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Archive for the ‘walks around the UK’ Category

Stage 3 : Battersea Park to Richmond 21.04.2021 – 27.02 kms – 6 hours 24 min – 40,316 steps – elevation 82 meters

Battersea Park to Richmond – what a joy. I was totally excited about this section of the Thames Path because it passes some of the places I love so much.

I left home fairly early and caught the train to Battersea Park station and retraced my steps to Rosery Gate.

Gatehouse Battersea Park – back where I ended..

Once in the park I followed the signs for the Thames Path till I reached Chelsea Gate and stopping only to take a photo of the bridge.

The Thames Path ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ through Battersea Park

, I set off along the Sri Chinmoy Peace Mile. What a splendid section of the path, wide open space and stunning views of the river (in my opinion, the whole path should be like this ๐Ÿ˜‰)

The Sri Chinmoy Peace Mile – I forgot to actually take a photo of the mile ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”

As you head upstream with the river on your right you will arrive at the magnificent London Peace Pagoda. This beautiful structure is worth a few minutes of your time. Walk right around it to appreciate the sheer magnificence of this wonderful place – the Pagoda is dedicated to the realisation of Universal Peace. It’s beautiful.

The London Peace Pagoda
London Peace Pagoda

Never one to follow a straight route, I often go off-piste to explore and today, after viewing the Peace Pagoda i walked across to the fabulous fountains, and then back again.

Fountains in Battersea Park

Next up the stunning Albert Bridge – another of my favourite bridges, it looks ever so pretty when lit up at night. I stopped to take a pic of the guard house – Albert Bridge Notice ‘All troops must break step when marching over this bridge’ – that always gives me a chuckle when reading it….

Albert Bridge
All Troops must break step….

The path along this section is really lovely, well paved and clean as it passes office and apartment blocks on the left. I crossed a wee creek; Ransome’s Dock, via a footbridge, then stopped to look at the fabulous Atrate barge/sailing ship moored alongside the banks. I soon reached Battersea Bridge where I briefly stopped to photograph the beautiful swan sculpture by Catherine Marr-Johnson, these very naturalistic swans are captured in the act of taking flight…across the Thames…

Atrate
Swans taking flight…

The next Thames Path signpost read: Wandsworth Park 2.5 miles (4km) – okay so another hour then. Passing through an open space is another interesting sculpture: ‘In Town’ of a man, woman and child by John Ravera.

In Town – John Ravera

The pathway along this section is beautifully paved, wide and clean, passing a number of apartment blocks on the left and a view across the river to Chelsea Harbour Pier from whence Queen Elizabeth II set sail along the Thames for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 (OMG!! that was 9 years ago…feels like just recently… where does the time go?).

The varied path…

Going strong at this stage I passed some fabulous houseboats moored alongside the banks and soon reached St. Mary’s Church Battersea, made famous by JWM Turner who painted scenes of the church from the opposite banks of the river.

St. Mary’s Church, Battersea

Parked in front of the church was a little coffee and sandwich trailer – @thefeelgoodbkry : The Feel Good BakeryFor every Feel Good sandwich you buy, a child in need of food will receive a free meal. Thatโ€™s it. Simple. โ€˜One Small Sandwich for man, one giant sandwich for mankindโ€™. I stopped to buy some coffee and a sweet treat, and got to chatting to the chap managing the show who told me more, so I did a bit of research and found more information on their website: We are a charitable bakery and youth development programme creating job opportunities for young people in South West London, simultaneously feeding children in Kenya and Romania one sandwich at a time through our “one-for-one” scheme. What a brilliant scheme.

The Feel Good Bakery

The church was open, so never one to miss an opportunity I popped in for a quick look around. St. Mary’s is the oldest church in Battersea and the original church was built around 800AD, the current church completed in 1777, designed by Joseph Dixon. The church has strong connections with art and literature through the artist and poet William Blake, who married Catherine Boucher there on 17 August 1782. ref wikipedia The interior was quite simple in relation to some of the churches I’ve visited, and the stained glass windows are exquisite. One such window commemorated Benedict Arnold who was ‘Sometime General in the arm of George Washington. So a strong American connection and the window depicts the American flag alongside the British flag.

