Thames path 2 – Day 13 Westminster to Thames Barrier

Another early start for what would be the last official leg of this year’s Thames path walk, although I have plans to venture all the way to the sea sometime before the year is out. The 0601 was running a minute late, it is great that these days you get updates on the station signs for such small delays.

I was on the path by 0700 pretty good time I think. I chose the Southbank because it is more interesting. To start with any how, later on I spent a lot of time having to leave the river’s edge because an apartment block was in the way. It meant I walked a bit further than the map suggested.

I dropped in at Borough market but they were still setting up and not coffee was available. It was not until Greenwich was I able to get a coffee, and a very nice mushroom and halloumi sausage roll at Peyton and Byrne.

I came up with a plan to do some of the north bank, by using the Grenwich foot tunnel, then getting the Dangleway (Emirates Airway) close to the barrier. It meant soing the outside of a large curve, and I found out that the path was not always by the riverside, and spent quite some time walking inland, then back again. Eventually I realised I was at a deadend, with a long walk round, so I got on the DLR at East India and then gor off at Victoria.

When I got off it was clear something was going on there were police everywhere. I stopped and asked one of them what was going on. Apparently there was an Arms exhibition at Excel and there had been deomnstrations earlier in the week. hey were there to keep the peace. I suspect there was facial recognition CCTV about too, a couple of vans with cameras on poles gave the game away.

There was no queue for the Dangleway, and I had a chat with the friendly guy who was ushering people on to the empty gondolas. I had one to myself and made the most of it by taking plenty of video footage in 4K 60fps. Watch this space for the edited video.

It was only a mile or two to the Thames Barrier from the other end of the Dangleway next to the O2 Arena. It did not take long to walk along what is mainly Olympian Way, with lots of riverside apartments. When I got to the barrier a dark cloud came over but the barrier was in the sun, a Thames barge came throigh for a lovely sight worthy of a photo.

I walked through and industrial esate to a main road then got a bus to Woolwih and headed down to the Arsenal. On the way I stopped off at a really friendly cafe and had poached eggs on toast. Down by the river I got a boat all the way back to Embankment which took about 50 minutes.

Back at Euston I had 15 minutes to wait for the 1534 to Tring, and was home at 16:30. The offcial Thames path was done but I plan to return a walk twards Kent and where the sea offically starts, but that will be a story for another day.

Thames Path 2 – Day 12 Hammersmith to Westminster

Busy at work right now and I was baby sitting a data migration over the weekend for a new system. I work up early 0500 so decided to check on progress and get the early train to Euston at 0601. As the data migration only needed an eye on it and the odd nudge I took a WiFi hotspot and tablet with me, so I could use a Citrix client. It is amazing how easy it is to connect to work these days.

Moored barges

The journey to Hammersmith would only take 1:15. I headed straight for the Victoria line and headed south to Green Park then changed to the Piccadilly line to Hammersmith. THe ube was full of people going to work lots of builders, and many asleep. It was a short walk to the river and Hammersmith Bridge. I stuck to the north bank as sun was low in the sky and the light still warm.

The sky was quite blue with plenty of wispy high altitude clouds and some low fluffy cumulous. I had high hopes of capturing some great photos. I was soon passing seom of the University Boat Race landmarks, the Harrods Depositary, and Fulham Football club. At Fulham ground you are forced inland and past the brick work of the end of the stadium. Interestingly all the fan entrances were only one body wide, perhaps to control the flow of fans, you would only fit one person at a time. Finally I got to Putney Bridge which is where the race starts.

Just before Battersea Bridge I heard a helicopter, but could not see it anywhere, then I came across the London Heliport where a copter was getting ready ti take off. It taxied out to the hilpad over the rivers edge, on its wheels. The took off, after a which a smaller hilcopter that had passed by a few minutes earlier descended then hovered over the pad then taxied a few metres off the ground to a parking space, where a member of staff signalled it to the correct position using ping pong bats.

Cranes at Battersea power station construction

I was getting a bit hungry that point so I searched google maps for somewhere to eat, I fancied a late breakfast. Vibes cafe came up as good and it was just on the land edge of Battersea park, a bit of a detour. It was well worth the visit, in a small parade of shops in a non descript building, I had a lavely Avo on toast when crumble goats cheese and a poached egg. Washed down with a black coffee and a sit down it was very welcome.

