‘Fortvna vobis adsit’ is the Latin inscription on the pavilion at the start of the walk of Hadrian’s Wall in Bowness-on-Solway. It means ‘Good luck to you!’. I will need this, but I also need to plan 🙂
I’ve not posted in a while but, amongst other things, I’ve been busy planning!
Back on 8th January, I mentioned I wanted to do a long walk so I’ve decided to walk Hadrian’s Wall.
Since, I got covid and had plenty of time to read and watch documentary about Roman History at the time and read a couple of guide books, watched a YouTube route from other walkers and also joined the Long Distance Walkers Association (LDWA). I also joined a couple of hiking Facebook groups and Hadrian Wall’s Path group.
I have now started booking campsites (and hotels for Carlisle and Newcastle) for my way across Hadrian’s Wall! I have even plotted places to stop for snacks along the way…It’s all becoming real. That’s planned for late May /early June.
It’s a National Trails’ hiking path running 84 miles from Bowness-on-Solway to Wallsend. It follows the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Hadrian’s Wall. It was a border of the Roman Empire, built in AD 122 by Emperor Hadrian to keep the people of northern Britannia away.
I’m planning to walk the Wall over 7 days, from West to East, to avoid walking into the prevailing winds. I will travel to the start by train then bus, and back home from Newcastel by train.
So, I’ll be solo-backpacking. I’m preparing the lightest possible (within reason) backpack and I’ve been studying the weight of all my items (literally obsessive about it!). Today I’ll be packing all my items in a bag for the first time, weighing and working out what to keep/lose. I also need to practice putting up and taking down my tent which I’ll be doing today too, but indoors without pegs at first as it’s easier than having to mow our lawn for it etc… I have my route ready and my accommodation planned now. I haven’t booked transport yet but priced it all up.
I’ll also be doing an overnight practice in Savernake Forest and hopefully another one in the Brecon Beacons before that – I’ll post on here on how those experiments go, of course. The aim is just to practice the solo walking/camping. It’s all very exciting! And a nice distraction to life’s stresses.
After that, if all goes (relatively) well, I’m hoping to move on to another National Trail adventure in August (watch this space!)
Day 0 – travel to start Day 1 – Bowness-on-Solway to Carlisle (around 14 miles) Day 2 – Carlisle to Lanercost (around 16 miles) Day 3 – Lanercost to Steel Rigg (around 12 miles) Day 4 – Steel Rigg to St Oswald’s (around 14 miles) Day 5 – St Oswald’s to Heddon-on-the-Wall (around 13 miles) Day 6 – Heddon-on-the-Wall to Newcastle (around 12 miles) Day 7 – Newcastle to South Fields or Tynemouth (around 12 miles), then travel home
Total cost for accommodation and travel should add up to about £310. I think that’s pretty good. Accommodation for 7 days is £135.50! I’m happy with that.
I’m going to lend this backpack and some of the items to my daughter for her DofE expedition and practice expedition in the next couple of months, but here’s the content and approximate weight.
Total about 15kg backpack and 1kg waist belt.
Excuse the ‘Sunday’ attire – wool jumper and tracksuit bottoms, and any mess in the background. It’s my very first time fitting everything in and wearing the full bag so I guess it’ll need some small changes and adjustments but it’s a good start.