St Mary’s Church Battersea

Outside, the view across the river from the little park is so peaceful. I could have stayed the day, but instead I sat on one of the benches for a short while to enjoy my coffee and pastry.

View from the porch of St. Mary’s

Setting off again I stopped a bit further on to look back and the tide was well out. Next up Battersea Railway Bridge…onwards

Looking back…

I passed the London Heliport which brought back joyous memories of my 60th birthday when my daughter surprised me with a helicopter flight over London for my birthday. It also brought back a memory of my father; it was the last time I spoke to him. He died a few years later. As I got back to the riverside after the diversion round the heliport and the hotel, I was treated to a helicopter coming in to land. ๐Ÿ™‚

London Helicopters

The path was still beautifully wide and paved, with attractive residential apartments lining the route. I don’t mind the type of development where the designers et al have had the courtesy to leave the path unhindered and free for walking.

Battersea Reach. It’s many years since I walked along this section of the river and I was pleasantly surprised. Besides the lovely ‘pathway’, the Thames Tidal planting added a wonderful element of nature to the area; the planting has seen the reintroduction of native plant species by planting them into the new river bank.

Tidal planting on the Thames

I passed Wandsworth Bridge and followed the path until my route was once again blocked by a great big industrial site. Ugh. And so another diversion, this time around the Western Riverside Waste Authority complex and then heading back to the river after crossing the River Wandle; it wasn’t very pretty and looked dark and forlorn with the tide out.

Poor River Wandle

The sign suggested that the next section was called ‘Riverside Walk’, but it was closed off for some dortbif construction. Instead, I meandered between high-rise apartment blocks and business premises passing some interesting sculptures.

Highrise living in Wandsworth

And then Wandsworth Park at the far end of which I had another diversion around a row of residential houses that lead right down to the banks of the river a small church and so to Putney Bridge. The route took me past some lovely houses and through an interesting open space.

Diversion in Wandsworth Park
The acorn sticker shows the way
Putney Bridge is in view

Wandsworth Park; a Grade II listed Edwardian park, is lovely, albeit not as lush as some of the parks you find dotted along the Thames. I did find the magnificent avenue of Lime and Plane trees absolutely stunning and stopped to puzzle over the sculpture – Pygmalion by Alan Thornhill. One of a number of similar sculptures dotted around on the Putney Sculpture Trail. I can’t say that they are they type of sculptures that appeal to me, but I’m guessing some people may like them.

Trees Wandsworth Park
Sculptures by Alan Thornhill
St Mary’s next to Putney Bridge – love the sundial

Once passed Putney Bridge the Thames Path became more rural with a lot more trees and greenery and gravel instead of paving or metalled surfaces. Its wonderful walking along these sections; fresh air, birdsong, flowers and peace….blissful.

Rural Thames path

I passed the Steve Fairbairn memorial on the Mile Post; a stone obelisk popularly known as the Mile Post, is exactly one mile from the Putney end of the Championship Course. I thought about my friend Joe who is Captain of the Trinity Tide for Trinity House in London. I’ve often watched the various London races he and his crew participate in on the Thames.

Memorial to Steve Fairbairn

Ahead of me I could see a gorgeous red-brick building with a domed tower….intrigued I wondered what it was – it’s a Harrods furniture depository LOL Such a fancy word and building for storing furniture…but hey it’s Harrods!

Harrods furniture depository

I saw lots of rowers on the river at this stage, many of the rowing clubs line the banks of the Thames from here on. The waters are a LOT calmer than in central London, with a lot less traffic so it makes a suitable environment for practising, and I could hear the various megaphones amplifying the coach’s voices. I love watching rowers on the river, but with time marching on, I had to march on too: it was already 3pm by now. I did however stop for my 2nd short break to eat and replenish.

