Monday, 13 November 2017

London Brentford Thames Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 9.7 km (6 miles), terrain: flat

London Running Routes:
Best London Running Routes: Overview
Docklands-LimehouseRegent's Canal and Camden Town  
Hampstead Heath  
3-Parks Route: Hyde Park, Green Park, St. James' Park  
Regent's Park  
Hyde Park   

Chelsea
Heathrow Harmondsworth Moor  
Greenwich 

Richmond Park
Notting Hill
Victoria Park 
Wimbledon Common Trail Run
Royal Docks/ExCeL Route 
Kew / Brentford Thames Run 
For more running routes, see Route List. 

The Thames riverside in London is lined by a chain of fascinating neighborhoods, most with a uniquely British feel. They range along the whole river, from the wide industrial horizons of the tidal surge in the east, at Woolwich, to the meandering, tree-lined mellowness in Richmond and Kingston in the west, with relaxed swans gliding past houseboats hung with window-boxes.

This route follows the Thames in the west, out past Hammersmith and Chiswick. On the one side is resurgent neighborhood of Brentford, where the smaller River Brent flows into the Thames. On the other side is elegant Kew with its famous Kew Gardens, one of the most impressive botanical gardens in the world. 
Houses along Kew Green
NOTE: Originally, I wanted this to be a Kew Gardens run, but then I saw the £16 entrance fee, and I decided to run behind the gardens, along the Thames instead. Kew Gardens is a wonderful spot, though, so make sure you get there sometime when you will have enough time to enjoy it.

This route begins at Kew Bridge, and then heads upriver to the west, heading out along one shore of the Thames, then returning on the other shore. There is a lot of variety: with nature, islands, houseboats, shipwrecks, canals, old shipyards and warehouses, a dam, parks and a big palace, Syon House.
Looking upriver along the route from Kew Bridge
So if you're ready to discover another cool corner of this great city, let's head off to Kew Bridge on South Circular Road. There is a nearby South Western Railway station and a couple of bus lines to get you there.

Cross the bridge to the south side, where Kew begins. Now, turn right to head west along the tree-lined riverside path.

NOTE: The pleasant neighborhood of Kew is worth running through, too, just south of the bridge. Go discover it sometime!
The start of the trail
Now run upstream along the Thames, first passing a group of houseboats. The wooded island of Brentford Ait lies in the middle of the river here.

The brick wall of Kew Gardens lines the way to our left. Unfortunately, we won't get any good views of the gardens from here, but the Thames itself is entertaining enough.

Most of this half of the run is full of nature, with woods lining both sides of the river.

After we pass Kew Gardens, at about the 2.5-km mark, it looks as if we're running along a narrow causeway, with water to both sides. This is the beginning of the golf course, which stretches off to the east.

The river now curves southwards and takes you by another wooded island, Isleworth Eyot. It kind of reminds me of Tom Sawyer country.
The obelisk in the Old Deer Park
You'll soon see a dam coming into view, Richmond Lock. That's where we'll cross the river and head back. Next to the dam on the left is a big meadow, the Old Deer Park, with its obelisk near the river trail.

Richmond begins right after that next bridge ahead, Twickenham Bridge, but that's part of the Richmond Park Run (try it!).

So let's go up the stairs to take the arched footbridge above the dam to Isleworth on the other side.
Richmond Lock
On the other side of the river, stay on the riverside trail, running westwards as we pass the 4-km mark. In a few hundred meters, it will turn left, away from the river, to go around a new, walled-in development. You'll come to Richmond Road, where you follow it northwards along the tall brick wall through Isleworth .
Beginning of trail in Isleworth
The road makes a sharp turn to the left at a little roundabout, then a little square follows a few steps later. Turn right at that square to continue northwards along North Street.
Crossing Isleworth Common
In just a few steps, we'll come to an open green square, the Isleworth Village Common. Cut diagonally across the square on the path towards the arched gate through the little shopping center. On the other side, you'll come to Church Street at the 5-km mark.
Start of Church Street
Continue northwards along the street, and we're now back at the river.

You'll pass a boat's ramp at All Saints Church, and then Church Street turns left to leave the river.
Along Church Street
In a hundred meters, you'll come to the entrance of the next highlight of the run: Syon Park. Turn right onto Park Road to go through the iron gates into this private residence belonging to the Duke of Northumberland. The house and lands are open to the public, and lots of visitors go there for a tour, and a Hilton Hotel is located across from the palace.
Syon Park meadows
The land used to be an abbey, and before that it was the site of a Roman village. Each year, a archaeological dig uncovers more of the site.

There are wide meadows at the beginning, then you'll pass Syon House, the duke's London home, at the 6-km mark. Keep going straight along the road, with the Hilton Hotel parking lot along the left side.
Syon House
The road will eventually exit the park at London Road, a pretty busy road which soon becomes Brentford's High Street. Turn right onto London Road.

But this road is a bit too loud for my taste, so when we cross the bridge over the River Brent, take the steps down to the right, leading to the tow path along the canal-like river.

NOTE: If you want to explore some more, you can also run the other direction, upriver along the Brent, past a quickly redeveloping area with some huge corporate headquarters.
The River Brent, from the High Street bridge
Heading eastwards along the Brent, you'll pass a long line of narrowboats and other houseboats at the 7-km mark. When you come to an old railroad trestle, turn right to go under the trestle and then back up the few steps over the dike to rejoin the tow-path. The tow-paths were used by men and horses in previous days to pull barges along the river.

Just before you come to a little harbor basin, the tow-path switches sides: you have to cross a narrow footbridge to the south side, then continue along the Brent until the next bridge.

Now turn left to cross the bridge along Dock Road, and head north away from the river. Dock Road will take you back to Brentford High Street in just a hundred meters, heading by some industrial businesses.
In Watermans Park
Back at busy Brentford High Street, turn right and continue eastwards. You'll see the huge brick water tower at the London Museum of Water and Steam farther down the road, near the end at Kew Bridge. The museum is located in a Victorian-era steam-powered pumping station, and the tower was used to keep the water pressure constant.

After passing Ealing Road and a McDonald's, you'll see Watermans Park to your right side, along the river. Run down into the park to continue running directly along the water.

There are some sunken boats along the waterfront here, across from Brentford Ait.
Cool old sunken steamship
The trail ends at the east end of the park, where you have to rejoin High Street again, for just a hundred meters. But you can get back to the river at the next little street on the right side.

Back along the quiet riverside, just keep running the few steps back to Kew Bridge, passing more houseboats and riverside pubs until you arrive at the old brick bridge.

There you are, another great London run!

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