I’m particularly fond of the Thames Path walk from Putney to Battersea. I have walked various versions of the route more times than I can count. It is of course my stomping ground. So, I thought I would show you what it’s about. For this walk I will take you as far as Battersea Park
There is opportunity to walk on both sides of the river with numerous bridge crossing opportunities along the way.
This is where the conundrum may lay. If you walk from Putney to Battersea, knowing which side of the river is the better side of the Thames Path. This is where I come in.
First off, there is one route I recommend for the section of the walk from Putney to Wandsworth Bridge. It involves two (or one) bridge crossings, arriving at Wandsworth Bridge on the south side. From here, I will show you 2 options to continue the walk towards Battersea Park. The north side or south side. Each has something the other side doesn’t.
I’m hoping that by showing you both, you can decide which side of the Thames Path you like best, on the walk between Putney and Battersea.
The north side of the river on the Putney to Battersea Thames Path walk
If I had to pick, I would probably say this is my favourite side on the section between Wandsworth Bridge and Battersea Park. It is way more peaceful (mostly). You are far enough away from the road that you don’t hear it. It’s way less crowded in terms of people traffic. You get to see up close Lots Road Power Station, the lesser known cousin of Battersea Power Station. You also get a fantastic view of the London skyline.
The one downside to this side of the river, on the walk between Putney and Battersea, is, although it is very peaceful, it is bookended with chaos. First along Wandsworth Bridge which is an ugly noisy bridge, and seems to be permanently under construction maintenance. And then on the other end, the remainder of the Thames Path walk route towards Battersea Park, takes you away from the river briefly, and then along the busy Embankment (you will have an option to cross back over the river here to get away from the road).
The south side of the river on the Putney to Battersea Thames Path walk
For many years, this is the side I usually walked on. It’s a big path, and you can walk almost the whole of the Thames Path straight to Battersea Park without going onto the road. I also slightly prefer the views form this side, to the older buildings across the River Thames (mixed in with some newer ones). This side of the river is dominated with giant new build apartment complexes, which will be a lot of your view, if you are on the other side.
As I said, this was the side I usually used to walk along…then lockdown happened. What used to be a lovely place to walk along the river, became crowded, like, the kind of crowded where runners trying to dodge the people walking, would knock into you. I have never seen this many people walking along the river (no judgement here, it’s great people were getting out for walks).
It’s never fully recovered. Yes, the crowded chaos has died down a little, but I still avoid it like the plague on weekends and sunny days.
One other thing I’m not crazy about on this side of the river, is that a road runs kind of parallel to it the whole way. So there is always car noise.
What are your river crossing options on the walk between Putney and Battersea along the Thames Path?
Putney Bridge, Fulham Railway Bridge, Wandsworth Bridge, Battersea Bridge, Albert Bridge. I will tell you some fun facts about each one when I go on to describe the walk further down.
Points of interest on the walk between Putney and Battersea along the Thames Path
Apart from the bridges, you have sculptures, statues, a helipad, a church, a yacht yard, barges, house boats, power stations, and one of the best parks in London (in my opinion). I will show you and tell you about each when I describe the walk below.
For this post, I don’t take you into the park, but I get you right up to it, so you can go and explore at will. I have actually written about the Thames Path river walk in Battersea Park on my other website, if you want to see what it’s like.
Logistics for the walk from Putney to Battersea along the Thames Path
- Start: Putney Bridge
- Finish: Albert Bridge
- How to get there: Putney Bridge underground station is zone 2 on the District line, on the north side of the river. Putney overground is on the high street on the south side of the river. You can get a direct train here from Clapham Junction and Waterloo. At Albert Bridge, you can get on the Thames Clippers River bus from Cadogan pier. Alternatively, if you walk through Battersea Park, you will reach Battersea Power Station underground, or Queenstown road and Battersea Park overground.
- Alternative start/finish: Wandsworth overground station is a few minutes walk from the river. Or one of the river bus piers which are at various points along the route (see below for details).
- Distance: 5 miles (4.8)
- Time: 1h 45min (can be done quicker. I stopped a lot for photos)
- Difficulty: Easy
- Tips/amenities: Putney should have everything you need. There are lots of benches en route. Halfway in, there is a giant Sainsbury’s on the north side, if you need a toilet stop. There are usually a couple of coffee trucks along the south side route. At Wandsworth Bridge there is the Ship pub (it’s a popular one). At Albert Bridge there is the Prince Albert Pub. Or, if you walk through Battersea park to the other side, there are lots of restaurants.