weight in g
OEX Vallo 70
OEX bobcat tent
Bergaus Peak pro airmat
Vango Ultralite Pro 100 sleeping bag
zip drybag for PJs
thermal top and leggings for sleep
recycled large trek towel (Lifeventure)
toilet kit (bag+ trowel + toilet tissue)
top of bag
spare clothes in dry bag
spare sock *2 in dry bag
spare sock *2 in dry bag
spare sock *2 in dry bag
underwear in dry bag
bin bags (for tent)
top of bag
OEX tocan solo stove, gas canister and spork
top of bag
Swiss army knife
top of bag
washbag including wipes, travel soap spray, heatpag, hairbands, vaseline, tootpaste, toothbrush and comb/brush
first aid kit including bandage, safety pins, desindectant wipes, compeed, plaster, ibuprofen, safety blanket and instant icepack, tick remover
4 meals food pouches in bag and two pegs for bags
OS map and compass
front of bag
water bladder (filled)
solar travel pack
headtorch inc batteries
top of bag
side of bag
weight in g
Hadrian’s wall book + pen
watch cable and phone cable
ID, cash and card
total in bag
This is the tent I picked for myself. First time (kind of) erected today. It didn’t take long but I really struggled putting the pole in the eyelets (and then out again). I’m worried of damaging the pole or tent… I couldn’t pitch it indoors properly without the pegs so I’ll try again on a dry day when the garden isn’t full of branches (Rod has cut off loads of branches from one of our trees today!). I plan to practice this a few times, taking it down, and back up until it gets faster and easier.
I need to practice the tent skills, book an overnight for April and go with the full bag. And just get those practice miles in, really!
Any advice (and encouragement) is welcome. I’m going to need it!
The scenery was so beautiful, almost a winter wonderland at times.
The route was good. We used this All Trails route but we did it backwards which I was glad about as it would have otherwise started along the main road. It was nice to start the walk on the Ridgeway.
The All Trails red route isn’t easy to follow as it’s not on the actual paths so if you decide to do this walk, follow the closest (marked as a dashed line) path to the red line.
It took us 2h40 to walk the 11.5km, a little faster than the average time published on All Trails. That’s also a little longer than the All Trails map but only because we kept walking at one poi t while chatting and drinking coffee from Andrea’s flask. It wasn’t hard to get back on track and in terms of elevation the hardest part was the hill back towards the road in the last 30 minutes. So no massive challenge.
I started the walk around 08:00 from the Bridge in Cricklade, where I last stopped.
This last leg of the Thames Path has been much delayed so my rushed decision to get on the path today was definitely a very good one. A what a beautiful day for it!
I decided to return to using the DSLR camera for this last section, rather than using my phone for camera.
Shortly after I started walking, I managed to get lost following the path in Cricklade but soon re-joined it.
I met many people on the way and had some really lovely chats. The first couple I met was walking their dog, between Cricklade and Latton. From early on it was a warm day and I took my zipped long sleeve top off and was in my t-shirt for the rest of the day.
As I left Cricklade, you could hear the murmur of the A419 cars, the backdrop of planes in the sky but thankfully, also, the birdsongs closer to the ear which made the walk so pleasant.
By the lakes, I saw some people doing water-skiing and all along the walk, I met dog walkers. Just past Ashton Keynes, I saw Colin, who I hasn’t seen in ages. That was lovely.
Overall, my progress was slow due to taking pictures and chatting with people but I made the most of the beautiful day, and saw much wildlife, both flora and fauna, especially around the lakes, as I crossed the Cotswold Water Park. So many buttercups fields!
It felt quite sad to see so many trees cut down on the Thames side – especially by the fields that are trempled by cows already – there is a slight feeling of destruction and emptiness, in contrast with the lush fields, flowers and diversity in other neighbouring fields.
The paths got busier around the water part and Neigh Bridge Country Park.
It’s been such a contrast to my earlier cold, lonely winter walks!
If you read my earlier posts, you may remember a near-miss incident with cows in a field… so I had a little stress when I saw these cows waiting at the end of a field… so I took to the left side to follow the field away from them.
Then a family arrived, from the opposite direction, and opened the gates. ALL the cows started to run and charge towards me! I was petrified. But I stayed as calm as possible. The family looked at me but none of them asked how I was. They just stared! I can’t describe how brainless one would be to do what they did. The other issue was that the farmer who had their cows in one field will have to find their cows. I was ok but I wasn’t happy.
Getting to the Source
I carried on until Ewen; there the Thames stared to get drier. I had my sandwich on a seat with a ‘Millenium seat’ plate on.
It was quite a sight to see the Thames’ bed empty after Ewen. Quite sad in fact. But I guess it’s the time of the year where this area is dry?
Here’s a shot from ‘within’ the Thames river bed, upstream and downstream.
