I started back at St John’s Lock, by the Trout Inn, in Lechlade, with the sun shining this time, rather than in the dark. I was just one bridge away from Halfpenny bridge in Lechlade which should have been my finish yesterday. Today’s destination was Cricklade.. The gusts of wind were very strong but I wanted to make as much progress as possible before the stormy weather forecast for after 13:00 in the afternoon.
I’ve been looking forward to this part of the walk: practically on ‘home turf’ now.
Before 10am I walked up to the Roundhouse footbridge. It was sunny, but quite windy which made it much harder to progress especially as it was a headwind. I only did two kilometres in 45 minutes, but it was much better than yesterday, and it wasn’t raining.
The wind kept getting worse. At this point I checked the weather forecast app on my phone. I’d checked in the morning and saw it’s be cloudy and no rain until 15:00 but what I had failed to check was wind! the wind was blowing up to 45mph: no wonder I could barely stand, never mind walk, in places! It had now got very cloudy with an occasional drizzle.
I stopped to have my sandwich and got the raincover on my backpack before Hannington Wick, There the Thames path was diverted away from the Thames which wasn’t much fun, especially when the ground was so muddy. I saw a couple walking in the other direction. They came from Cricklade and they said they had seen no one else and be on the path so far today. At that point, I knew the rest of the walk would be very lonely.
Castle Eaton was nice but, just my luck again, the Red Lion pub was closed so no lunch and no break away from the wind, for me!
The Thames path got back to the bank of the Thames again for a bit. The wind was really really strong and I had nowhere to stop but I was really hungry and thirsty, and I started to get headache. After a while I stopped in a field. I just sat there with the gale force wind in my face, eating crisps and drinking water. After that, it took me a little while to start again, because I was getting really tired.
I found the Thames path completely flooded at this point, so I had to try and work my way around rather than turning back and giving up. I did go through quite a lot of high water. Thankfully, my shoes are still fairly waterproof and then re-joined the banks of the Thames and carried on.
From then on, I went through many other flooded areas of the path. At one point I went over the barbed-wire next to a gate and later literally climbed over a gate and jumped the best I could to not have to completely submerge my shoes.
I finished a challenging 11.78 miles (which is just over 56 miles or just over two marathons in four days). But I’ve just had a lovely cuppa at my friend Claire’s, in Cricklade which made it all worthwhile.
The next and last section of the path (12.5 miles) is planned for the end of the month, but the last part of today’s walk was so challenging with mud and the Thames bursting out in places, that I now doubt I will be able to do it this month.
Beautiful pink and red skies greeted me as I left Swindon on the bus this morning. Transport was a little stressful as I was quite close in connecting buses in Swindon but managed to get onboard. Then the bus towards Oxford was over 20 minutes late and I was close to miss that last connection but made it so that all turned out to be a good start.
Today was the first day in all 12 days so far on the walk when I had no idea where and what sort of time I might finish. The original plan was to walk to Lechlade but as I was so tired yesterday, I gave myself an option to end at Radcot and either walk 40min or take a taxi to the closest bus stop.
It felt colder today and the wind and rain were already pretty awful when I left Newbridge , so I decided I needed to keep my head down and enjoy the views as much as I could, when I could.
I did take a smaller lighter backpack today , and I already had my rainproof trousers on from the start.
Since I left Newbridge, it was windy and rainy. Then I went through some woods that were practically impassable, having to walk through huge amounts of mud; I made myself some poles out of wood and basically sort of ice skated through the mud. It was pretty horrendous. It took me 45 minutes to do the first mile of the walk! Then as I left the woods, I was exposed again to the elements. I just put my head on and took a step at a time. What was nice was to see a lot of birds.
In the whole 30km today I’ve only see one person on the Path, all day. There were people at places where I stopped but no walkers at all. It is a very lonely and removed part of the walk, not helped in my case by the bad weather.
When I thought things were bad… I accidently then got my ring finger whacked between the wooden post and a metal gate! What an idiot! Suddenly it took my mind off the weather and any other struggles!
I managed to go wrong along the water at a footbridge before Chimney Meadow, as I failed to cross the footbridge. You can probably see that on the Strave map as a bleep 🙂 The riverside was treacherous so I had to be super careful. The waters were high as you can see in the photos so I went very very slow again.
