The walk starts in the streets of Teddington, a suburbanised 'village', taking in some popular culture trivia (verging on the ridiculous), then meanders through Bushy Park, second largest of the royal parks. Here is a concentration of more recent history, much of it relating to 'conflict' (especially WWII and the influence of ingenuity on the art of war). Mixed in are some nuggets from posh peoples' pasts and one or two minor struggles of the proletariat. On the far side of the park we attain the sublime, in the form of Hampton Court, a very grand former royal palace and home to some serious stiffs, amongst the intellectual and artistic greats of the past.
IMPORTANT NOTE: One part of the walk follows paths through the Woodland Gardens within Bushy Park. Dogs are NOT allowed in these gardens.
A Brief History: Left to its own devices a large river, nearing its mouth, will carve out a broad flat valley for itself, meandering over centuries back and forth across the valley bottom and laying down the soil beloved of farmers. The lower Thames is no exception, flowing through a wide flat valley formed first as a sideshow from the Alps mountain-building episode, then by the Anglian epoch Ice Age event. This latter caused the river to change its seaward route from north of the Chilterns to its present southern course through the London Basin. Jumping forward a few thousand years to the Middle Ages, greedy locals (farmers, fishermen and particularly millers) began to stop the river's wanderings with banks and mills and weirs, fixing its route for ever. Wealth came to the area due to London's proximity, also attracting rich and important people. Around this same period powerful landowners worked hard to protect their parcels of the most desirable land, enclosing them with fences and walls. The deer park, which later became the royal park, was first fully enclosed by Cardinal Wolsey in 1514 but much further jinking and weaving over the next two hundred years enlarged Bushy Park and Home Park to their present sizes. Finally, kick-started by the arrival of the railways, capitalism moved in, to make more money from the land by burying whatever they could buy under a weight of buildings. Fortunately for the diversity of this walk no single powerful group was able to have its own way entirely so elements of this whole process survive and can be glimpsed everywhere. But this walk through history follows these processes backwards through time (approximately).
The walk starts at Teddington Lock and finishes at Hampton Court train station.
Getting to the start point at Teddington Lock: Frequent buses from Kingston upon Thames train station (285 or 281) or Richmond train station (R68) will take you to Teddington Lock in around 10 to 20 minutes. From the bus stop head east to reach the lock itself.
The full walk can be viewed and printed via the iFootpath website - Conflict between Ridiculous and Sublime This walk is also available on the iFootpath App.
To book discount train tickets to this location please visit Train Genius