- Time of year: The photos I took for this post were from autumn/winter.
Thames Clippers river bus
The route is served by the Thames Clippers river bus. The piers along the route are Putney, Wandsworth Riverside Quarter, Planation Wharf, Chelsea Harbour, Cadogan. Then if you do decided to walk to the other side of Battersea Park, you have Battersea Power Station pier. Now, be careful of the times. This route is only in operation during commuter times. It is essentially used for commuters needing to get into the city for work. As such, it does not run on weekends, and on weekdays it stops running late morning and starts up again later on in the afternoon. Battersea Power Station pier operates differently, and you can catch a boat from there to take you east along the river on weekends and daytime.
Map for the walk from Putney to Battersea along the Thames Path
I have only included the north side Thames Path walk route in the map. The south side is pretty self explanatory.
– I will show more ideas for walks along the Thames Path at the end of the post –
A Guide To The Walk From Putney To Battersea Along The Thames Path
Now, to start this walk, if you have arrived on the south side, I would recommend walking across Putney Bridge to the north side of the river.
Fun facts about Putney Bridge:
- It’s a grade II listed bridge.
- This is not the original. It was first built in 1729 (back then it was known as Fulham Bridge). In 1870 it was badly damaged by a barge collision, and subsequently demolished to make way for the new bridge. The new one (the one we see today) was completed in 1886.
- The play ‘Once Upon a Bridge’ by Sonya Kelly was inspired by an incident that occurred on the bridge. It’s not a fun incident.
Just across the river, take the steps down to reach the river side. If you look ahead, you will see Fulham Railway Bridge. The only reason to start off the Putney to Battersea walk on the North side of the river, is so you get to cross over that bridge 🙂
So go ahead and cross it.
Fun facts about Fulham Railway Bridge:
- It opened in 1889 and was designed for the London and Southwestern Railway.
- In the mid 90’s it was refurbished for the London Underground.
- Also known as the Iron Bridge
You will notice, just before the steps up to the bridge, there is a Thames Path sign telling you to go the other way, and not over the bridge. Ignore that.
Yes, you can continue staying on this side of the river but it’s not the best bit. It’s mostly on residential roads, and an average park before you walk back along the river again.
So as I was saying, walk over Fulham Railway Bridge to get onto the south side of the river.
Once down the steps, you will be on a residential street. Turn left here, and it’s only a short walk before reaching the archway to the mews homes. Once through the mews, you will be in Wandsworth park.
Walk through Wandsworth park and navigate the new build apartments
In Wandsworth park, to the left there is a tree lined path and a river side path. Take whichever, to lead you to the other side and exit.
A short way along you will reach an area that is subject to change. At the time of writing, the Thames Path takes you off the river side. Normally you would be able to keep to the river, but it’s currently closed due to construction.
Once construction is finished, you can just stick to the river, but for now….
Follow the sign to the right to reach the apartment complex road. Here you might notice a Thames Path sign which you can ignore. It directs you off this road to another. It’s totally unnecessary. Just stay on this road, and at the end you can walk alongside the river again.
Walk over the bridge and past the industrial looking area
Follow the river as it curves around and to a cute little bridge over the Bell Lane creak and River Wandle. Go over it, and continue down to the road and industrial looking area. Incase you are wondering, the area to your left is a waste place. You know, where all the rubbish goes. It is not smelly though.
Anyway, stay going straight on this road, to reach a cute Riverside walk path sign. Here go left, to walk back onto the riverside Thames Path.
Walk to Wandsworth Bridge
Continue following the river towards Wandsworth Bridge. At the time of writing the bridge is covered over. It has been this way for a long time, and is a pain to walk over due to construction stuff in the way. As such I don’t like this bridge much. Although, I wonder how it will look once it’s all finished. Maybe I won’t dislike it so much.
Fun facts about Wandsworth Bridge:
- It is one of Londons busiest bridges.
- This is not the original one. It was rebuilt and completed in 1940.
- The colour scheme of blues was such to camouflage it from German and Italian air raids during the war.
