Thames Path : My Search for Father Thames – 25th April 2018

The day after I finished the Thames path ( remember most of my days off since Christmas has been spent on the Thames path) my eldest son casually mentioned a book he had read about the river Thames , it was called The Rivers of London. Book was instantly down loaded and is now being read. It then started to bug me that I had missed the statue that sits at St Johns lock near Lechlade , I can only presume that I was in full conversation with Tracy who walked that section with me and we were taking little notice of our surroundings as we walked. I am now 5 days away from starting the South West Coast Path and its niggling me . Dot offered to come with me and off we went to Lechlade. The day was breezy , with a sky threatening of showers. The leaves are out on the trees and everything is summer like . This year we seem to have missed out spring all together . The path was relatively dry , and Dot was able to have some time off the lead . We go past the fitst pill box on the Thames and ahead of us is the lock . In front of the Lock keepers cottage is a large statue of Father Thames . How did we miss that ? Anyway a short walk and back to the car, after taking some photos .  The rain starts falling just as I get to the car . I call that closer now , here is to my next challenge.

Book recommendations : Walking in the Rain and Rivers of London . Enjoy

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Hay on Wye to Kington : 1st April 2018

Significant birthdays prompted a family gathering , this time we stayed at a youth hostal in Kington in Herefordshire. About 40 of us stayed for the Easter Weekend , generations of the Marshall dynasty . With 4 generations under one roof there was no way it was going to be a quiet calm weekend. It was a blast , Friday night we all settled in and had a catch up with each family group. Sautrday involved a meal and birthday cake , pub quiz and then some music which went on until late. We planned to walk a section of Offas Dyke the next day but we knew the younger generations would probably not make the early start , some of the older generations struggled . Tracey , Nick , Julie , Matt and myself were dropped off at Hay on Wye to start the 15mile walk , the scenery was far from spring like as in the distance were the snow capped mountains and a threatening chill in the air , snow was forecast for the next day. We followed the river Wye for a short distance and then up toward some farm land . We saw lots of sheep with their lambs , A few hikers were out , families back packing for the weekend , infact we saw one family who had got lost twice whilst we were walking , overtaking us and the ending up behind us again. We stopped at Newchurch and enjoyed their offer of tea and coffee , the church was set for Easter with daffodils , tea was welcomed and we were joined by Aj , Sue and Craig , to continue the walk with us. The direction the began upwards towards Hergest Ridge and surpisingly with monkey puzzle tree.

We were now heading down towards Kington , I had struggled going up hill quite a bit and wondered whether it was the amount of gin I had drank the night before that had caused this . Anyway we all ended up in the pub for a pint . Then back to the Youth Hostel for a lovely roast dinner cooked by my younger cousins , Mannon and Beth , what an amazing family .

 

Tower Bridge to Thames Barrier 25th March

We left home early , after going to bed early and missing an hour as last night the clocks went back an hour. We drove into London and parked. We got the tube to Tower Hill tube station. I messaged my friend Steve who said he would walk with us on the last leg . We met a St Catherines dock , now walking along the North side . We went past some lovely old pubs including the Grapes. Once at Canary Whalf we stopped for a coffee at Steves flat which had a balcony looking over the Thames. Next we walked under the Greenwich foot tunnel and came out by the Cutty Sark and Greenwich we walked up the hill and saw the meridian line. Onwards towards the O2 arena , we were so close now and as we rounded the corner we could see it in the distance. As we reached the Thames Barrier , the area is being developed and not the most pictureque but you know CHALLENGE completed. Lots of photos taken , memories of my journey , one that had started by accident with a wander around the local sections in Oxfordshire, it had become an obsession over the last few weeks with every day off on the Thames. I did it 160miles , with lots of support from friends and family . We finished off, back at St Catherines Dock at a beautiful pub Charles Dickens Inn , spot of rehydration needed with a local real ale of course.

Heres to the next challenge!

 

Putney to Tower Bridge 20th March

So on the bus again , Oxford to London , tube to Putney . Very excited today as I have only two sections left . Big smile on my face as I walk along Putney Bridge towards Wandsworth and then Battersea , counting bridges now , Tower Bridge is the last one over the Thames on the Thames path. As I walk along Battersea park , with lots of people running in their lunch time , I  can feel the path changing as I enter central London. Having walked this section on the Moonwalk , it was nice to see it in the day light . There were lots of people about , and pacing it out was quite difficult , also trying to video and take pictures made me feel a bit self conscious. As I passed the amazing London land marks the path became busier , I was pleased with my trainers on decision as the path was mostly pavement. Waterloo Bridge was amazing with red double decker buses across its span. Lots of tourists now and I am struggling with the masses and wish I was back in Oxfordshire walking along the rural banks with the isolated pubs . At last I reach Tower Bridge – Tube , Bus – Home . Back to finish it on Sunday .

