A Morning Walk Along the Thames


Lyndsey and I thought it would be fun to take Freddie across the Thames at Marble Hill Park on the Hammerton’s Ferry. There’s been a ferry there since 1908. I’ve known of it since my late teens when I visited my friend Tina in Twickenham where she was at college. Later, when married with kids of 2 and 5 and we moved to the area, Marble Hill was our local park, just a short walk away, and we were there frequently. The ferry was a great way to cross the river to the Ham and Petersham side of the Thames, from which you can walk one way towards Richmond or the other way towards Kingston. But of course for kids, just getting in a boat was fun in itself!

The plan was to walk there and cross over then have morning coffee in Petersham Nurseries’ Tea House. We were the only ones to board the ferry, which arrived back from the Ham side with a full boat just as we arrived. We paid our £1 for each adult and 50p for Freddie and were soon on our way. Freddie wasn’t too keen to sit still because it was all too exciting.


Once we’d got off, we watched the ferry heading back to the Twickenham side of the river, then walked along the towpath towards Richmond. The view along the river is wonderful, though the rather dull, cloudy morning didn’t allow such good photos as I’ve got before.


I used to do this walk quite often but hadn’t for a while. We turned off by Petersham Meadows and Petersham Farm to cut through a narrow alleyway to the nursery.


Petersham Nurseries are best known now for their restaurant (which is rather confusingly the ‘cafe’). Its heyday was a few years ago when now famous chef Skye Gyngell was head chef. I only ate there once (click here) when she was in charge of the kitchen, but it was one of the best meals I’ve ever had – and also one of the most expensive! A more recent visit wasn’t so impressive but it still has a good reputation. The Tea House is the place for snacks.


Coffee only comes in a cafetière and there were no croissants, only cake. The cakes are, of course, all made there and people rave about them. But I’ve never been so impressed (and I’m now thoroughly spoiled by being able to buy wonderful cakes at Your Bakery in Whitton).


At £14.50 for two coffees and cake, we’re talking expensive. Sadly, I still wasn’t impressed. The coffee was merely OK, the cake disappointing. Mine on the right of the photo above was ‘Orange and Almond’ but instead of lovely moist ground almonds as a base, there were large chunks of almond running through it; the texture of the cake apart from big lumps of nuts, was almost uncooked rather than moist. Never mind, we weren’t just there for the cake … it was a whole morning’s outing. And it had been fun getting there.


We took a slightly different route back to the ferry, going across Petersham Meadows where from a distance Freddie was able to see real cows for the first time (hot on his first boat experience!). He was keen to run after them but we didn’t think that was a good idea!

We caught the ferry just as it arrived on the Ham side and got on again. It’s just a couple of minutes crossing the river and then up a ramp and back onto the towpath on the Twickenham side.


It was getting close to lunchtime by now and Lyndsey suggested we stop at Corto Italian Deli for lunch where we could enjoy one of their brilliant antipasti plates and Freddie’s could have the children’s pasta – a good size portion, with homemade tomato sauce, for £3.


Freddie tucked in quite happily to his plate of pasta … until our antipasti arrived …


He clearly thought we’d got the better deal. So we ended up sharing and asking them to pack the rest of his pasta up to bring home.

It was a lovely morning and we felt we’d been enjoying some of the best the local area has to offer.


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A lifelong lover of good food and travel; writer and book editor

6 thoughts on “A Morning Walk Along the Thames

  1. That is a nice walk and especially when not too crowded. Here in Burgundy today’s sweltering heat has me craving for cool Thames breezes and tree-shaded towpaths. We have eaten at Petersham Nurseries several times over the years and I remember how entranced I was at the delightfully idiosyncratic setting as well as the beauty of the nursery itself. I loved Skye Gyngel’s cooking too. So it’s a pity to read your account – like everything else, it seems its very popularity causes standards to slip while it relies more and more on reputation to keep the punters coming. Shame.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Di. We’ve been sweltering here in London but it’s cooling down now! I’ve not eaten at the Petersham Nurseries restaurant for a while so don’t know how it is now. I’ve never been a fan of their cakes but used to go quite a lot for the lovely walk there and a bowl of homemade soup at lunchtime, or sandwich, which were always good.

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