The rain hadn’t stopped in hours. I found a bird observatory and stayed there for a bit of respite from the rain and wind, for about 15 minutes.
I eventually reached the Trout at Tadpole Bridge. I was hoping to dry a little bit get a restful 30 minutes, but it was closed! I stopped under a platform/shelter in the pub garden there for a few minute. I had a snack but I was getting cold. Everything was really really wet; my backpack was wet and even my waterproof gloves were wet. I wished for a little bit of a break in weather for five minutes…and when I set off again at about 14:00, the rain stopped!
Past Rushey Lock and Weir, I saw cows in the field and I walk past them fairly close but quite peacefully. I was brought up on a farm and never have had issues with cows. Then, as I went to exit the field, I took a bit of a wrong turn while struggling my way through the muddy field and carried on too far past the gate. At that point, I stopped to check my map and I heard a noise…I lifted my head an I saw them, all of them, running towards me. I hurried through the mud towards the gate to the corner of the field, closed the gate securely and then took a video (below) of them coming towards me. They obviously wanted food, but it was a little bit tense!
I arrived in Radcot around 16:00 and was offered a cuppa tea by one of the locals in the pub who were there and chatting with me about the walk. I dried my coat a little bit in front of the fire, put my gloves and hat on the radiator; I did change my socks, so I got fresh socks for a fresh start. My snood got dry so that was nice. I decided to carry on.
The sun set around 17:20. I walked in the dusk after Kelmscott Manor. There was a memorable moment when I heard a lot of crows: hundreds, I’d say, in the trees near Kelmscott Manor. It was very impressive. As I came closer, just at once, as if I’d dreamt it, the cacophony stopped abruptly. Not a single kraa to be heard!
The wind had died down, it was getting very dark and the river is very quiet there. I kept walking.
I arrived near Lechlade at St John’s lock in the dark, after 9h30 of walking.
That always a bonkers day of walking by my standards: somewhere between a nightmare, an adventure and a pilgrimage! I managed to make it to Lechlade after 1h30 in the dark. I was very glad I decided to press on after Radcot!
It’s been a difficult start of the day as I realised my top backpack pocket was open on the bus. My key was hanging out (luckily it’s strapped in with a hook) and my wallet was missing! I’d not slept well and with accumulated fatigue for days, it was starting to have an impact. I was very annoyed and getting upset. I stopped at the next possible stop and ran back to my bus stop. The wallet wasn’t there. And walked back home where I found it. What a panic. At that point I know I’d missed my train and I wouldn’t start on time (by 07:15) so I had to re-plan.
I headed for the next possible bus and train. And rescheduled my day, then making it very difficult to plan a lunch break. It also meant later finish and likely missing dinner time (it’s Valentine’s Day!).
Leaving Oxford, I could see allotments the other side of the Thames. It was paved yesterday until Osney bridge but this side of the bridge it is a track. There were clear skies apart from some clouds. It was quite cool to start with.
After a while I could feel the sun behind me streaming light and tiny bit of heat through the trees. It was a much nicer day to walk than yesterday with lovely colours, warm light and nice shadows, as well as lovely bird songs.
Just by Fiddler’s Island, I saw a woman in a bikini who was going for a swim without a wetsuit – that was very brave. It was only six degrees and a little bit windy out there.
The path was clearly signed which is lovely.
I then saw more people who were swimming!
Just before that I was playing puddles-slalom as there were a lot of puddles from yesterday’s rain mainly I guess. I saw quite a lot of people going past, walking and on their bikes probably going to work in school.
It was just really nice to see some geese landing in sync on the Thames, making a lot of noise and splashing.
I went past Godstow abbey, before crossing under the A34.
After I crossed under the A34 the Thameside felt much quieter.
The paths became very muddy again after some time, quite slippery. Then it’s started raining.
I had to walk through flowing water as I couldn’t balance on muddy piece of wood alongside the Thames and couldn’t risk falling. So I went through the water as safely as I could, and then just after that I crossed another muddy of water, more standing water to that time so that part is almost not passable now.
I spent a few minutes getting my rainproof trousers on, gloves and hat under the Swindord bridge.