Kingston up on Thames to Putney Bridge 19th March

Monday morning saw me on the bus from Oxford heading into to London , then the tube to Wimbledon , train to Kingston up on Thames. It seemed to take ages . I reached Kingston at about 1100hrs . It has snowed the day before and the weather was cold , I was well wrapped up. It was odd seeing daffodils and blossom with snow on the ground. Two miles along the Thames I reached Teddington lock , the Thames becomes tidal from here. I decided to remain in the south side of the Thames . The path continues to be pretty rural as I walk towards Richmond , passing a very grand building of the Star and Garter. I had visited Richmond years ago with my friend Shelley and Aj we drank beer at the SLug and Lettuce. It seemed strange being there again . As I passed the pub a saw a sign saying High Tide at 1630hrs, it made me smile as I didn’t really get that it effected the river this far up . As I continued along the path I started to realise I was going under some significant bridges and going place some significant places, Twickenham ( where Ireland had beaten England on Sunday in the rugby , Eel Pie Island . After Richmond I walked around the boundary of Kew gardens , Kew bridge . As I go under Chiswick Bridge , I start to understand what high tide means , the road at the Ship Inn in Mortlake was under water and I detoured around for about a mile rejoining the path near Barnes. There was a high path following the reservoir . The next thing I know I am passing Boat houses , and approaching Hammersmith , the river side was preparing for the boat race on Saturday. I reached Putney where the boat race starts at about 1630hrs . I got on the tube ,back to the bus stop and back to Oxford . Back tomorrow

Cherstey to Kingston upon Thames

Great ! Awoke to the sound of rain on the roof of the van . I am still walking I exclaimed out loud , I know came the reply , cup of tea promptly put in my hand . Two Paracetamol later , I felt ready to face the world. The river outside rushing loudly through Chertsey weir. Day was to be fuelled by a breakfast of porridge with blueberries two cups of tea , one last look a the weir and I was off. I crossed back over the bridge and back on the path. Seriously was delighted to see a muddy path as I walked alongside Dumsley Down , lots of dog walkers around and I reached Shepperton Lock and wondered if the ferry would be running , well the boat was there but noone was in it . Decision made I would follow the alternative route , just needed to keep my eyes pealed for the acorn signs . 20minutes later , I crossed the road bridge to Walton on Thames . Buildings here were pretty along the side of the river , with lots of boat houses and boat yards.

The path then is gravel and I pass some water works machinary and along side the path is a victorian fencing and wall which looks like a perimeter to a larger water works estate. The path then followed along side a housing estate , many people out walking with children and dogs following to Hurst park , I could see the bridge and on the far side Hampton Court palace . I reached the bridge , I saw Aj and Dot waiting for me on the banks of the river near the Palace. We ate lunch together , Dot still hobbling poor thing , I know she would have walked with me if she could.

I left them and enjoyed the view of Hampton Court palace as I continued on to Kingston up on Thames , nice gravel path all the way and parakeets for company there were loads , bright green and very noisy . There were rowers on the river as I reached Kingston , where Aj picked me . Great trip and I am looking forward to continuing my journey in a couple of weeks so that I can finish the Thames path

You Tube of this section  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U2SK-Y8QRu4

 

Windsor to Chertsey : 5th March – Lisa , Aj and Dot Adventure

Very excited that we could take off for a couple of days and crack on with the Thames path with AJ being support vehicle and Dot could come too.

Arrived at Windsor at about 10 o’clock and set off along the Thames . Aj was going to drive to Chertsey and walk to Staines , walk back with me to Cherstey.

The path was fine but to be honest the scenery was a bit bland , Dot and I walked the miles and went through Old Windsor along the road and then back on the path towards Runnymede a historically significant place with very little to show for it . If it hadn’t been raining , I may have gone up to the monument but it meant crossing a busy road . I ate my lunch whilst walking and found myself , approaching Bell Weir Lock and the M25 motorway bridge. At this lock there were several Asian tourists wandering around outside a Hotel . I wondered if the knew the significance of Runnymede and the Magna Carta , whether they thought all of England was like this and how they felt about being in a Hotel next to a motorway,at this point I got a text message off Aj saying he had seen a Kingfisher, I was a bit annoyed as I hadn’t seen one in the whole of my journey along the Thames , a few choices words were text back to him

As I continued along the side of the river next to suburban buildings going in to Egham , I approached the bridge crossing the river to Staines , I could just see Aj and two pints at the Slug and Lettuce pub. Dot was delighted to see him, unfortunately she had another 4 miles to walk before she could give up on the Thames path .

