15 April 2009

Thames Crossings 0: Teddington

I spent a couple of days over Easter cycling all the cyclable crossings of the Thames, east from Teddington Lock – the tidal limit – to Dartford Crossing, mentioned in yesterday's post.

The rules of the ride are simple:
1. Start on the north bank at Teddington, cross here and head downriver.
2. Cross whenever you can.
3. Stay as close to the river as possible.

The Teddington crossing is actually just above the tidal limit, so I've numbered it zero, but it's the best place to start. Going downriver from here there are 30 more separate cyclable crossings, ending with that tunnel and bridge at Dartford.

The whole 31-crossing trip (bridges, tunnels, ferries) is best done over two leisurely days of about 20 miles (four hours' easy cycling) each, breaking it somewhere in central London. Most of the route is traffic-free, it's all flat, it's a fabulous mix of rural, suburban and cityscape scenery, and there is absolutely no shortage of cafes and pubs. And what wind there is should be behind you.

I'll cover one bridge per day on this blog over the next month.

Getting to Teddington is easy: there are plenty of trains from Waterloo, and the station is a few hundred metres from the bridge down High Street and Ferry Road. The bike map for this bit is London Cycling Guide No. 9, one of the excellent TfL series available free in bike shops or online.

Teddington's crossing is a pair of charming little Meccano-like bridges: a suspension (top right and middle right) and a girder (bottom right), which meet on a small island in the middle.

They were built in the late 1880s, paid for by local subscription. That was the beginning of the bike boom, but they were clearly designed as footbridges, with some steep steps. However, a couple of years ago, wooden ramps were added that give you and your bike smooth passage over the whole crossing.

From here it's a couple of miles of smooth traffic-free riverside tarmac or gravel along the south bank to the next crossing, a tiny passenger ferry.


  1. You didn't mention Teddington's most famous resident, Two-Ton Ted.

  2. Funnily enough, I debated with myself whether to mention Ernie and his nemesis. I suppose we should be mildly in favour of electric vehicles.

    But there's a puzzle. In the song, the widow 'known as Sue' (a nom de lait, then?) lives 'all alone in Lilley Lane at number twenty-two'.

    The London A to Z lists only only Lilley Lane, which is in Edgware, by the M1, up in NW7 - a long way from Teddington. It doesn't look very long though, so whether there's a No. 22 I don't know.

    Maybe after the Thames Crossings rides I'll do an Address in Novelty Songs ride. Suggestions welcome...

  3. I've used Teddington bridge a lot - our mate Marc used to live in Ham and his house is STILL FOR SALE - any takers??

  4. Upriver is quite nice tho... over Ted Bridge to S side, along to Kingston Bridge and over to N side, then alongside river to Hampton Court. Which is, curiously, where I'm going tomorrow... but that's another story. Think it gets complicated upriver from here if you try the alternating-sides thing...

  5. Maybe you could delete that whole exchange?
    Ever tried the Shepperton ferry?

  6. There's a few pics of Shepperton Ferry on my Bizarre Biking site:
    http://www.bike99.com/17.html...and there's a chapter about it in the book too. Shepperton Ferry is a few miles upriver and is a necessary part of the Thames Cycle Route west. Excitingly, you have to ring a bell to summon it *exactly on a quarter hour*, and if you get the timing wrong, they pretend they didn't hear.

  7. Ah of course it's in BB. Reminds me of a Swiss cable-car that ran once an hour - we turned up a minute early and were told to come back in a minute. Gotta love 'em....