking pace didn’t seem to matter too much

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Getting Back to Normal

This was the first almost normal week’s worth of running since the London Marathon and it felt pretty good!

I ran some intervals around the almost mile perimeter of Sutcliffe Park on Friday morning – 4 x 400m at around 5:55, although the first one was far too fast; and then 2 x 800m at 6:40, the second was a real struggle. Normally there would have been a couple more 800m ‘reps’ but it was a start though, and no after effects, so quite pleasing.

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This morning’s 9.5 mile run in the sun included Charlton and the Thames Path – I stopped briefly to look at the old gateway to Charlton House which became redundant in 1829 when Maryon-Wilson family built a new entrance and drive.

Further along the broom on the waste ground above the park named after the former owners of Charlton House was almost in full bloom.

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The Thames was vey still with little of the prevailing westerly breeze and so there were some pleasant hints of reflections of both Canary Wharf and the moored boats.

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A Missing ‘Friend’

Last Saturday’s post described my run eastwards along the Thames, it was a really enjoyable, great to be alive, run. Well it was, apart from one point on Bermondsey Wall where a much loved friend was missing.

A statue of Alfred Salter used to be seated on a metal bench, waving at a statue of his daughter and gazing upstream towards Tower Bridge. It was my favourite piece of sculpture along the Thames, as much for what it represented as for its considerable artistic merit.

As I approached, I knew it had gone, I knew it had been stolen a couple of winters ago – presumably for its limited scrap value, but it still didn’t prepare me for the sadness I felt on seeing a small, slightly rusty, mark on the bench where the statue of the great man should have been sitting. I took a photo of what remains but can’t bring myself to post it, I’d rather remember how it used to be …

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(From the Salter Statues Campaign Website)
Alfred Salter and his wife Ada were two of the heroes of early municipal socialism, the Salter Statues Campaign website sums up their legacy

“Alfred (and) Ada were legendary figures even in their own life-times, and their work for the community was internationally acclaimed. The doctor brought free, state-of-the-art medical facilities into the slums of Bermondsey. He created an ‘NHS before the NHS’. Ada helped thousands with her social clubs, especially for young working women, and later through her ‘Beautification Committee’ she covered the slums with gardens, trees, flowers, children’s playgrounds and open spaces for music and sports. Together they cleared away hovels and built model housing in accordance with garden-city ideals.”

There is a fundraising effort to replace the statue, which is still around £13K short of the £50K target, Southwark Council will match fund the money raised.

This will pay for the replacement of the statue of Alfred along with CCTV to protect it; but one good thing will come out of the theft – there will also be a statue of Ada. It will add to the tiny number of statues of women in London – there are just 14 in public open spaces

There is an on line fundraising page if you want to donate.

London Calling

Usually at some stage in my marathon training I do a run through various parks down to Tower Bridge and back home along the Thames Path. This year was to be no different, but the afternoon it was planned for was one not best suited for running – torrential rain and wind gusting up to 50 mph.

With my last long run out of the way, I caught a train to London Bridge and ran home along the Thames dodging the odd shower.

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A couple of hundred metres past Tower Bridge and the crowds disappear and it is a delightful run, even if some of the views require a look back over the shoulder around the houseboats at Shad Thames

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It isn’t easy running through Bermondsey and Rotherhithe due to the twists and turns and poor signposting of the Thames Path but it offers a mixture of original wharves, refurbished LCC estates and 1990s developments that have aged reasonably well, plus some interesting public art – including these two Mayflower related sculptures ….

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A lot of the run is dominated to the north by Canary Wharf

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There is a big gap in the Path where Convoys Wharf – other than the Olympia Warehouse, the site is a wasteland; while the proposed redevelopment will cut out the detour into Deptford, it will be at a terrible cost with an inappropriate development – the Deptford Dame’s post on this sums up the issues well.

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Then it’s on towards Greenwich

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… and a final look back before heading home – a good run which included 4 miles at 10k pace a decent achievement given the ‘parcours’.

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Earlier in the week my last long run before the marathon didn’t go quite to plan – the plan was 22 @ 8:15, but I realised at about 10 miles that my legs were feeling really tired at a point I was expecting to be just going into cruise control. I gave it another couple of miles and then reduced my pace quite a lot – it was a struggle towards the end but I kept it going for 20 miles.

It was a bit disappointing, but not a disaster – I think my legs are still tired from last week’s long run and combine that with feeling a bit under the weather this week as well as a lot of running into a string wind – so it wasn’t that surprising. I think my body is ready for the taper ….

Here Comes the Sun

After a midweek with around 32 miles covered in which it rained for every single one of them, this morning’s circuit through Blackheath, Charlton and along the Thames Path was one to savour. The sky was blue, the sun was out and the light almost perfect as I passed some of the few remaining working wharves.

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The ‘highlights’ of the wetter part of this week’s running …
– 5 x 800m reps
– 3.5 mile tempo run
– 17.7 miles @ 8:28
– plus, the sunny 8.2. @ 8:00 marathon pace