London walks: Row, row your boat gently up the Thames: Michael Leapman traces the race for Doggett's Coat and Badge from London Bridge to Chelsea

One of London's least-known annual events is the race for Doggett's Coat and Badge, to be held next Tuesday at 6.15pm. In 1716 the actor Thomas

Doggett instituted this prize for oarsmen, who row the five miles from London Bridge to Chelsea in about three-quarters of an hour.

It will take you longer to walk it, but with a route that passes through the historic heart of London it is worth the effort. You pass or cross nine bridges - of which only the first was there in Doggett's day.

It is a linear walk between Tube stations, so leave the car at home. From London Bridge station, cross Borough High Street and head briefly towards the bridge, then turn left down steps signposted to Glaziers' Hall. Just ahead of you, Southwark Cathedral is worth exploring for its medieval monuments, and from the piazza outside you can climb a few steps for a good river view, with St Paul's looming on the left.

Continue west along Clink Street beneath the magnificent rose window - all that remains of the former palace of the Bishops of Winchester - and the Clink Museum. This tells the bawdy history of the Clink prison and the brothels that used to line the river bank in the 17th century.

After passing under the railway bridge you get to the Anchor - one of the few genuinely old riverside pubs on the route. A tunnel takes you beneath the approach to Southwark Bridge and soon you see the reconstructed Globe

Theatre taking shape on your left, close to the site it occupied in Shakespeare's time.

Passing Cardinal's Wharf, and the house where Wren is supposed to have watched St Paul's being built, you come to the massive Bankside power station, soon to be a branch of the Tate Gallery.

Walk under Blackfriars railway bridge and then up to the road alongside the Daily Express building. Cross to the modern pub named after the Doggett's Coat and Badge race, then walk across Blackfriars Bridge, with its fine views in both directions, and down to the embankment on the north side.

Head towards Waterloo Bridge, passing Temple Tube station (notice the evocative, well-restored green cabmen's shelter) and the back of Somerset House, with views across the river to the South Bank arts complex. Beyond the bridge is Cleopatra's Needle, dating from 1500 BC.

Almost level with it, for a change from the river view, go into Embankment Gardens at the back of the Savoy Hotel, and enjoy the colourful

summer bedding. At the far north-west corner is the Watergate, built in 1626 as the

river entrance to the long-demolished York House. This shows how wide the river was before it was embanked in the last century.

Pass the bandstand and leave the park on Villiers Street. Turn right briefly, then left into a small shopping precinct labelled 'The Arches', beneath Terry Farrell's extravagant modern cloaking for Charing Cross station. Take the escalator on to Hungerford Bridge and one of the few footpaths that runs alongside a railway bridge.

At the end of the bridge turn away from the Festival Hall to head south - the river runs north-south at this point - alongside Jubilee Gardens, partly screened off for works on the Jubilee Line extension. Pass between the river and County Hall (under conversion into a luxury hotel) and climb up to cross the Westminster Bridge approach, continuing on the footpath beside St Thomas's Hospital.

Just before Lambeth Bridge you can enjoy the classic view of Barry's Houses of Parliament. Press on past the bridge, although you will have to leave the riverside to pass in front of Alembic House, where Lord Archer lives, and the new green and cream headquarters for MI6 - again by Terry Farrell. Cross the footbridge, then turn right and walk over Vauxhall Bridge. Steps at the north side lead to a brief river walk behind modern flats, where you can look back and see the statues on the bridge's piers: it is the only one in London that has them. Soon you are forced back on to the road, almost opposite

Dolphin Square.

Continue to Chelsea Bridge, with the view of the decaying Battersea power

station opposite, and note the golden galleons on the bridge itself. The oarsmen have a few hundred yards to go until the finish of the race at Cadogan Pier, but you may have had enough, so turn up Chelsea Bridge Road for Sloane Square.

Fact file

Distance: Five miles

Time: Less than three hours; add time for sightseeing.

Public Transport: Start: London Bridge (Northern Line). End: Sloane Square (District and Circle Lines).

(Photograph omitted)

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Direct Mail Machine Operative

    £13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an i...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

    £14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

    Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

    £14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

    Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

    £16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

    Day In a Page

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

    Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US