Next land mark was Battersea power station, which is being redeveloped, I tried to get some pictures of the many white cranes amongst the iconic chimneys. I passed the US embassy and then crossed the river at Vauxhall bridge. It was getting hot in the sun so I popped into Tate Britain and found a sofa in the cool building. I logged into work and pushed a few jobs in the migration on.

Thames side apartement block

I decides to finish at Westminster Bidge as it was getting hot and I had walked far enough. To boot the demonstration against Boris was due at noon on Whitehall. I joined the chanting crowds at the junction with Downing Street, and made my voice heard. I hung around for a while protesting then headed straight back to Euston from Charring Cross tube station.

I got the 13:01 train but it did not go to plan. The train puled forward then stopped, then when it was out of the station it stopped again. Apparently the signals on the slow lane were faulty. Eventually we reversed back then went forward and were pointed to the fast lane. It added a bout 20 minutes to Journey. I expected to do the final leg to the Thames barrier next time. I also had to think about walking a bit further on, but how far?

Thames path 2 – Day 11 Kingston to Hammersmith

Very early start as the day was promising to be hot and I would be walking in London outskirts. The 06:01 from Berkhamsted was on the and whisked me away to Euston. I had decided on a slight change of plan, I had 32 miles left to do and if I kept up the average it would mean two days walking. My new plan was to do it over three days and take in some of the London landmarks along the way. Today would be from Kingston to Barnes. I had considered driving to the London Wetland centre but although the parking was free it did not open till 09:30, and in any case the train would be a similar time.

London heliport

The path is really good on this stretch and fairly urban beyond the green of the parks by the river side. I decided to time my sled for the first hour, to see what speed I could sustain. I managed the fouril s to Richmond Bridge in an hour and four minutes which I was pleased with. My pace was fast bit not flat out. I treated myself to an almond croissant and coffee from a cafe under one of the bridge arches.

My next 4 miles was 01:10 done at a normal somewhat leisurely pace. The path continues past Kew and ???. The bridges are becoming more frequent, as the centre of London gets closer. There were lots of joggers on the path all with those own style of running. I left the path at Hammersmith and got the tube to Westminster my support was needed there.

Thames bridge

The remainers were protesting at against Boris and Brexit, so I thought I would go along and show support. I was a bit early so I headed towards the start of the march and joined in for a bit at Trafalgar Square.

Thames path 2 – Day 10 Staines on Thames to Kingston upon Thames

I was in two minds about walking this Saturday because the weather was predicted to be quite hot but on examination of the detail and he said it wasn’t going to get hot to later on in the afternoon and by that time you will be cloudy and ever after beer cooling breeze. So I headed out by car to Twickenham which would be a pivot point for my public transport journeys full stop first from Twickenham to Staines and then when I walk to Kingston from Kingston back to Twickenham that resulted in the shortest journey.

I left the house 16 and was at Staines station by 8 he was very early said he would many people about 4 though there were four lads asleep on the bank before of the wine and beer clearly had been out all night. The first way point of note was the Penton Hook lock, and very grand it is too, wide and with a white imposing lock keepers house.

Chertsey Lock and bridge followed. The bridge looks quite old, compared the others on this stretch of the Thames. My first stop was for coffee at the Nauticalia shop where a ferry takes you over the river to Weybridge. The coffee and lemon and elder flower cake went down a treat.

The ferry was very short, and I was the only passenger. Although fairly urban you go through a patch of river with no visible houses except for one with its own bridge. I did a timedile for the fun of it and got a time of 17:20, which I was happy with. I rested for 10 minutes at Sunbury lock. I had another 6.5 miles to go for the day.

The next few miles whizzed by, as I tried another times distance, this time at what I thought was a slower pace, but I managed 16:10 minute miles. I don’t trust the Fitbit anymore, time to get a GPS logger me thinks.

At Kingston there was a regatta going on, and I went straight to Hampton Wick station and got the train back to Twickenham, coat a generous £2.20.

Thames Path 2 – Day 9 Maidenhead to Staines on Thames via Windsor

The weather promised to be hot 22 to 23 degrees down by the Thames, however late morning it would become cloudy so I took the opportunity for an early start and parked up at Windsor station early 4707 train to Windsor. From Windsor I took a taxi to Maidenhead and I would drop stuff just one turns.