- I don’t know for sure why it’s forever under some sort of construction, but I read there is a new design feature coming.
Anyway, you do briefly walk away from the riverside to reach the bridge. It’s fairly easy to navigate though. For reference, it is here that you will walk past The Ship pub.
When you reach the bridge, the Thames Path goes under it. Go under it. Even if you plan to walk over the bridge to walk along the north side towards Battersea, still go under it. It will be a pain to cross over on the road level.
We have now reached the point in the walk where you need to decided to walk north of south along the Thames Path, for the remainder of the Putney to Battersea walk. I’m going to start off by showing you the north side all the way to Battersea Park. After which, I will show you the south side.
Continue the Putney to Battersea Thames Path walk on the north side of the river
Once under Wandsworth bridge, take the steps to walk up to it, and cross over the river. I have no photos for this bit, as (at the time of writing) it’s super ugly. It’s also noisy as hell and the pathway is partially obstructed by construction. You just need to bear with it, because it soon gets real good.
At the end, at the road junction, walk to the right and passed the big Sainsbury’s. If you need a toilet break (or snacks) this is a good pitstop. Actually, when I came out to track this walk and take photos, I popped in to use the toilet. Then I noticed some good stuff on discount so I picked out a couple of things. A couple of things turned into a big shop, and next thing I know I have a few bags of shopping.
I had to abandon the walk and go home. But I came back the next day to finish it off.
Walk along the River Thames
Past the Sainsbury’s, just past the car park entrance, is an alley type path to the right. This will lead you back onto the river to continue the Putney Battersea walk.
As you walk further away from the bridge, you always walk further away from the noise. It is along here things become super peaceful.
If you look across the river, you can see the helipad, and if you are lucky, you will catch a helicopter. They actually come and go pretty frequently so you will probably be lucky.
You will pass by Imperial park on your left, and lots of boats in the river on your right.
The bridge you will see ahead is a railway bridge. Once you go under it, you will be greeted by a big anchor, and a bit further along, the giant hand sculptures. I have no idea of the meaning of them.
There is a nice place to sit here. A bench looking across the river towards St Mary’s church on the other side.
I like the juxtaposition of the old with the new.
Walk though Chelsea Harbour
You will notice a small bridge with traffic lights. These are boat traffic lights, to lead into Chelsea Harbour.
From here, you can continue straight along the river, or walk left to go the the harbour. I recommend left, to go and see all the boats and the giant fish sculpture.
When you reach the harbour, walk along the right side, then when the path curves left, you should see some steps to the right. If you take those, you will walk back onto the river.
Walk to the London Skyline viewpoint
Walking along the river, before you reach the corner, some of the apartments on the left have paths you can walk into their grounds. One has a really nice water feature. It’s quite relaxing to go and sit next to.
When you do reach the corner, you have 3 treats waiting for you.
First off, from here you can look straight along the River Thames with a view to the city skyscrapers and the London Eye in the distance.
If you look behind you, you will have the Lots road Power Station. At the time of writing, the power station is under construction.
If you look behind and straight up, you also get something else. I won’t tell you what it is. I will leave that as a surprise 😉
Walk along Lots road
Unfortunately, this is where the peace ends. You now need to follow the path around the power station and over a bridge to reach Lots road. On Lots road, go right.
You will pass by some nice colourful building facades and the Lots road pumping station. It’s pretty cool to see actually. It’s a 1904 grade II listed building.
You will have the option to walk into Cremorne Gardens. You can’t go anywhere from here. It’s more of a, go in, take a look, chill if you wish, then go out. You do get that that nice London skyline view from in there.
Walk along Chelsea Embankment
Past Cremorne Gardens, you will next be walking along the Chelsea Embankment. It’s a very busy road, but you do get some nice boat houses to look at.
You will have an opportunity coming up to cross back over the river on Battersea Bridge. If decide you want to stay on this side of the River Thames for the remainder of the Putney to Battersea walk, be careful when crossing over the road at the bridge. It’s a pretty sketchy crossing, and people have been hit here.
Fun facts about Battersea Bridge:
- Like many others, this is also not the original Battersea Bridge. The first one was opened in 1771. It was demolished and rebuilt in 1885.
- The original bridge was dangerous, with passing ships and boats often colliding with it.
