In between travels and adventures, I found myself in London for 3 weeks. While there I was staying in a relaxed hostel in East London, Park Villa, and my plan was to use the time to focus on blogging and meeting people. I didn’t want it all to be work though so set about to look for a mini adventure I could do easily in the city.
London is my favourite place and some of my most loved views come from the bridges that cross the Thames. Wouldn’t it be cool to try and hike across all of the bridges in one day? I didn’t even know if it was possible but purposefully set out with no plan because sometimes that’s how the best adventures come about.
What I ended up with was the perfect London Challenge!
London Bridge Challenge
So here are the rules I set myself. I must hike across all of the pedestrian bridges that cross the Thames river in London, starting in Hampton Court and finishing at Tower Bridge. There are 33 London Thames Bridges in total. 7 of them are railway only meaning that 26 are accessible to pedestrians.
Here are the bridges in order (bold are railway access only)
- Hampton Court Bridge
- Kingston Bridge
- Kingston Railway Bridge
- Teddington Lock Footbridges
- Richmond Bridge
- Richmond Railway Bridge
- Twickenham Bridge
- Richmond Lock and Footbridge
- Kew Bridge
- Kew Railway Bridge
- Chiswick Bridge
- Barnes Railway Bridge
- Hammersmith Bridge
- Putney Bridge
- Fulham Railway Bridge
- Wandsworth Bridge
- Battersea Railway Bridge
- Battersea Bridge
- Albert Bridge
- Chelsea Bridge
- Grosvenor Bridge
- Vauxhall Bridge
- Lambeth Bridge
- Westminster Bridge
- Hungerford Bridge & Golden Jubilee Bridge
- Waterloo Bridge
- Blackfriars Bridge
- Blackfriars Railway Bridge
- Millennium Bridge
- Southwark Bridge
- Cannon Street Railway Bridge
- London Bridge
- Tower Bridge
It took me a day to cross them all – just shy of 10 hours including breaks and 7 and a half hours of walking. I finished the challenge having clocked up 30.1 miles exactly!
London Bridge Challenge logistics
Logistically this is a really easy challenge to do. I did it by myself and used Google maps to get me between bridges. Most of the time you can easily follow the Thames via riverside footpaths and don’t need a map (especially as you reach more central London). The sections where the bridges are far apart I took the most direct route, usually via a road or residential street.
Start and finish
The challenge starts at Hampton Court Station which is right next to your first bridge. You can get to Hampton Court Station easily on the overground from Waterloo (changing at Surbiton) and Oyster cards are accepted. The walk ends at Tower Bridge where you can easily get to the Tower Hill Tube Station (on the Circle and District line)
There wasn’t as many cafes or pubs on the route as I was expecting. Putney makes a great place for a stop without having to detour (this was around the halfway mark, 15 miles). Here you can find some riverside pubs and a Wetherspoons if you need a cheap meal for a pick-up!
I also had a long break in Vauxhall where there is a convenient Pret and also at the National Theatre which has plenty of comfy seating for a break and a coffee shop. There was no shortage of benches along the way for a quick stop although my walk was on an especially frosty day so I kept these short.
Travel and accommodation
If you need somewhere to stay in London I can recommend Park Villa, a clean and quiet hostel that is conveniently located for this walk. They offer both shared and private rooms.
London Bridge Challenge route
You will see from my map below that when I crossed Albert Bridge I doubled back on myself. I did this for a number of reasons. It meant that I could walk through Battersea park (which is a nice walk) and could also avoid having to walk the detour around Battersea Power station in Vauxhal.
It also meant that when I finished the challenge I would be on the ‘right side’ of Tower Bridge so I could jump on the Tube at Tower Hill.
You could double back on any bridge before Battersea but Albert is a nice one!
How much of a challenge is it?
This was a long day walking 30 miles predominantly on concrete paths. The stairs up and down the bridges were always a welcome break! By mile 15 my feet were sore and my lower back hurting. This was a challenge for me…but I did complete it and with no training (I’d say I’m active but not especially fit).
The Thames really is a beautiful river with lots of parks along the way. I liked that when you reach central London it gets busy with tourists and street performers so there is plenty of distraction for the last push.
Section 1: Hampton Court to Twickenham, 3 bridges
Section 2: Twickenham to Kew, 4 bridges
Section 3: Kew to Barnes, 3 bridges
Section 4: Barnes to Battersea, 6 bridges
Section 5: Battersea to City of London, 10 bridges
Are you going to give it a go?
Do let me know if you plan to give this challenge a go…I would love to hear how you get on. I’ve decided that I want to repeat the challenge but this time will be doing it at night to add a different element and to see all the bridges lit up!