There was some sort of swimming isn’t going on as I hit the path loads of people in wetsuits and swimsuits walking up the path they clearly finished their swim and were returning home. I passed under the Brunel bridge the widest and lowest brick arches in the world. Later down the path possibly a mile I came across the end of the race where they were packing up the electronic detectors full stop

The sun was shining and it was starting to get quite warm. The river pass is very quiet alien Matthew dog walkers and runners. The path is on the left populated side of the river with quite a few large houses on the far bank.

by the time I got to Windsor the sun was quite high in the sky and it was getting very hot however the cloud with starting to form and I look forward to the time when we had full cloud gallery so it wouldn’t be quite a lot. Windsor you cross the river and get onto the other card where are you then passed around the peninsula of land that Windsor castle is built on. The grass bank on the other side is far more valid than the one where the path goes. Next place of note was Eton knock with its flower beds and grand houses around.

It started to heat up a bit takeaway went through Runnymede, which is where the Magna carta was signed many years ago. I stopped off at pub for a well earned on Tuesday and soda water and sat on a table next to a table of Americans who appeared to be walking the Thames. they left before me that I think at caught up with him and another couple who I had them catching up with and then then overtaking me since Windsor.

I was really glad to get to Maidenhead and it was only a short walk to the railway station. The weather had turned sunny again so it was getting very hot and because I wasn’t wearing my walking boots my feet were more sore than usual. This make of the path was not particularly inspirational that was nice to go through Windsor most of the day was spent underneath the Heathrow flight path which made it very difficult to listen to podcast. now I only have another three legs to go and I’ll have to come up with some other route to walk.

Thames Path 2 – Day 8 Henley-on-Thames to Marlow then Maidenhead

Another early start because the weather promised to be up to 21 by lunchtime. It took time to park up the car at the second car park I tried at Maidenhead station only to then find out the train was delayed by 7 minutes, that still left me with plenty of time to get across platforms at Twyford to catch the train to Henley on Thames.

I set out from Henley station in glorious sunshine at just after 0800. There was lots of activity going on as I walked from the bridge at Henley towards Marlow, they were setting up for the annual Henley royal regatta. The women’s Henley regatta was also in progress as I walk past clearly they have started early because they had quite a lot of races to get through. The race seem to be timed rather than one against another with one boat leaving about once a minute or once every two. Whilst I walked the length of the course there was double scull, single scull and 4 person scull.

As you leave the regatta area the tarmac path runs out and you’re back on grass and it’s not long before you come across Hambledon Lock. The weir just beyond is probably one of the largest I have seen on the Thames it was in full flow due to the rain in the past two weeks it was quite spectacular.

At Aston the thames path head inland on a road then you turn left at the Flowerpot inn and go uphill where there are great views over the thames. As you pass the grounds of Culham court you go through a extensive wildflower meadow which was full of pink vetch type flowers and large daisies.

I made good progress to Hurley lock passing Danesfield House hotel high up on the bank as the Thames turn to the right. Unfortunately the tea shop at Hurley lock did not open till 11 so I carried on walking towards Marlow where I hope to get coffee and a snack. The footbridge across the the river just before Temple Lock which had been closed up until only a few days before definitely had some flex and the repairs they done look like they were coming away already.

Just outside Marlow i came across a fisherman who has caught a very large carp. He was trying to take a selfie using his mobile on a stand I helped him out by taking the photo for him, I also took a few with mine to email on. In Marlow I stopped in Copia Coffee for an americano and scrambled eggs, Asian early lunch. I was 8 miles in so past halfway, but it wasn’t getting any cooler.

After Spade Oak it’s pretty much pasture land for quite away you pass Spade Oak and Bourne end. I managed to get an ice cream at Bourne end. I did the section fairly quickly because just outside Marlow I saw a guy walking fairly fast and slowly over a couple of miles I caught up and overtook him. at Cookham I decided to leave the Thames path and take a slightly longer route through the National Trust Cliveden estate. It looks like there was less road but it turns out that the footpath was pretty close to the road anyway. It did give me an opportunity to have a nice national trust coffee before the final few miles through the cliveden estate and then onto a road into Maidenhead and to my car at the station.

I realised when I finally got to Maidenhead at mile 17.5 that I had not marked the route back to the Railway Station, and annoyingly I had another mile and a half to ge to the car. I grabbed some dinner from a Waitrose. It had been a long day walking from 08:00 to 16:30.

