Britain's winter wanderland
Start at Westminster Bridge and follow the walkway east along the south bank of the Thames. The London Eye, Southbank Centre, Tate Modern and Shakespeare’s Globe are just some of the icons you stroll past, while river views to St Paul’s and the grand buildings on the north bank are among the finest in London. After two miles, after passing under London Bridge almost without noticing, is Tower Bridge, a fabulous example of Victorian engineering, drama and style. Cross the bridge and follow the embankment walkway downstream (now with the river on your right). Within a few hundred yards, the path turns into St Katharine Docks. Beyond here, the walkway follows the river again and soon reaches Hermitage Community Moorings, where a collection of vessels are moored. The route keeps heading in the same direction, sometimes next to the river, at other times ducking inland to follow cobbled streets between former warehouses now converted to flats and offices. Look out for signposts indicating the Thames Path – you’re on the final miles of this longdistance National Trail which follows England’s best-known river from its Cotswolds source to the Thames Barrier.
At the end of a street called Wapping Wall is The Prospect of Whitby, a famous old riverside pub. There’s a garden terrace, but in winter you’re better off in the downstairs room with its wooden beams, stone floor and pewter-topped bar. The best tables are near the windows at the back, which seem to overhang the Thames like the stern of an old sailing ship. From here, you can also see the gallows, complete with noose swaying in the breeze above the water – a reminder of the days when the notorious ‘hanging judge’, George Jeffreys, was a local at the pub back in the 17th century. More than 300 years on, the clientele has improved and the pub can sometimes be crowded, but choose an afternoon in winter and you can still enjoy a quiet drink, some no-frills pub grub and a definite sense of history.
Make it happen
This is a four-mile walk. The nearest stations to the start and finish are Westminster (underground) and Wapping (overground) respectively.
The Prospect of Whitby is open daily, with food served 12 noon to around 9pm or 10pm, although in winter the kitchen may close at around 3pm to 5pm (mains from £8).
For somewhere to stay, continue the riverside theme at Guoman Tower Hotel next to Tower Bridge (from £190).