Thames Walk Westminster Palace to Tate Britain

Our main activity of the day got shot down when we arrived at Westminster Abbey to find a police barricade and the building closed to the public for an unannounced event.  Police said they expected Westminster Abbey to reopen around 1:30pm. We did not want to hang around the area for an hour waiting to enter the abbey at the same time as a big crowd.

The entire road beside the abbey was closed to pedestrian traffic on a Tuesday afternoon. We ended up crossing the street a couple times to eventually walk beneath Big Ben to Westminster Bridge. Rather than crossing the bridge, we backtracked alongside the Palace of Westminster to Victoria Tower Gardens on a walk beside the River Thames. There are paved walkways and benches and road crossings on the concrete embankment of the Thames. We were walking to Tate Britain Museum of British Art. We now had a backup tourist destination.

Big Ben

Grey November day in Westminster, London. Big Ben (officially Elizabeth Tower since 2012) and Palace of Westminster on north bank of River Thames. London Eye in background is on the south bank of River Thames.

Rodin - Victoria Tower Gardens

Auguste Rodin’s Les Bourgeois de Calais – ‘The Burghers of Calais’ in Victoria Tower Gardens with Victoria Tower of Westminster Palace looming overhead. The sculpture was unveiled July 1915.

Wikipedia has an interesting read on the sculpture’s historical representation from an event in 1347 during the Hundred Years’ War. The French can say these Rodin forms represent honor and sacrifice. The Brits can say this sculpture represents victories over the centuries.

Westminster Bridge

Victoria Tower Gardens park bench River Thames view. 

We stopped to gaze at the river and city views as we continued upstream along the river embankment path to the Tate Museum. Kelley was surprised to see some garbage in the river. My memory flashed back to all the garbage and stuff flowing down the Thames during my September hike around Battersea in an active and heavy rainstorm. There was quite a bit of debris of many small types of manufactured goods packaging rapidly heading east on the River Thames that day. The garbage seemed minor to me on this day walking to Tate Britain.

Loyalty Traveler – Battered by rain in Battersea London (Sep 16, 2015)

London MI5

SIS Building, the MI6 British Secret Service Intelligence building at Vauxhall Cross is the multi-leveled building behind the right end of the boat. This is the building shown being bombed in the James Bond Skyfall film opening scenes before they high-tech retrofit a Churchill WWII war bunker for the more secure MI6. The photo above is gazing upstream on the River Thames walkway near Tate Britain. The photo below is the downstream direction of the Thames, where another mile or two  the river flows past City of London on the north side and The Shard highrise building in Southwark London on the south side of the Thames.

London River Thames east

View of River Thames looking east to Lambeth Bridge and The Shard in Southwark, London.

The River Thames from Tate Museum past London Eye wheel runs south to north, then the river makes a 90 degree turn and flows easterly past St. Paul’s Cathedral, Tower of London and The Shard tower.

Tate Britain-Shard Google Maps

Google Maps London – Tate Britain is located bottom left by river near Vauxhall Bridge Road. The Shard in Southwark London is upper right pin on Google Maps. River Thames flows left to right to the sea.

I have walked much of the Thames River paths and sidewalks along the embankments in the center of London this past year. There is nearby road traffic in several long stretches of the embankment and paved paths beside the river walls can be filled with unpredictably moving tourist pedestrians and unrelenting joggers on the paths and cyclists speeding past on the road crossings as they go about staying fit in their city life. Maintaining focus is good practice on crowded days to avoid walking into people or have them walk into you, which is the far more probable occurrence in my case. I play defense lots of time to avoid collisions by unaware people in motion.

Other times you find yourself alone and think, What a trip!, I am in the middle of London, a city filled with millions of people, and nobody else is around here right now.

The battered by rain in Battersea hike I made in the September rainstorm is when I walked Vauxhall Bridge Road to on the southern bank around Battersea and crossed Albert Bridge Road and came back to Pimlico along the Chelsea Embankment. This walk along the River Thames enbankment path from Palace of Westminster through Victoria Tower Gardens to the Millbank Pier and Tate Britain was an extension of my previous walk two months earlier on an overnight layover in London on my way to Bergen, Norway.

Tate Britain National Collection of British Art

Tate Britain National Collection of British Art is housed near Vauxhall Bridge in central London.

Don’t get confused? There is also the Tate Modern Museum in Southwark, across the river from St. Paul’s Cathedral via a pedestrian bridge.

Tate Boat is a ferry along the River Thames between the two museums. The ferry runs every 40 minutes, nearly every day of the year to ferry passengers from Tate Britain at Millbank Pier to Embankment Pier at Tate Modern. Adult ticket price – £7.50 single, £15.00 return.

Tate Britain is the one of my favorite museums with its Millbank Road setting on a noisy traffic street beside the River Thames. There were not too many people crowding the place on a Tuesday afternoon in late November.


Tate Britain

To Come: Impressions inside the Tate Britain.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined in 2008.

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