Then it was a few more miles until I finally reached the Source. It is marked by a stone and a signpost. I chatted with a few more people there.
Then I made my way, across the trainline, to the local pub: the Thames Head Inn, to celebrate the end of the walk.
I am just having a glass of Champagne this evening, while writing this post to celebrate, too.
22km in about 6hours.
It took me a little longer than hoped due to detours, but, I DID IT! I completed the walk: the whole of the Thames Path from Barrier to Source.
STATS: I walked a total of 204 miles (326 km) and spent £830 in travel and accommodation costs in total over the 14 sections. I have a spreadsheet with all the details if anyone is interested.
Planning a mad 3-day walk in a fortnight, again… watch this space 🙂
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!
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.
The weather was grey and a little fresh but it was dry and remained so, which was just right for a ‘shorter’ day’s walk. I planned to cover 8.5 miles for the day and walked 8.97 so that was the most accurate estimate so far in 6 days of walking.
I stopped at Burgers tea room for a morning snack and coffee. It’s a bakery. The history is that it’s been taken over by a Swiss Burger family in 1942 and produce 32 kinds of chocolate. The tea room is lovely. It was easy to get a table without booking although it seemed quite popular from the outside. The staff was lovely too and the coffee reasonably priced.
Just before I started the walk by the Marlow suspension bridge where I stopped last time, I walk past Higginson Park, a beautiful park with a lovely autumn feel.
I passed Bisham church on the other bank, which had great reflections on the Thames.
There was also a goose perched on a tree, calling; I don’t know much about birds but I don’t often see geese perched on trees. I’ve seen them on the ground and I know that they normally nest quite low and I see them flying. However this one was on its own and calling constantly.
The ground got muddier as I got around Temple Mill Island, but it was still very passable. I was only wearing trail trainers rather than walking shoes and I’ve not had any issues with mud today.
I went across over the Temple bridge towards Hurley and then across again at the next bridge.
The muddy path didn’t last very lonng at all.
There were a lot of leaves on the ground which is beautiful at this time of the year, but you do have to watch your footing because you can’t see any lumps in the ground and tree roots,etc.
Shortly after Hurley Lock, I met a lovely couple who were walking the Thames Path downstream. They were doing it non stop. Nicely encouraging
On the other side of the lock, just before the other footbridge to cross back towards Hurley, therewas a water point which may be useful to some of you doing the Thames Path,￼ especially if you’re doing it in a summer for example,
I saw a herd of white deer and a pheasant!
I’ve never seen white deer before so it took me a minute to work out what animals were in front of my eyes!
I then got stuck in a field full of sheep. There was a gate at the end of the field, but that has a lock on and some barbed wire behind. Obviously, even if I did try to go over the gate, I’d be in another private property. So I followed the edge of the field, all the way back, then headed towards Aston.
Being away from the Thamesside as I progressed towards Aston it feels a little bit more of a drag.
There I went past something that looks like a giant stone Jenga.
And a useless gate with no fencing attached.
The colours of the trees were totally beautiful, in the tones of yellow and orange and reds, juxtaposed with some green, and the grass and the brown branches from the leafless trees . It was beautiful.
In Aston I walked on a tarmac road towards back towards the Thames and I saw a field with a number of birds including ducks, gees, pheasants and small chickens and other birds.
I saw a lot of red kites, circling and calling each other with the very distinctive sound of red kites.
After about six miles, my shoulders were starting to ache. I may need to get a new rucksack.
I just carried on, going past Hambleden Lock and a Marina. I was impressed by the power of the water at Hembeley Lock.
I think went on to Remenham.
As I left Henley business on the North side of the Thames behind me, the path turned back South, towards Henle-on-Thames.
At that point, I started to catch my first glimpse of Henley-on-Thames, lying South, with its tower.
I arrived in Henley in just under 4h from Marlow.
I was hoping to get a sunset photo but the cloud coverage was too dense.
I ended my day with a real lovely dinner at ‘the Bistro at the Boathouse’.