At exactly 11am, after crossing the under the footbridge, the heavens opened.
Diversions from the side of the Thames are never very pleasant when they go past roads. And this one was no different but the good thing about it is I was behind the trees away from the wind and rain for a few minutes.
The river coming off the Thames looked like a chemical pollution as I cross pink Hill lock. The rain had mostly stopped.
The rain stopped. When I approached Bablock Hythe, I walked through muddy fields and a group of people on horses went past.
I had lunch at the Ferryman Inn in Bablock Hythe. After that my pace really slowed down.
My feet were very tired but I made it to the Rose Revived, in Newbridge, waited a couple of hours for my bus(es) home to get there in time for Valentine’s dinner. 15.78 miles (25.40 km) in just under 7h30.
After a 10-week break due to high covid cases and risk, I came back on Abingdon bridge to carry on with the Thames Path walk. The plan is to reach Oxford today and Cricklade by Wednesday evening but the weather forecast is looking awful today and it’s going to be a challenge avoiding floods and muddy paths at this time of the year. But I’m looking forward to the journey: I’ve been missing being out on the trails.
To start with, as I left Abingdon, passing geese, swans and ducks; the path was quite muddy.
I crossed over the weir which was such a nice feeling and a great way to start the walk- to be over the water again. The path initially was a little away with from the Thames. With the Thames on my right, my first aim for the day was to reach Sandford lock which was around 4.5 miles away. The weather stayed dried at first but it wasn’t forecast to stay dry all day so I knew I would have some rain on the way but I was prepared and still very much looking forward to the walk.
This was a interesting route today because The Thames seemed to be taking us East to take us West and it’s a bit of a loop. So I will use the terms ‘on my right’ and ‘on my left’ rather than my usual North bank and South bank because theoretically, I would now be on the North bank but when I get to Oxford (without crossing the river), that will end up being the South bank and it could be quite confusing. Well it is to me anyway!
After much mud, a decked path meant my boots got a rest from the wet mud. I past what looked like a new Thames Path sign. At that point, I was away from the Thames, with some woods to my right, and the Thames beyond the woods.
It was nice to hear the sounds of the Thames again. Even though it was quite windy, and that’s one of the main sounds that can hear in the background, I can hear a lot of birds and I can hear the water from the Thames a little bit as well (even though it’s behind the woods), which is lovely.
After a while, I joined the side of the Thames which was lovely but also meant that I was more exposed to the elements: wind and a little bit of drizzle but no heavy rain yet.
It was nice to see on my left some young trees, fairly recently planted.
The path was quite muddy, but not impassable. I was really glad to have my winter hiking shoes. My my hands were cold inside my gloves and got a little warmed up as I upped my pace a bit. I felt well equipped and kept warm all along the wall. I had my snood on my chin to keep a little bit warm from my neck and upper-chest.
After about 45 minutes on the path, I didn’t see anyone apart from some dog walkers in Abingdon before the weir. It’s been absolutely quiet, if a little lonely, no walkers, no runners and cyclists. Nothing but interesting footprints in the mud, the woods, some birds and the river. It was a cold winter Sunday morning, so I expect people stayed in the warmth.
I spent about 10 minutes under the railway bridge to get changed, so I could add my rain cover trousers which I was trying for the first time (lend to me because I couldn’t fit in my original ones!). The rain was not really heavy then but more constant, and I knew it was only going to get worse.
It started to rain heavier and the wind was quite strong. There were waves on the Thames because of the wind.
I saw a few rowers who were very brave going through the waves and I also saw three cross-country runners now who were saying they had chosen to run the wrong way. By this they meant against the wind. I had mostly the wind behind me or slightly on the side.
I couldn’t find anywhere adequate or dry place for lunch after that.
I got myself a companion, which was a stick! Very useful as a walking pole as it was just the right height. Is got me through the mud, keeping stability with three point of contact.
I reached Sandford lock at about 12pm. There was nowhere to stop for lunch. There was a pub on the other side of the river. But it meant crossing and then ordering something and my aim was to just have a sandwich and keep going. Another day, I’ll come back for a walk and try the pub. It is called the King’s Arms.
