Thames Path – Chertsey bridge to Windsor bridge (section 4)

Sun rising on the Thames at Chertsey
Sun rising on the Thames at Chertsey

What a sight to open your hotel room’s curtains to!

I had a great dinner, a great night and a really filling breakfast (vegetarian full English) at the Bridge Hotel in Chertsey. I began the walk in a nice but fresh morning (it was about 3 degrees Celsius when I started), around 08:00, hence all the layers, the hat and the gloves on the pictures.

Different approaches

Depending on the guide book you use, it can be in one go from Kingston-upon-Thames to Windsor (Dillon, P., 2015. The national trails. 2nd ed. Cicerone, p.105.) which is 18.5 miles; or in three separate sections from Kingston-upon-Thames to Chertsey (11miles), Chertsey to Staines, then Staines to Windsor (Hatts, L., 2016. The Thames path. 2nd ed. Cicerone, pp.66-91.). I decided to break this part of my walk in two sections rather than one or three, so today I was walking from Chertsey to Windsor bridge.

Chertsey Lock to Penton Hook Lock

The route this morning started back on the North bank alongside a road: on my left was the Thames and then Chertsey Lock; on my right was the Thames Side road. Although it wasn’t very busy, it was a change from the peaceful wooden areas from yesterday. The Thames itself seemed really quiet and also very high.

The ground was muddier than yesterday walking through grass. The grass was still wet and so were my shoes and socks, very quickly so I was considering changing my socks even though it was quite early in the day (little did I know what was to come later in the walk). I barely noticed crossing under the M3 and quickly was by Laleham Camping Club. It was a pleasant landscape I was admiring on the South bank, with pretty houses and boats.

There was a diversion on Ferry Lane unfortunately sending the cars onto the narrow Thames Side, where I was walking in absence of a walking path.

Shortly after this the path re-started. This part was the most enjoyable in today’s walk, overall very quiet, peaceful and allowing for a lot of thinking and reflection. Penton Hook Lock area was especially pleasant.

Penton Hook Lock to Staines

My feet had dried by the time I got to Staines. The sun was out by then too which made my walk more enjoyable. I had set off yesterday with the sun in my face and today it was very much behind me (when it was out).

At times on the walk feels like nothing happens but actually, little things happen and those human interactions can really make my day.

I failed to mention in yesterday’s blog that I had a fun crossing of the Thames on the ferry at Shepperton with a family which I assume were mum, dad, little child and grandparents. I believe the child was named Curtis, and he was really lively and wanted to get on fast boat. He made me smile. He rang the bell to call the ferry. I am guessing they were on a day out.

Earlier today, in Staines I talked for a while to a lady had a Schnauzer; it was really nice.

And then a man was walking past with a dog carrying a big stick. I stupidly commented on how a massive stick that was, while looking just below his waist, at his dog carrying the stick. Oh the embarrassment!

At Staines I’ve crossed over to the South Bank with the Thames on my right and buildings which seem to be offices on the left, before moving to a more industrial area. I saw more squirrels on this side of Staines.

After crossing a small bridge I crossed a wooded area. The sound of cars started to get louder and louder. Then I crossed under the M25.

I had a coffee (which may seem overpriced at nearly £5 for a black americano… and it wasn’t even *that* nice…) at The Runnymede on Thames Hotel. It’s a really nice, modern and clean building and the toilets were very clean.
I had my protein shake and took about 30 minutes break.

My advice, if you want a coffee and the use of toilets, is to carry on a little to the Runnymede Pleasure Ground. There’s a café and toilets there as well. So I would recommend to go there instead of the hotel if you can/ if it’s open.

Runnymede and Magna Carta

Walking along the National Trust – Runnymede and Ankerwycke area, I was looking at the map as I was looking for a sculpture called the Jurors. But unfortunately, I couldn’t see it from this side of the Old Windsor Road. The installation is by Hew Locke and tell the story of Justice from across the world.

The site of Runnymede is were the Magna Carta was sealed over 800 years ago: it is often considered the birthplace of modern democracy.

Further, I felt Ham Island to my right and carried along the Thames’ New Cut, as it’s called. I realised there’s sewage work over there so I’m glad I didn’t have to go around that part.

I made my way to Datchet. It’s not the nicest part of the walk, actually. It is very affluent and has a lot of magnificent houses but since I moved back to the North bank, there were no paths to walk on; you have to follow the road on tiny pavements, because everything’s privately owned by the Thames. There was a small public garden by the Thames as respite from all the mansions ‘blocking’ the Thames side. After a gap in the trees I managed to join the Thames path again, after crossing the road (there’s no pedestrian crossing there so you need to be cautious).

Drama in Windsor

As I crossed the Victoria Bridge, things got worse: the Thames path disappears…everything’s blocked off because of Windsor palace. There was a big playing field that would take me towards the Thames side so I started going across but walked both feet in sinking mud!

I walked further on, under a railway bridge. I had to cross through the boatyard towards an hexagonal brick tower and follow the road for a couple of minutes until I got back to the riverside. At that point, there was a railway to my left and to my right, still water from the lock.

The end of the road

The sign from the Thames Path was back, taking me on Romney walk, with Romney Island to the right, and Windsor Castle on the other side.

I finished today’s walk after 22 kilometres in 5h36. After a walk around, I found some public toilets in a car park and then made my way towards the Central station. I decided not to eat in Windsor as all seems too expensive. My train ticket was valid until 3pm as it was off-peak so I heading home 1h20min earlier than planned.

Tomorrow I’m back in Windsor for the fifth section of my walk. Until then, I’m off to rest up !

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