walk 1: hampton court to kingston bridge

5 Mar

Northside | Start: 15:09 | End: 16:34 | Duration: 1:25

Begin with a lone figure at the foot of a bridge, watch as they stretch, flex and adjust a backpack strap. Follow as they amble towards the curve of the path, palace, pavilion terrace, and turn a corner. Dressed in black, the walker is quiet but is not likely to mistake this silence for tranquillity, rather rapid contemplation, raincloud-spotting and the making of lists.

This city version of peacefulness (low murmurings and indistinct sounds of life) remains until voices rise and rise again in Saturday afternoon football game shouts. Look as the shorts and socks batter a ball against shins, posts and nets.

Note how land lifts on the opposite bank to reveal Seething Wells, the marvellously named former water treatment works with pipes wide-mouthed over the river.

By Raven’s Ait, a dead swan floats on the surface on the river. Listen as the water washes over the body, watch as the long neck slips into the water then raises again with a wave. Moorhens paddle nearby, guarding or intrigued.

Joggers and scooters increase as Kingston Bridge comes into view. The walker counts the teenage Ugg Boots skipping over fences. Anglers use their tents as shelters; leave their rods on the riverbank as they smoke under cover.

Marching up the steps to the route end, the figure gathers up her wind-beaten hair in fists to hold against her nose, like flowers. A line of footsteps, a notebook and the endless flocking of green parakeets around the trees might best summarise this walk. Rowers row, a church bell rings.

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