I spent five minutes talking to a lady while we were standing in the rain. After a railway bridge the path was tarmac so I left my trusty companion, the stick, on a side by a tree. Hopefully someone else can use it.
The sounds changed. Although I was approaching Iffley lock, and you could hear the sound of the water pushing through in the lock, the predominant sound was now cars in the background : I had just crossed under the A423 bypass by Oxford. It’s a little bit sad you can barely hear any birds, etc. even though you’re still near nature.
There were a lot more rowers and rowing clubs and boathouses as I walked towards Donnington. One other thing that shocked me as well was the sheer amount of pollution waste on the side: food and drinks packaging left, despite the bins from Oxford Council being there, but also waste from what looks like seats and mattresses and carpets, probably for the boats moored there, and all types of rubbish.
I finished in about 4h35. I was absolutely soaked but felt warm all the way thanks to having the right gear for the rain. That’s 9.99 miles /16.08 km covered. I took my rain over-trousers off and ate my sandwich before I took the train(s) back home.
I was lucky enough to be invited by my friend Andrea to join her for a walk, today. Joanna, another friend, joined her too so we went along, the three of us, on a circular walk from Bibury to Coln-St-Aldwyns and back to Bibury.
Apart from being very muddy, we were blessed with a beautiful sunny morning. The temperature was around 8 degrees Celsius but feeling nice and actually warm when in the sun.
After weeks of staying in a lot (I realise I haven’t posted on here for over a month), it’s been so good to walk and talk (my two favourite things).
I took a few photos on the way. I loved that we were by the river so much. Some of the climbs were a bit challenging but I’d done part of this route (clockwise) in the summer so I knew what to expect. I love that we saw a couple of red kites and also a few snow drops. It almost felt like spring for a while.
When we got to the river crossing at the bottom of hill in Coln St Aldwyns, we missed a turn and went too far for about 100 metres. We quickly realised that we seemed to be in someone’s driveway and turned round. There, a lovely lady opened her window and offered us some chocolates as she explained they were trying to give up chocolate. She gave us the box! How slightly random but amazingly kind is that?!? It turned out they were my favourite kind too. As we walked around the church in Coln, we did offer some of the chocolate to other walkers, sharing on.
We stopped at the Coln Café, at the community stores and managed to order some hot drinks just before the café closed. It’s such a lovely and friendly place. A lot of cyclists stop there too. We sat in the garden there for a few minutes, drinking our coffee and teas. I used the café’s toilet (the public toilet in Bibury were all out of order: all four of them!) and we when back down the hill and back along the river to Bibury.
We planned to go on another walk very soon as we all really enjoyed!
As I posted earlier, I couldn’t be on the Thames Path this weekend, so yesterday, I went to walk on the Ridgeway, locally from me, away from everything and as an opportunity to remember Judith.
Judith is my friend Richard’s wife. I first met Judith when they both came to see me at the finish line of a triathlon I did where they lived, years ago. Then I met Judith and part of the family again when Richard cycled a Sportive with me in 2013. She absolutely loved walking and is a great inspiration to me. She walked on the Ridgeway many times, including taking groups of students for the Duke of Edinburgh award. She passed away a year ago today. I thought of her on this walk.
So here are some sights from Barbury Castle yesterday morning and the White Horse trail, between fog and sun. I spotted a fog bow (white rainbow) over the Ridgeway. I didn’t know they were a thing until I saw one yesterday! It was a little surreal and very cool!
I cut the route short as poor Missy (now our dog – you may remember us taking her on the Waterfalls walk in Wales) was freezing and wet. I don’t think it was fair on her to try another 6 miles with her feeling cold.
That was just over 11 miles (18 km) in just under 5 hours’ walk. After that I went back in the warmth at home and sat with a cuppa coffee and some bara brith, which I baked on Saturday (if you haven’t had bara brith yet, I recommend trying – it’s a welsh fruit bread ).
I should be walking on the Thames path today… from Newbridge to Lechlade. But I’m home, working, writing this blog on my lunch break from work. 5 days ago there were announcements of very high Covid cases in the UK and a new variant.