Putney

The beautiful, albeit fragile Hammersmith Bridge is currently closed to all traffic due to structural weakness and repairs going on. The 133-year old bridge is made of cast iron which is brittle and can shatter. So for the forseeable future it is structurally unsafe. She is quite old after all; built in 1824!!

Hammersmith Bridge

Welcome to Richmond Upon Thames – why thank you!!! Yes!! At 15:18 I finally reached the border of Richmond. Whoo whoo not long to go now till journey’s end and my favourite place in Greater London. Richmond U-T is twinned with Fonteinebleau in France, Konstanz in Germany and Richmond, Virginia USA. Across the river I could see some of the pretty Georgian and Victorian houses that face the river. Richmond is an area with a rich tapestry of history.

Welcome to Richmond Upon Thames

On my walk, at various places, I noticed quite a few sad little memorials: remembering people who had drowned in the river. The Thames is deceptive and on the surface does not give an indication of the dangerous and fast currents just below. I’ve seen a large car being lifted up and carried off from a slipway in Richmond before…..the river is tidal and powerful and sometimes people forget that…with tragic consequences. Just across from that memorial is a sad little memorial to Freddie the Seal who was viciously attacked by a dog off it’s leash.

Memorial to Freddie the Seal

Dog owners KNOW that they are meant to keep their animals on a leash, but no! “oh, he’s never done that before” or “oh, my dog would never behave like that” until they do! And it always comes as ‘such’ a surprise!! The culprit’s owner in this instance actually got off with her misdemeanour….The owner of the dog which brutally mauled a popular Putney seal to death will not face charges, the Metropolitan Police has confirmed. Of course she won’t, she’s a barrister! Ugh. Makes me so mad. Why isn’t she facing charges…other people have??? Anyway, I digress. This type of injustice makes me furious. Stupid woman.

Back to the river…

The pathway is delicious at this stage, soft gritty gravel beneath your feet, lush green trees on both sides, Loverly!! I saw a memorial bench to David and Margaret Sharp “who did so much to create the Thames Path” Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚

Thank you David and Margaret

All too soon though you reach urban conglomeration again LOL and boof back to the metalled surfaces…hell on the feet. With Barnes Railway Bridge behind me and Chiswick Bridge just 1.3 miles ahead it was now 16:12 and in reality I still had quite a way to go before reaching Richmond Bridge.

Urban development, not always pretty

Not long after I reached Chiswick Bridge where the annual Oxford/Cambridge race; The Boat Race, passes the finish line. Many a year have I stood near the bridge to watch the end of the race as well as the preceding Watermen’s Race. In most years over 250,000 people watch the race from the banks of the river between Putney and Mortlake.

Budweiser – excellent location for a brewery
And a pub next door ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿป๐Ÿป
This is the spot where I would stand to watch the race finishes – Chiswick Bridge
Walking the Thames Path
Joe Lane Capt of the Trinity Tide and crew at the 2014 Boat Race

Not a brilliant image, I pulled it off instagram since I don’t have a copy in my storage – however….

Kew Bridge and Gardens was now just 2 miles ahead of me. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked this stretch of the river….it is beautiful. When we lived in Richmond I would often stroll along the banks of the Thames from Richmond Lock to Chiswick Bridge, just because I could. This stretch of the river as well as from Richmond Bridge to Hampton Court is so familiar to me and it felt really good to be walking here again.

At Kew Pier I noticed a concrete key-shaped sculpture….on investigation I found it is called ‘Cayho’ by Marc Folds. It’s really quite odd that I’ve never seen it before although it’s been there since 2000. I guess we see different things at different times. According to the sculptor, it’s called CAYHO, the AngloSaxon name for Kew – ‘key shaped piece of land’. How cool is that!

