The London Loop in Kingston

The London Loop is a route that runs around the edge of the capital. In the course of its 145-mile journey it runs through and alongside suburban streets, farms, woods, river meadows, recreation grounds, canal towpaths and forgotten bits of heath. The Loop (London Outer Orbital Path) was conceived in 1990 and has only recently come into being. It has been planned to run between public transport nodes and divides up naturally into fifteen comfortable day walks, beginning on the south bank of the Thames at Erith and running clockwise around the capital to end at Coldharbour Point, opposite Erith on the Essex bank.

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Old Malden

Royal Avenue

The Loop enters Kingston from one of its brief incursions into Surrey, part-way along a road known as Royal Avenue. This road is a bit of a mess - part surfaced, part gravel. Within 300 metres of crossing into Kinston the road comes out at the B284 (first image below), which in turn has been running parallel to the Hogsmill river.

Royal Avenue and St John the Baptist church

Follow the road briefly then turn into the little lane (second image above) that leads to the church of St John the Baptist. Here you turn left onto a rough track that leads down a slope and emerges once more on the banks of the Hogsmill.

River meadows beside the Hogsmill

Initially the riverside vista is an open and rather scrubby area. Turn right (north) and follow the most obvious path. It accompanies the river underneath a railway bridge, thereafter entering more benign scenery of river meadows. Over to your right is a school and a patch of woodland, beyond which are the residential roads of Old Malden; similar roads back onto the narrower ribbon of green on the opposite bank.

Hogsmill river meadows and main road crossing

About 600 metres after the railway bridge you're in for a rude awakening - the riverside path opens out onto the fighteningly busy dual carriageway of the A3 Kingston bypass. To find the continuation of the riverside path on the far side you have to turn left and walk west along the road for some 250 metres as far as the pedestrian underpass - and to reach this you have to cross a service road and bus route, so watch out for traffic. There's amother service road on the north side. Walk back along to the riverbridge and turn left into Hogsmill River Park. The path now follows the west bank of the river.

Hogsmill River Park

We're back in riverside meadow country again. The meadows look a bit sparse and scrubby early in the season so this is a walk best done in the height of summer when the vegetation is lush. Once again, residential roads back onto this ribbon of greenery on the west side of the river, while to the east side there is a series of sports grounds. After some 900 metres the trees open out and you see a large area of grass ahead, fringed with houses. You're aproaching Berrylands.


The LOOP approaches Berrylands

Berrylands is another brief flurry of residential roads but it's not long before you reach peace and quiet again - not that Berrylands is an urban jungle by any means. At the apex of the green area at the north  end of Hogsmill River Park,  turn left and walk along the quiet, tree-lined road of Surbiton Hill Park (first image below). After some 250 metres you reach the Berrylands pub and here you turn right, and go downhill the short distance to the station passing a short parade of shops. Walk through the tunnel under the railway line to find yourself on a tree-lined path and follow it half-left.


The path runs through an undeveloped area nearly a square kilometre in size. Much of it appears to be owned by Thames Water and you will probably notice the somewhat earthy smell that tells you a sewage treatment plant is not far away. The path runs for some 800 metres past the various waterworks facilities and then passes an area of workshops and light industrial yards, as well as a cemetry and accompanying stonemason's yard. After this you reach another residential road, Lower Marsh, and the locality of Villiers.


Lower Marsh

Walk along Lower Marsh until it comes out at the busy junction with Villiers Road. You're a bit of a way south of the Hogsmill here and it's necessary to walk north along Villiers Road for some 400 metres to regain it. Cross the river (second image below) and go on a little further past a school (third image). Now, follow the discrete sign and turn left along a series of riverside paths.

Villiers Road

Pathways beside the Hogsmill

Kingston on Thames

The route alongside the Hogsmill

This section looks bitty on the map and is also a sod to describe; fortunately it's not difficult to follow in practice. A series of paths and walkways allows you to walk beside the river, first on the north bank and then on the south, for most of the next half mile. Although you don't realise it you're progressing into the centre of Kingston-on-Thames. The route is a little surreptitious and it's a fair bet that many residents of Kingston don't even know that it exists. There are just a couple of brief excursions into suburban roads; at one point (first image above) you're disgorged briefly into Portland road before another walkway gets you back to the riverbank, where you pass along the rear of Kingston university. The river is quite pretty just here.

The Hogsmill passing Kingston university

Just past the University you reach a blue-painted girder bridge, which carries Springfield Road across the river. Here turn right and go a few yards (third image above) to a 5-way crossroads, where you turn hard right into Denmark Road.

Denmark Road and more riverside walkways

You don't need to walk very far along Denmark Road before another path gets you back to the riverbank. You're now in a small area of fairly smart residential flats, of which the waterside path is a feature. There's a pleasant little weir here. Follow the path, which squeezes itself between buildings (image below) to come out at a busy road junction just south of Kingston town centre.

Kingston Guildhall

Now things get a little tricky. The objective from here is to get to the riverside walkway beside (and partially underneath) Kingston's Guildhall.  First cross the main road (Penrhyn Road) at the pedestrian crossing, then turn right and cross King's Hall Road. Now go into St James Road, which curves off half left. Not many paces ahead and just before the riverbridge, turn left onto a riverside walkway (pictures, third image above).

Kingston Guildhall

The riverside walk emerges from the Guildhall grounds at the High St (third image, top row above). The far bank is disfigured by an ugly disused concrete platform but the environs of the High St just here are very pleasant. It's worth crossing the bridge and going round to the Guildhall grounds on the northeast bank of the river, where you'll find the Coronation Stone set within a construction of pillars and railings (first image, second row above).

Last section of the Hogsmill

There's barely 150 metres to go now until you reach the point where the Hogsmill flows into the Thames. Having crossed the High Street, find the narrow gate and flight of steps on the north side of the bridge that takes you down to a smart riverside piazza, fronted by residential apartments, bistros and bars. This development is typical of the way much of the Thames frontage has been smartened up within the last few years, and is most pleasing to the eye.

The Hogsmill reaches the Thames

At the far end of this piazza you energe onto the Thames waterfront itself, around 300 metres south of Kingston Bridge and adjacent to the Gazebo and Bishops pubs, quite grand affairs that appear to be more restaurant than pub nowadays. The waterfront is busy, with various moorings and side channels and even a little wildfowl refuge. Turn right to walk northwards along the river, to approach Kingston Bridge.

The Thames waterfront at Kingston Bridge

Now it's just a simple matter of climbing the steps to the main road over the river, and turning left to cross the bridge itself. The views upstream are handsome; from here the river curves around the grounds of Hampton Court and the far bank is undeveloped as far as the eye can see. At the centre of the bridge you leave Kingston and cross into the borough of Richmond.

Crossing the Thames into Richmond

Back to Borough of Kingston index page

This page last updated 16th July 2006