So I decided to cancel the last 5 days of my Thames Path walk, for now. With cases on the rise, having to take public transport to the start, two nights in hotels and Christmas approaching, it felt like an unnecessary risk for our family and the families of those who wanted to join me for part of the way. It’s so frustrating. I was so close to finishing the trail but I can’t take the risk.
If it’d been local not requiring public transports, hotels and eating out, I’d have gone.
It’s all a bit sad but it’s the cost of keeping safe I guess. When this is all over I can hopefully enjoy finishing the walk. The Thames Path will be there long after this pandemic!
So no more Thames Path updates here for a while. I can’t even fix a date to re-schedule it as I have no idea what other measures and for how long this is likely to last.
My journey started with an early drive to Didcot before dawn on Sunday morning. There, I parked by Sophie’s house (who joined me on the last leg) by which time it was just getting light. I walked to the station to catch the bus. The 33 Connector runs from Didcot Parkway to Wallingford. But Google maps got me to walk a weird way in the opposite direction from the station. I realised as the bus was due to arrive…and there it was heading towards the station as I frantically ran all the way there. Luckily it was running late and I got in, got a ticket and took my hat and gloves off, and caught my breath. By Station Road further in Didcot, the bus driver had an altercation with people, asking a van to move out the way and a lady in a Christmas hat came shouting at him at the window. He proceeded to get out the bus again and gave a phone call. Then we went back on our way. At that point I was a little worried of timings. I felt it was then likely I would finish these 14 miles in the dark, perhaps for the last hour. I did bring a headtorch and a reflective vest so it was a risk I’d prepared for. I hadn’t anticipated it would be because of the bus however! (but that never happened as I finished before sunset)
It was very cold all day.
I started from Wallingford bridge and walked on the south bank of the Thames, past Wallingford Castle meadows, which is a lovely kind of nature reserve. From there, looking back at Wallingford allows you to see St. Peter’s church spire, which is quite a pretty sight.
It was quite windy which made a cold day feel sharply cold. I was wearing woolly gloves, a hat and my winter hiking shoes. I am glad I swapped from my trail running shoes to the warmth and comfort of these winter shoes because the start of the walk from Wallingford was muddy and wet on the ground. Even though, a bit further, as I approached Benson, there were some dry patches, the mud then proved a bit of a regular theme through the day.
It was so nice to be back there by the Thames, especially when I started to hear the sounds of the water by Benson’s lock, now becoming a familiar and reassuring feeling: it’s a nice place to come back to every fortnight.
At Benson lock, there is a little bridge to go over to the lock, and then another bridge crossing to the middle island with a beautiful little lock house from the early 20th century. From then I was on the North bank of the Thames.
By Benson Marina, in the waterfront park where there’s a small swimming pool which is the moment empty because of winter weather and probably COVID. Through the trees, there, on the other side of the road, we can see just about the Benson church. Then I went past a Waterfront Café which looked lovely but was closed so I’ll come back there another day.
The Thames past is diverted away from the riverside at Shillingford bridge.
The walk along the road in Shillingford was horrible. It’s not very nice. I was glad to get back to the Thames. There I had my sandwich in a bus stop, feeling sorry for myself having failed to bring my phone charger pack (which I usually always take with me). It was cold and pretty grim!
After Shillingford, I noticed my phone’s battery power (which I also use as my camera) had halved since it was fully charged at 08:00. The brightness on my phone was too high. As a result I decided to turn off a lot of function on the phone and switch it to airplane mode to save battery.
Sadly, I went past Dorchester-on-Thames and could just about see its church but I couldn’t stop and visit without making myself late and risking walking in the dark. It’s meant to be a lovely Roman town and I hope to return and visit some day soon.
I went past a few fields with sheep. I was hoping for less windy and cold as I crossed back over to the South bank just after Dorcherster-on-Thames but I just walked totally straight in headwind for much of the rest of the day.
Day’s Lock was nice and I saw a handful of people around there, a contrast to the relatively lonely morning of walking so far. I thought I was going to cross on the first bridge (very shiny!) but I ended up crossing over the weir. Crossing the Thames on a weir doesn’t fail to be entertaining and exciting. There is something special, maybe some kind of adrenaline rush, to find yourself over a thin bridge, looking down at the strong water flow under your feet and hearing the rush of the river. I don’t get tired of it.