CAYHO

The Thames Path is a mostly shared space and you will cross ‘paths’ with fellow walkers, joggers, runners and cyclists, dog-walkers, parents pushing strollers or running after escaping toddlers.

Along this stretch of the river is where you will start to see some of the many little islands in the stream…there are dozens of islands dotting the path of the Thames; large and small, unoccupied and residential/business islands, eyots or aits. Many offer a refuge for wildlife, which personally I think is the best use for them.

Islands and rowers

Hello Kew! So nice to see yew!! ๐Ÿ™‚ Oh how much I love Kew.

The Pink Palace – Kew Gardens. My heartbeat escalated…yayyy I’m nearly there. By now it was 17:03 and I had been walking since 12:05pm. I have to say this again – this section of the river is absolutely gorgeous..any time of the year. Lush leafy trees, thick green grass, and heavenly views of the river…sunset on a clear night from this area is fab.u.lous! Its equally gorgeous in winter when the trees have shed their foliage, and of course spring and autumn are splendid.

Kew Palace – the Pink Palace

Kew Palace is the smallest of all the royal palaces, originally built as a fashionable mansion for wealthy London silk merchant, Samuel Fortrey in 1631. In the 1720s, the royal family, George II and Queen Caroline and their children arrived and took leases on the palace and several other houses in the near vicinity. It was a place where they could be private, domestic, and live normal lives unencumbered by the trappings of ceremony and deference. The gardens were cultivated as an idyllic pleasure ground. Later the house became a refuge for George III, when he fell ill and was thought to have become mad.

Kew Gardens is absolutely magnificent with so much to see and do. Their annual orchid festival is a feast of colour, you could never imagine there were so many varieties of orchids. I really must visit again. At this point the pathway is wide with edges m’dear! Ever so posh territory now! Hah! Here too, gorgeous clumps of bluebells decorated the verges…seriously, I’m sure the colours of the flowers are more vibrant this year! All flowers and blossoms….they all seems so much brighter.

A peek at Kew Gardens near the riverside

I stopped briefly to look back and in the far distance I could see the apartment block towers of Putney, or is it Barnes? Across the river is Syon House, not visible from here, but you can see the pretty pink structure that is the Old Pavillion in Old Isleworth, close to Syon Park.

Across the river, the Old Pavilion

Within a few minutes I was walking past Richmond Lock – the first of the locks on the tidal Thames, it controls the river at high tide and prevents, mostly, flooding of Richmond and higher places upstream. However…if you lived in Richmond, Twickenham or St Margaret’s, you’ll know for sure that at high tide, cars that are parked along the riverside get swamped, and I’ve even seen a car lifted up by the river from a slipway and sent sailing off towards the sea…it would likely get stuck at the lock, but just imagine your car sailing down the river and through London central!!

I’ve had some hilarious moments at high tide, and one time had to be rescued off the metal barrier after I decided it would be a good idea to walk along it to access the bridge. I very quickly realised the folly of my endeavour hanging precariously over the top rail till the gentleman who lived in the nearest barge waded through the water in his knee high wellies and carried me off. My daughter captured the incident on camera for posterity ๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคช Although she was laughing so much I’m surprised she was able to keep the camera steady.

Richmond Lock

Then I was crossing the Greenwich Meridian line that runs across through the Old Deer Park (a fragment of the land connected to Richmond Palace, named from the hunting park created by James I in 1604) and marked with a metallic strip across the path so you don’t miss it. The Kingโ€™s Observatory, located in the Old Deer Park, Richmond Surrey, was commissioned in 1769 by King George III, a keen amateur astronomer. The Observatory cupola, housing its telescope, is now the oldest of its type in the world.

Old Deer Park, hunting ground of Kings and Queens
Greenwich Mean Time

I soon passed The Swan Pub and Asgill House and remembered so many happy evenings and days in this area; sitting on the edge of the riverside, legs dangling towards the river and watching as it rose quickly, higher and higher till it touched your feet and you had to move pretty pronto or get a wet bottom LOL I also remember walking, no shoes on, along this section of the path wading through the water at high tide. Many of the businesses that line the path have high water marks on their doors where the high tide had intruded.