Thames path 2 – Day 7 Pangbourne, Reading and Henley-on-Thames

The weather was looking like rain later in the day so I made the decision to try and get up early 0530 breakfast and was in Henley-on-Thames to catch the train to twyford and pangbourne at 07:23. The train was very quiet I managed to charge my phone on the first one to twyford. Total journey with only 36 minutes which had me on the thames path by 8 a clock, a great start.

The first part of the path out of pangbourne had lots of barges and river cruises parked up and many of their occupants were out walking their dogs in their dressing gown. It wasn’t long before I reach Tilehurst where the path goes in land through a housing estate then back over the railway and down onto the path, just at the point of a welcome to Reading sign.

After about a mile of path with a railway embankment to the right and the river to the left I came across so small marina. An angler got talking to me and asked me to identify the fish he described to me wondering whether it was a salmon or trout. I decided it was probably a trout but I did ask being a fisherman he should be able to identify the fish in the river.

As I approached Reading I noticed quite a few rowing boats about, it turns out the Reading amateur regatta was on. For the next couple of kilometres I had rowing boats passing at race pace or heading back to the start. The finish was near Cavendish bridge in the centre of Reading I stopped there for a coffee from the rowing club.

As I left Reading I passed the Oracle building, on the grass fields by the river some one was flying a model aircraft. I was surprised how quickly I got to Sonning. I decided to treat myself to a pizza in the Coppa Club. It was very noisy with families with small children, however the place was busy which is always a good sign for a restaurant. My pizza was average, but it filled a hole nicely, and the establishment was close to the Thames path.

I tired a bit as I got towards shiplake another walker slowly caught up and overtook. Before he passed I asked if he was walking the Thames he said no he was just on a local walk. I sat for a while in the centre of shiplake near the post office. As you leave Shiplake you go down a footpath which goes past the house which has a large gauge model railway in the garden. You can see a station which is in my mind either Swiss or Austrian mountain station.

Once I hit the river again it was a bit of a sprint to get to the rowing museum at the edge of Henley. When I got to Henley there was a lot more people about people who only managed to get within less than a mile of the town. I dump my stuff at the car in the car park at the railway station, then heading into town where there was supposed to be a food festival on.

The food festival wasn’t up to much just a few stills and to do it was raining and the end of the day so there wasn’t much left and some of them were even closed. I grabbed a coffee from an independent coffee shop then headed back to the car and drove home via the country roads Christmas Common, Watlington and Chinnor.

I was home by 4 so despite a very early start and quite fast walking during the day it still took the whole day to do the 15 and a bit miles.

Thames Path 2 – Day 6 Shillingford to pangbourne

Shilling to Pangbourne about 17 miles. I left the house early again arriving at station at approximately 8:15 there was a train at 8:30 to Didcot. The train was on time and I grabbed a taxis at Didcot station which took me to Shillingford and the kingfisher Arms. Taxi cost for £25 and paid by contactless card. The weather was pretty grey and even raining on the way to Pangbourne. However the BBC weather promised that the sun would start shining at around 12 and before that it would brighten up.

Halfway to Wallingford a dog came bounding towards me and jumped up leaving muddy footprints on my clothes. Some dog owners need to take more control of their dogs. At Wallingford I took a detour into town for coffee and cake and then picked up some sushi at the local Waitrose. The weather continue to be very windy so listening to podcasts was a bit of a challenge.

The path is pretty rural from then on and the weather perked up there were some great landscape pictures with great blue skies and white fluffy clouds. I passed the nature reserve where in a previous year I had made a visit to see the monkey and frog orchids. Just after the nature reserve is about the only significant Hill on the Thames path where the past leaves the river for a while and goes up high on the escarpment. As I hit the hill some raising music came on a podcast I was listening to it encourage me to walk faster up the hill clearly my attempt at starting to run again was paying off as it had improve my fitness slightly.

After the hill you hit the little village of Whitchurch on Thames and it is a very short walk down the road to the toll bridge which links Whitchurch to Pangbourne. In Pangbourne a festival was going on I didn’t stop but grabbed a coffee and then headed straight to the railway station car park to pick up my car. It had been a long day at 17 miles but well worth the effort.