Aj showed me the Kingfisher he saw – it was a scupture , more choice words expressed , the rest of the walk to Chertsey remained unremarkable , we saw an urban fox , wandering around the riverside houses on the bank opposite, lots of swans .

The scenery towards Cherstey was mostly that of gravel pits and suburbia , as we reached Chertsey bridge , we could see our campsite on the other side of the river , and Chertsey lock and Weir were pretty , the noise drowned out the noise of the M3 motorway which was need by .

Once at the campsite , we had a beer ( rehydration) and food , very nice campsite with clean facilities. All ready for tomorrow

Check out my video on YOUTUBE https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d32q0GquzIc&t=13s

 

Marlow to Windsor : Lisa on her own adventure 20th February

Plan to walk to WIndsor from Marlow , about 15 miles , so wasn’t sure that I would make that distance as the path has been really muddy which slows down the walking. Transport would be to drive to Marlow and park where Aj had parked last week near the Thames Path , parking was free so it made sense . Transport back from Windsor would be using the trains which is why I am on my own as I am not sure Dot would cope with three train journeys at rush hour.

I arrived at Marlow about 1015hrs , parked the car. I followed the dog walkers to find the path as it is being renovated and there was fencing every where. Once under the busy A404 I find the Thames tranquil and in the heart of the countryside again. Beautiful houses on the opposite bank with gardens backing on to the Thames . After about a mile and a half , I enter Bourne End a small track goes past some shed like buildings with their own moorings , behind them runs a train track , one of the buildings looked like an old train carriage. At the end of the track was the Bourne End Sailing club , its entrance was via a railway crossing . I walked on past the river side houses of Bourne End and again along a short track to a footbridge along side a railway bridge. On the other side of the river I walk through a NT Cock Marsh to a place called Cookham , through the church yard , in my guide book it tells me that there was a famous painter called Stanley Spencer – never heard of him before but he must be quite famous as he had a promenant grave in the church yard and a museum in the town. The bonus for me in Cookham was some local conveniences which was very clean and much needed comfort break . From the town , I follow the acorn to a track which also had some large houses down it , for about half a mile i follow the track before reaching the river , the path now quite narrow and nicely tree lined. The river flows towards Maidenhead and again spectacular houses line the river. I reach Boulters lock which is pretty with an island in the river and a nice pub on it , on closer inspection it was probably not the sort of pub that welcomes muddy boots. I am now in Maidenhead , pretty town on the river side , with a water fountain and a pretty bridge . As I cross over the bridge, I can see the railway bridge , built by Isambard Kingdom Brunel , it spans the river . It has record breaking low arches and is beautiful . The scenery becomes quite remote, muddy and a little bit boring, until I reach Bray lock . The noise from the water through the weir was loud and I hadnt noticed the bridge over the river , a few metres on which was the M4 . the underside of the bridge  was nice to photograph . As I continue there are more people on the path , young lads cycling or running , I realise I am near the Eton Colleges Rowing lake . Then on the right I see Windsor race course , the footpath starts to be less muddy and more of a gritted path. I am leg weary the middle stretch of the walk had been hard , but now with views of Windsor castle in the distance I am excited about the distance I have covered.

Once in Windsor , I cross the bridge and go through the town towards the train station and make my journey back to Marlow via Slough , over the amazing rail bridge to Maidenhead and then eventually back to Marlow through Bourne End .

Time to plan the next section , London I am getting close!

Henley to Marlow : Lisa , Jake, Matt , Dot and Buster adventure : 16th February 2018

Planned the walk earlier in the week , Matt was home from uni and had just celebrated his birthday , Jake was on holiday and we had a dog guest of Buster. We left Witney about 0930hrs and travelled to Henley parking at the Rowing Museum car park – £8 for the day , we walked past the Angel pub where I finished with Gayle and Deian in January. Aj was to meet us at Marlow at the end of the walk .