The Swan Pub, Richmond and Asgill House

That path, Cholmondeley Walk, in the bottom left image is sometimes under 2-3 feet of water at high tide.

I had planned to meet a friend from instagram at the bridge at 6pm, and it was now just after…so I hurried along, passing a couple dancing to flamenco music…the charms of the Richmond Riverside. Always something musical happening.

Dancing at Richmond Riverside

And then…journey’s end!! Hoorah! At exactly 18:04 I touched the bridge…..I had made it. Stage 3 done and dusted.

Richmond Bridge

I was glad though that it wasn’t high tide right then or I’d have had to make a big diversion through town. Veevs and I connected at last and because it was already quite late, we headed for the station via The Green, but first a short diversion to go past Richmond Palace.

Richmond Palace

Richmond Palace is a fantastic place, albeit a lot smaller than it was originally, once a royal home erected about 1501 by Henry VII of England (n 1509 Henry VII died at Richmond Palace), Richmond Palace was a favourite home of Queen Elizabeth, who died there on 24 March 1603. It remained a residence of the kings and queens of England until the death of Charles I in 1649 after which it was sold and eventually fell into disrepair. Only vestigial traces survive, most notably the Gatehouse, the King’s Wardrobe, The Trumpeter’s House etc…all now private residences. It even has connections to Chaucer:  In 1368 Geoffrey Chaucer served as a yeoman at Sheen. Queen Mary I, after her marriage to Phillip II of Spain, spent her honeymoon there. Richmond Palace was one of the first buildings in history to be equipped with a flushing lavatory, invented by Elizabeth I’s godson, Sir John Harington. There is so much history attached to the palace and I can’t possibly list it all, so I’ve added a link to wikipedia in case you’re interested to read more than just the snippets I’ve included above.

I bought my ticket home and we had just enough time for a quick chat while I quenched my thirst with a hot chocolate ๐Ÿ™‚ of course. I think I deserved it.

Battersea Park to Richmond. What a terrific walk and section of the river. Although I was squeezed for time and didn’t have much chance to dilly dally, I did stop a few times for short breaks. The riverside from Putney onwards is so inviting and if you can find a free bench to sit on, there are lots of little spaces and hollows where you could find a fallen log or boulder to sit on and while away the time.

Read more about Stage 2 of my walk along the Thames Path

Stage 4 – Richmond to Hampton Court. Bring it on! Another of my most favourite sections of the river.

“The Thames is liquid history”. John Burns

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Finally after talking about it for years, and planning for the last few months, I started Walking the Thames Path – in honour of reaching my OAP status; I’m now officially a Pensioner!! Best part of that…free bus pass. Oh and my pension pay-outs, although I won’t be retiring anytime soon on that!! But it will be good to get some of my hard-earned money back from HMRC

As mentioned in a previous post, due to current Covid-19 lockdown restrictions I was unable to proceed with my original plans to walk the whole of the Thames Path over a period of 3 weeks. So instead I took Rishi’s advice and pivoted LOL. Not that I want to take advice from a CONservative government representative, but nonetheless, I had to re-plan my plans….so to that end I decided to walk the first 5 stages as day trips…

I will, going forward, write in detail and share images from each day’s walk but for now I thought I’d give you a progress report, showing where I started and ended and how far I walked each day. I did 5 stages and make super progress reaching my target of walking from Erith in Kent to Staines-Upon-Thames in Surrey.

I had the most superb weather on 4 days of 5 and had a wonderful time just walking and exploring. My distances are not accurate to the mile according to measured distances because I tend to go off-piste and explore a church or building I may spot along the way, I also head off the path to take photos of things I may see in the distance, and for the sake of my ‘boots on’ walking challenges, I start measuring my kms from the minute my feet hit the platform at the relevant station/s, as well as my walk from home to the station (1.25kms each way). I’d love to measure just how much walking I do in transit, but that would just get too complicated….suffice to say that the walk from the platform at St Pancras via the Victoria Line underground passage, would I’m sure, add another couple of kms.