The cold was making my face very cold and it started to rain; the rain was freezing so I wore my fabric face mask which I keep in my pocket to get in shops and cafés… it was helpful and I then decided I should get a buff for my next walk!
From there, I walked towards Clifton Hampden. I kept seeing the two remaining cooling towers from Didcot (I got to see the big towers being taken down a few years back): it felt like I was on the perimeter of a circle around Didcot, keeping them mostly on my left. I saw much wildlife on the way today. A lot of red kites, a few flocks of geese, and about 5 herons but they were very elusive so difficult to photograph with my frozen hands.
Today I had the lovely company of Sophie and of Libby the dog for our 11 miles walk to Wallingford. The sun was shiny on this cold Sunday morning bringing so much shine to the lovely November colours in the trees.
We started the walk on Whitchurch bridge, leaving Pangbourne behind us.
At Whitchurch, we didn’t follow the Thames as the Thames Path takes it’s longer diversion off the Thames side. Instead we were taken uphill in beautiful woods with lovely colours around us.
It was lovely to walk with company and we kept a very good pace. The sunny morning made it easier too. Opposite the Grotto (in the other bank) and as we started to encounter more dog walkers, we realised that we were already approaching Goring.
In Goring took a right by the bridge and stopped for coffee and food at the Pierreponts Café. Not only it was a dog-friendly café but the food was yummy and filling and the décor lovely. We crossed the bridge and took a right in Streatley following the Thames Path signs. It reminded me of the few times I took a train to Goring and, walking that way, headed straight up the hill (instead to taking today’s right turn) towards the Ridgeway and walked home via the Ridgeway.
We had a little peek inside St Mary’s church in Streatley. A blue plaque showed Lewis Carroll preached there.
The path took us back to the riverside where we walked through the autumn leaves.
Shortly after the lock and weird, we saw a blue kingfisher (Sophie spotted it) on the other bank in a tree, but I wasn’t quick enough to get my phone out.
As we went past a nature reserve, we saw a rainbow which was a surprise on this sunny morning, then there was a bit of cold drizzle which stopped pretty soon after.
We heard the loud bells from South Stoke church and Sophie spotted a heron perched on tree, catching the sun . It’s not clear in the photo but that’s the best I could get.
Through Moulsford the Thames Path took us away from the river again along the A329 for a little bit. When we rejoined the riverside, we went under a railway bridge and then through Cholsey nature reserve. There were a lot of rowers going past. We sat on a deck for a little break and watched rowing boats going past.
We went under the A4130 and the weather had started the warm up but then turned windy and cold again.
We reached Wallingford and stopped in St Peter’s church for a minute then walked to the Bridge: the end of our walk for today.
We walked 11.85miles (19.07km) in under 4h45, from Pangbourne to Wallingford. We then walked around Wallingford a bit and found a dog-friendly pub (the Cross Keys), played dominos with a cup of tea while we waited for our roast dinners, and then went onto our bus stop for our onward journey. I’m planning to get back to Wallingford in a fortnight, weather permitting, to continue on the Thames Path.
I left my hotel at 07:30, at dawn, but you couldn’t see the sun rise because it was very cloudy and drizzly. Despite the weather forecast, planning for a low chance of rain and grey clouds, it was actually raining. I made my way to Henley bridge to restart my walk today, embarking on the seventh section of my Thames path walk: this would take me from Henley-on-Thames to Pangbourne.
I had crossed yesterday from the Berkshire bank to Oxfordshire when I crossed Henley bridge. Today, this path took my back to Berkshire and West Berkshire.
I passed the Rowing and River Museum, by Mill Marsh Meadows, as I left Henley. Then, just after this, I was fascinated by the long wooden curved footbridge over Marsh Lock and Weir, taking me to the middle of the Thames and back to the North bank. I then looked it up and the reason for this horseshoe footbridge across the weir stream to the lock and back, is that there used to the a mill, used for brass foundry, in the way. On the Berkshire bank there was a flour mill and that is still now known as Mill Bank.
Shortly after this, the rain and drizzle stopped and it just remained cloudy for the rest of the day.
