On Tuesday 9th November, I completed the fifth section of my Thames Path walk.
I started the walk on Windsor bridge where I had stopped the previous day, setting off on the North bank of the Thames, in Eton. It was a sunny morning, slightly warmer than the previous day.
Being back along the Thames rather than diverted away due to Private properties (on the previous day) felt lovely. The start of this section was indeed signed as being on a private property belonging to Eton College. But at least they were letting people walking there.
I’m went under the Windsor railway bridge, which I found fascinating. I really am growing to like those bridge and the engineering involved in the design and metalwork. I asked my partner if he could figure out why I’m started to be interested in bridges…I’ve never really taken an interest in these things before. He answered it was age! Well, so be it.
The woods, the colours, the path and the river were really nice. I was really enjoying and appreciating walking in the area and it quickly became my favourite part of the walk so far.
Shortly after passing under the A332 bridge, I had a lovely moment of warmth and gratitude and felt ‘well’ for a while. The Thames on my left, a meadow on my right, the sun on back and a lovely day ahead of me. It just felt right.
I was hoping to find some toilets at the Boveney Lock but there were none. There was a building without the roof and it did look like it could be a toilet but it was a disused urinal with lots of rubber rubbish left in it. No good for me. Not really pleasant either.
I think I need to write a whole new blog post about the lack of toilets on the Thames Path. Or maybe I need to hydrate less?
Just before Dorney Lake, I made a tiny detour to have a look inside the Chapel of Saint Mary Magdalene. I do like to visit churches. As a kid and teenager I rarely ever passed a religious place without entering/visiting if I could; so my curiosity took me inside the chapel.
Shortly after that I had my first nature wee of the walk! I didn’t want to but had little choice.
Further along, I carried on the walk, passing the Dorney Lake on my right and a big building which is a rowing club house for Eton, I believe.
I reached the bridge under the M4 at about one o’clock. That bridge was built in the 1960s and recently work was undertaken to the bridge as the M4 is turned in a ‘smart motorway’.
By the time I reached Bray lock, I had done 5 miles and I was started to be hungry so I stopped. I needed a break for lunch, changing my socks and checking my phone/social media. I had packed a lunch in the morning so I enjoyed that and then went back on the path.
Just past Bray lock, there was a movie set on the other side of the River, just before Monkey Island. The guidebook indicates that it’s actually originally referring to monks, rather than monkeys.
I arrived in Maidenhead, and noticed some really impressive mansions and nice boats from the far bank for the last two miles as I approached Maidenhead. On my right, I saw an interesting modern house was flying an Olympic flag.
I passed under the Maidenhead railway bridge, and at that point, Maidenhead bridge, ahead of me seemed so small compared to the railway bridge. The railway bridge was designed by civil engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, whose work I am familiar with due to the Swindon Railway Works, the Bristol heritage but also the Brunel museum I came across on the first day on this walk in London.
So after I’ve crossed the Maidenhead bridge, I walked along the promenade, now on the South bank of the Thames. I stopped at the Riverside Gardens at the Jenner’s Café. They were about to close but they served me coffee and let me use the facilities.
I walked through Cock Marsh, just before crossing the Bourne End Railway footbridge and I saw some cows roaming the open fields. At that point, so close to sunset, I realised that I was going to finish my walk in the dark.
The sunset on Bourne End Marina was cloudier than the sunset on the previous day, and although not as spectacular, I still enjoyed the beautiful colours and views. It was starting to get a bit cold.
I saw flocks of birds as I walked past Gibraltar Island, the waxing moon was visible above, an to my right was the railway which I’ll use later on, on my way home. The next few miles felt like through a series of fields between the railway and the Thames, with a kissing gate in between the fields and the railway on one side and the Thames with trees and bushes on the other.
I entered Marlow via a lovely little landscaped park called Pergola Field. I got diverted inside Marlow away from the Thames side for a bit. Then I reached the wonderful Marlow suspension Bridge.
From there, I headed to the station. The station had no building, just the platform. I headed to Bourne End, Maidenhead and Reading. Grabbed dinner at Reading Station and got my last train home.
At that point I hadn’t planned the next part of the walk but I was getting a sense of addiction to the outdoors and to the Thames then, that made me want to start planning my next sections while onboard the train on the way home.