Thames Path 2 – Day 5 Iffley Lock to Shillingford

Day 5 on the Thames path today i would be doing from Iffley lock just outside Oxford to Shillingford. I phoned the kingfisher pub the night before to ask if I could park my car in the car park and a very kindly agreed. I got up at about 06:30 and after some breakfast and some driving I arrived at Shillingford in time to get the 08:28 bus to the edge of Oxford near Iffley Lock. The Kingfisher landlord popped out to say hello and even offered me the use of the pub toilets before I set out. Apparently people often park with asking, so he was quite chuffed that I had taken the effort to ask, and I was very grateful.

I started walking at about 0900, it took only 10 minutes to get to Iffley Lock, but not before a visit to Tesco express to grab a Danish. There were lots of activity going on on the Thames as I headed out of Oxford, rowers and joggers mainly. The path was clear but the edges were quite overgrown with spring plants. The weather looking was good with a blue sky and cumulus clouds, albeit a tad hot when the sun was out. The cuckoos were out in force and I heard three before I stopped for a rest at Radley College boat house, where a group of oldish people were launching preparing their wooden Thames rowing boats for a trip along the river.

The path sticks to the right hand side of the river in the direction of flow until a I was just outside Abingdon, where you cross the river. There were quite a few people around I guess because it was a lovely day and it was a bank holiday weekend. In Abingdon I stopped at the Nags head pub where I ordered a veggie burger and chips which went down nicely. The break was perfect timing as I was a third of the way to Shillingford. Whilst eating my burger the landlord asked two youths who worked there to clear the weeds out of the borders, and to be careful with the stinging nettles, one of them explained that she could not because she was slightly allergic to them they give her a rash!

Around Appleford on Thames I got talking to a couple who were walking the Thames path this weekend. They weren’t doing it weekend after weekend like me or all in one go but had spent some time over the years doing stretches. This weekend they would be doing the last 20 miles on the Saturday 10 miles from Abingdon to Shillingford, and then 10 on the Sunday to wherever that is. The path crosses the river at Clifton Hampden, and a bit further on I sat and watched the people in their gardens mowing the lawn on there sit on mowers. Very grand houses with very long lawns leading down to the river’s edge the type of lawn that would need a sit on mower.

A few miles later nearing the end of the day I caught up with the couple I had met earlier. Earlier in the day when we had passed I had promised them a lift to Didcot if we arrived at Shillingford at the same time. They were very grateful for the lift and even sent me an email a few days later. We keep in touch every so often by email.

Thames path 2 – Day 4 Newbridge to Iffley Lock

An early start but not rushed one got me to Iffley near rosehill Oxford by 8:30. I used a royal Cabs taxi app to get a taxi, however the GPS was not quite locked in so the taxi went to the wrong address. It took me 5 minutes to hunt them down and get them to right place. My driver was very friendly and got me to the Rose Revived pub for around 0930.

About two miles in I caught up with a group of walkers who were just a little bit slower than me. I was crossing a field of sheep and baby lambs who kept clear of me, but one mother didn’t seem to want to get or move away from me then I heard a cry from the riverbank. I couldn’t see the lamb but there clearly was something hidden by the bank. On closer inspection there was a lamb in the water up to it’s neck and it was shivering. I took off my camera and rucksack so by laying on the riverbank was able to reach down to grab the lamb. Unlike cats and dogs there’s not a lot of slack in the skin around a lamb’s neck however I was able to grab enough to hoik the little one out of the river.

I got to Pinkhill lock and took some time out for a rest and some sustenance. I took a timelapse while a few boats went through the lock, I helped them with the lock gates. The group I had passed earlier caught up, I had a chat with some of the ladies. They were also dong the Thames path they came from st. Albans. They had transport challenges as well and as a group they had started hiring minibuses to help them get from A2B.

At the trout Inn I had seared sea bass for lunch. A female Mallard was being harassed by males who in turn were harassing the dinners. Suitably amused and refreshed I talked the final stretch, south past Oxford. I passed Port Meadow and massive flat green flood meadow. The path was busy clearly popular with Oxford people for a walk. To the south west of Oxford I went wrong passing under a railway bridge when I should not have, but I saw the remnants of what would have been a train turntable. I guess it was being preserved for prosperity but it was unloved and rusting away.

I passed the Head of the River pub where a wedding party was boarding a river boat. I was tired at that point so was keen to plod on. When I got to Iffley at the academic boat house I saw a group of people putting their boat away. We had been crossing paths all day. The wedding party was being dropped off at Isis Farmhouse, a pub I want to visit one day.

I soon got to Iffley lock and headed up hill and away from the river to find my car. It had been a long day 15 miles in total.