London is my favourite place, and some of my most loved views come from the bridges that cross the Thames. Wanting to combine my love of the city with an adventure, I decided to set myself a challenge. I called it the London Bridges Walk. The challenge……to try and hike across all of the bridges in the capital in one day.
Could I do it?
I didn’t know if it was possible, but I purposefully set out with no plan because sometimes, that’s how the best adventures come about.
What I ended up with was an epic day out in the city, some very achy feet and a huge smile on my face because I’d done it!
This really was the perfect London hiking challenge! The London Bridges Challenge is a great mix of tough (but accessible) hiking and epic urban views.
Want to take on the challenge yourself? This blog acts as a London Bridges Walk self-guide. I’ve laid out all the logistics, put together a route and shared my top tips to make it easy for anyone wanting to give it a go.
Since putting this guide together, I’ve had a lot of people get in touch, letting me know that they are planning to take on the challenge – many of them for charity. Great! I’m always happy to help. I’m also a qualified Expedition Leader and experienced adventure tour company owner. So, if you are looking for someone to help you with planning and delivering this hike then please get in touch – [email protected]
Before we start….
If you are new to this blog, I’m Bex Band – a full-time UK adventurer, bestselling author and founder of the women’s adventure community Love Her Wild. I never used to be outdoorsy, but that all changed when, in my late 20’s, I decided, on a whim, to hike a 1000km trail.
Since then I’ve been addicted to going on adventures and have made it my mission to make getting outdoors as easy as possible.
For ongoing tips and inspiration on camping and adventure, make sure you follow me on Facebook and Instagram. Or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel. I give all my advice for free on my website. If you want to say thanks, you can buy me a coffee!
London Bridges Challenge: the rules
The rules of the challenge are simple……to hike across all of the pedestrian bridges that cross the Thames River in London, starting at Hampton Court and finishing at Tower Bridge, in a day.
There are thirty three London Thames Bridges in total. Seven of them are railway only, meaning that twenty six 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 ten hours. A total of seven and a half hours of walking and two and a half hours of resting.
I finished the challenge, having clocked up 30.1 miles exactly!
Don’t worry if this distance is too much…..you can easily do a shorter version (taking in the last most exciting central London bridges). More on that below.
London Bridges walk 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 weren’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.
If you need somewhere to stay in London before or after this challenge, I can recommend Park Villa, a clean and quiet hostel that is conveniently located for this walk. They offer both shared and private rooms.
Best route for the London Bridges walk
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 Vauxhall.
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 tough 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.
So yes, I’d say it’s tough!
If you are worried about completing the full distance, opt for the half day and start at Vauxhall. This will still make the hike a challenging 15 miles and will include all the major central bridges. Really you could pick up the route from anywhere along the way – aiming for a distance that works for you.
Need some inspiration?
Check out Adam’s blog….he felt inspired after reading my blog post and decided to run the route!
London Bridges walk map
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 take on the London Bridges Challenge?
Planning to give this London Bridges walk a go? I would LOVE to hear how you get on – let me know in the comments box below.
There are other ways you might want to do this challenge….
If you want to spice things up, how about doing it at night and seeing the city all lit up?
Or bringing the same concept – all-the-bridges walk – to a different city?
If you found this blog helpful, please follow my blog and adventures on Facebook and Instagram. Or you can subscribe to my YouTube channel. I give all my advice out for free on my website. If you want to say thanks, you can buy me a coffee!