The Thames Path crossed the Chiltern Way as I headed towards Lower Shiplake, then around Shiplake station. I crossed the railway line crossing at which point I realised the Thames Path was signed a little bit differently from where I’d come from. So I must have taken the wrong turn at one point and went through a main road past the houses rather than the footpath along the railway line.
In Shiplake, there was a lovely little corner shop and butcher’s with a couple of stalls outside, just before 9am.
I found a rail bridge which I had to duck to cross under! And I’m short… so that was a first for me; a minute later, a train went past – it was quite impressive. I then crossed a muddy field before rejoining the Thameside, walking along the marsh towards the towing path, opposite Wargrave Manor.
Further along , I went under a railway bridge at Shiplake which took me away from the riverside. The bridge weirdly looked like it was built for two ways but only has one railway side on. I found this both odd and interesting.
Today has been the most mud so far in the walk. There were some really muddy trails around Shiplake up to Shiplake college as well. They were all walkable, and as I said yesterday in the blog I’m only wearing trail running trainers and not proper hiking shoes, so it’s fine. It did make me realise that I may have to plan for switching to my winter waterproof hiking shoes on future stretches.
After crossing Sonning bridge I went over to the Coppa Club for a coffee and brunch, which was nice. It is probably above the price range I would normally have spent, but it was worth fuelling up at that point.
It was an opportunity to use the toilet and change my socks too as my feet had got a little wet in the longer grass and with the light rain earlier.
Restarting after brunch felt quite slow and cold initially but I warmed up after a while, past Sonning Lock.
I was then walking towards Reading along the south bank. I went through Thames Valley Park nature reserve. As the Oracle building was just in sight, there were some people flying remote control aeroplanes. I’ve probably just insulted someone now, because there might be a specific name for that hobby that I’m not aware of; if so, I do apologise.
People were going about their Saturday lunchtime: I saw a lot more dog walkers, joggers and families.
In Reading, I carried on straight when I should have gone over the footpath. So if you’re doing this route: take a left following the National Cycle road 5. As you leave the bridge you’ll see a sign welcoming you to Reading.
The path took me past the back of the Tesco car park. To my right was Coal Woodlands. It made me feel sad to see some of that woodland has got a lot of litter and extremely sad to observe that it might be homeless people staying here.
The path had now very much got no mud but instead was paved throughout.
I reached Reading bridge in just under five hours for 11.9 miles .
I past my (unofficial ) halfway mark for the Thames Path, which was by Caversham bridge. Unfortunately I didn’t find anywhere suitable to buy a pint to celebrate.
I walked out of Reading and Caversham on the Thames promenade and saw a few people walking.
The area after the Thames promenade was a lot more rural than what I expected looking at the map. It was quite pleasant rejoining the countryside.
Overall I was quite pleased. I was happy to have reached over halfway and also looking forward to resting my legs in the evening.
As I leave St. Mary’s island on my right, there are some allotments and gardens on the left but it was still quite rural.
I continued along the railway line (above e on the left) and signposts for the Thames Path take me over Roebuck footbridge over the train line: there were a few steps to climb. At that point, the path took me to Purley along the A329/Oxford Road, which was a really busy road.
A path was on the right after a gate which, although was not by the side of the Thames, at least it was away from the main road. To my right, through the trees I could just about see the railway line and then further down, the Thames.
I crossed over the railway on a bridge and rejoined the Thames side by Mapledurham Lock.
This all route today was nothing like I imagined from the map: I’d thought that coming out of Reading would be very much in housing areas but it’s very much been in the countryside, walking mostly through some meadows, which has been really a pleasant surprise. From the A road up to Mapledurham Lock hadn’t been necessarily pretty in itself; there were even some hills! But being back on the riverside, and hearing the water from the lock was such a nice feeling .
I walked past a small, new, footbridge over what looked like diverted water from the Thames: it was neither on my OS map nor on Google Maps.
As I approached Pangbourne, I could see the white toll bridge ahead. There was a sign for toilets towards the left. I didn’t need to use them because I was about to go check in my hotel but it may be of use for you, if you plan to walk along here.
I arrived on Whitchurch bridge in Pangbourne after a good day’s walk. I covered 18.89 miles (30.40km) in 7h38min.
I had a celebratory ½ pint at the Village bar to celebrate my ½ way through the Thames Path.