- The original bridge was actually the last surviving wooden bridge in London and has been the subject of many paintings.
- It is one of the narrowest and least busy road bridges in London.
I do actually like this side of the river to walk on. Despite the road, it’s quite pretty. With the wrought iron benches, overhanging trees and old fashioned lamp posts.
As you approach Albert Bridge, there is a sculpture of a woman. This is one of the works of F.Derwent Wood. A famous British sculptor.
Walk over Albert Bridge to Battersea Park, finishing the Thames Path walk from Putney
My favourite bridge. Albert Bridge. Here you can see him all lit up. When you cross over the bridge, you get a view towards Chelsea Bridge and Battersea Power Station to the east.
Over the bridge, if you want to get to a train station, you need to now walk through the park to the other side. Alternatively, if you go back to the north side of the river, you can catch a boat from Cadogan pier which will take you back to Putney (see logistic notes for details).
Fun facts about Albert Bridge:
- It wobbles. It’s very subtle, but go and stand on it and you will see.
- Measures are in place to restrict the size and number of vehicles that can be on it, to stop it collapsing. As such, it’s not as car heavy as the other bridges.
- Due to its wobble and risk of collapse, signs were put up to prevent troops from (the now closed) Chelsea Barracks to instruct soldiers to break step on the bridge. The signs are still there.
- It is one of two remaining original Bridges in London.
- Built in the 1800’s, it was originally a toll bridge, and the toll booths remain today. These are the only bridge toll booths left standing in London.
- As you may have gathered from the previous facts, for a long time is was not very structurally safe. There have been talks about replacing it, but luckily this was protested against. Instead it was closed for 22 months for repair work to make it more safe.
Now for my favourite fun fact:
- One of the things that was replaced in the repair work, was the timber which had been rotted away by dog urine from dogs from Battersea Park and the dogs home.
Now I am going to show you what to expect if you choose to walk along the south side of the river.
Continue the Putney to Battersea Thames Path walk on the south side of the river
Once you walk under Wandsworth Bridge, just continue along the river side path. You will go past Plantation Wharf riverside pier and all the house boats. Then a wooden platform where all the birds like to hang out.
When you reach the helipad, you need to walk away from the river for a brief moment. Follow the perimeter of it around and over the wooden footbridge on the other side.
Under the archway of the railway bridge, you will walk alongside a little green with the road on the other side. You will see what I mean about walking near the road and road noise.
Ahead of you, you have the jigsaw puzzle type building, and then things open up ahead of you for a cute view across to St Mary’s Church.
Walk past St Mary’s Church and towards Battersea Bridge
Walk into the church grounds, where you will find some nice sitting benches and sometimes a bright orange coffee/bakery van.
Through the church, continue along the river to reach Battersea Bridge.
Just before Battersea Bridge you will see the 2 people and a baby sculpture. It’s called ‘In town’.
Now, Battersea Bridge can be tricky to cross over (although it’s not as dangerous here as trying to cross it on the north side). Once across, take the angled walkway back down to the river. You will walk past the 2 swans sculptures here.
Walk towards Albert Bridge and Battersea park to finish the Thames Path walk from Putney
The rest of the walk towards Albert Bridge is complete unobstructed by roads. The path is wide and open, with mirror glass buildings to the right, and some sort of ship docked to the left. For some reason, I always think of it as a pirate ship. I actually have no idea what it is.
Top tip: Take a glass mirror selfie.
Another top tip: If you didn’t grab a coffee at St Mary’s Church, and now changed your mind. To the right, and under the buildings, there is sometimes a little coffee truck.
Keep going, and you will cross over Ransome’s Dock. This dock remains as it was during the Victorian times. Then you will reach Albert Bridge and Battersea Park.
More walks along the Thames Path in London
Richmond to Putney – 9 miles all along the south side of the River Thames. Very green, and you will pass by some historic bridges and buildings.
Richmond to Hampton Court and Bushy Park – 9 miles give or take. It’s a lovely stretch of the River Thames. Very very green and lush. Makes you forget you are in London. Plus you get to go to Bushy Park and see the deer.
Westminster Embankment walk – Over on my other website. It’s a good one if you want to be tourist and take in some iconic London building and structures.
You can also find a more detailed side by side view of walks along the Thames Path here.