Crossing the bridge we found the path on the south side of the river, Jake noted the two sculptures on the bridge , Isis Mother Thames on one side and Father Thames on the other Henley was very busy being half term there was a lot of families in the town . As we walked along the river and past the regetta site the path was tarmaced and easy walking , however poor Dot likes the soft ground due to having corns on her pads , but with Buster full of life and wagging his tail he spurred Dot on. The buildings along the river at Henley are beautiful  and stylish with ornate boat houses on the north side of the river. Ahead of us we could see a white building on an island in the river – Temple Island , we then found ourselves aproaching Hambleden lock which was stunning and made the boys go wow. From there the dogs went back on the lead and we followed the path away from the river and up a small road towards a small village called Aston , and there we found ourselves approaching a pub called the Flowerpot , above we could see and hear red kites and a buzzard circled . We stopped at the pub , Matt waiting outside and Jake and I bought a couple of glasses of real ale and a can of coke for Matt. The pub was a time travel back 50 years , all sorts of mammals stuffed were on shelves and hanging off the walls. There was a parrot in a cage in the corner, fish in glass cases . The walls were yellow from a life time of nicotine staining. We liked it. After a 20 minute break we continued , walking past Culham court and through a deer park, we talked about the benefits of having a real ale half way on a walk , rehydration , mood elevator and supporting local community and pubs , no deer seen and then through a field along side the river full of sheep. We stopped by Hurley caravan park and sat on some benches to eat our sandwiches the weather was beautiful , Jake had bought some coffee and a hip flask of whisky. This was getting boozy but I had to drive back home from Henley so did not participate with this booze break. At Hurley lock we crossed the river over a small footbridge walked along the river on the island where there is a small campsite. Back over the river again off the island and back on the south side of the river. At Temple lock we crossed again , very nice long foot bridge . Aj had arrived at Marlow and was parked waiting for us . The path along this lock was very muddy and the poor dogs were covered in mud as were our boots . As we went past Bisham Abbey and church , lovely buildings photographed with some lovely reflections. From here we walked in to Marlow , the river side full of people enjoying the stunning sunny weather . We had to walk through a grave yard, some alleyways and roads well signposted until we returned to the Thames and found Aj in the support vehicle to drive us back to Henley to pick up my car.

Tilehurst to Henley : Lisa , Gayle and Deian adventure 27th January 2018

Gayle and Deian arrived at ours on Friday night , I had already suggested we walk along the Thames path to Gayle on the phone . Not sure she was prepared for the length and the muddiness of the Thames path. I explained the route to them both and as none of us had been to Henley before we were looking forward to the walk. Next morning we made sandwiches and packed lunch , Aj was going to drop us off at Tilehurst and meet us later at Henley. No Dot with us this time as she has sore pads in her feet after doing a road walk earlier in the week.

We arrived at Tilehurst at about 1030hrs , the path led us over the railway , then down on to the Thames path , we were soon able to view outstanding properties along the Thames. We came across the Reading promenade and a rowing club with boat house.At Reading we walked beside some river side residential buildings and past some bridges , road bridges and footbridges. At Caversham there was an island in the river with a bowls club . We then walked alongside sports fields and over a river inlet along side the railway again the landscape urban with grafitti and my first shopping trolley in the river ,the footpath well made and gravelled easy walking so far.

Deian was becoming hungry , well he is teenager , we approached Sonning with a lovely bridge and also a pub, The Great House . The weather was becoming wet so we took the opportunity to have a sit down , a beer , hot chocolate for Deian , we were given our own Igloo to sit in and Deian was able to have some of his packed lunch .

As we left the pub we went across the bridge and followed the Thames path signs. We went across a foot bridge as there seemed to be water everywhere , to our left and to our right . We saw a little sign saying Henley 2 hours that way , so off we went . The path was very muddy , weather continued to be drizzly . Gayle and I ate our packed lunch as we walked , the river was full .

We walked past Shiplake college and its lovely boat house. Shortly we left the Thames and walked away from it and through Shiplake a lovely village with pretty cottages . We then followed the path over a railway crossing and down a side path between buildings , bringing us out on a private road, we followed it past some very large houses the last one having its own narrow gadge railway , with a small station in the garden.

We rejoined the Thames , oh my the path was wet we were almost paddling , Aj was following us on the Viewranger app and text me to say he was in the pub by the bridge at Henley . We knew we were near but the going was heavy and we were getting leg weary. Through a gap in the trees however we came to Marsh Lock , it took our breath away the bridges over the river was made of wood , I can’t express how stunningly beautiful the Thames was at that moment with the rushing river going through the lock .

Once over the bridges we found ourselves nearer to the centre of Henley walking along the riverside path now a proper tarmac path , we walked past the Rowing museum and could see the Angel pub by the bridge , the street lights now lit as we approached 1600hrs it was being to get dark. Once inside , Aj had already bought us a pint and it was well needed. Have to say it was a good day and I enjoyed the variety of the scenery . I am going to wait a couple of weeks before I go back to the Thames path , the river was very full and areas were flooded , also I am going to need to plan getting to Henley , for the next leg of the Thames path