The timings too are not at all related to anything you may find in a guide book or online, because firstly I’m a slow stroller (although my daughter would contest that!!), I stop frequently to take photos of things that may interest me or I wish to share, and I stop quite often to rest my feet for 10-15 minutes a time or even 30 minutes if the mood takes me and I don’t have a deadline to meet. Or it’s a sunny day and I feel like just lying in the sun.

Planning the day trips wasn’t necessarily the easiest way of doing this because I had to take account of train times so I could get home before midnight LOL and also calculate the cheapest way to do the walk….e.g. buy a return ticket from point A to B after morning peak time, and then work out to which station I had to buy a single ticket to fill the gap between point C and point B. This was not only for timings but budgets as well. Although I did originally budget to use the cheaper train routes, I decided by day 2 that speed of transport was more important than food, so I increased my travel budget and reduced my food budget, and took sandwiches plus nibbles and fruit and a flask of tea with me. There’s also the issue of battery life on my phone. It seems to reduce rather rapidly because of all the photos I take….and the highspeed train has charging points. Also I’m not a great ‘staring out the window’ traveller and prefer to actually ‘do something’ while I’m travelling. So I move photos to dropbox and edit those I want to share….

So, in all I did 5 stages starting at Erith on 17th and reached Staines on the 24th. I didn’t walk consecutive days but had a 2 day break in between to rest and take my grandson out, and a one day break to spend with the family to celebrate my birthday. We had awesome fun – went to The Old Bake House in Broadstairs for breakfast, then a ramble on the beach, and a game of mini-golf which was hilarious…my grandson went crazy with his stick, whacking the ball all over. This was followed by crepes and fruit juice. Delicious, and a fantastic day.

without further ado…

Stage 1 : Erith to Greenwich. 17.04.2021 – 27.08 kms – 6 hours 47 min – 41,812 steps – elevation: 46 meters

I had originally planned to walk as far as the Thames Barrier which is the official starting point of the long-distance Thames Path route, but it was a beautiful day and I was having such a good time that I decided to push on to Greenwich, and thereby shorten my next day’s walking. This section was new to me. Although I have in the past walked from the Thames Barrier to Greenwich, the path from Erith to the barrier was completely new ground. The original section from Erith to the barrier was not the most scenic and there are a lot of really ugly industrial buildings and a sewerage plant (yes it smelled), but the path was amazingly straightforward, albeit bloody boring concrete a lot of the way.

walking the thames path
Stage 1 – Erith to the Thames Barrier – Walking the Thames Path
walking the thames path
Stage 1 – Thames Barrier to Greenwich – Walking the Thames Path

Stage 2 : Greenwich to Battersea Park 18.04.2021 – 24.51 kms – 6 hours 20 min – 38,376 steps – elevation 102 meters

Again this day was longer than I originally planned, but I wanted to push through as far as possible and thereby get further along and also shorten a later day’s journey. I’ve walked this whole route dozens of times over the years, different sections at different times and absolutely love (almost) every inch of it. I did NOT like the diversions…..it’s so inconsiderate of developers to buy up property that runs alongside the river and build bloody apartments, thereby blocking people from walking along the riverside. This section also runs through the centre of London and has the most bridges, so I stopped a lot for photos. LOL Also in London’s past the riverside was very industrial as since the Thames is a marine hotbed, there are a lot of old buildings and wharves etc that hog the riverside. hmmm.

walking the thames path
Stage 2 – Greenwich to Battersea Park – Walking the Thames Path

Stage 3 : Battersea Park to Richmond 21.04.2021 – 27.02 kms – 6 hours 24 min – 40,316 steps – elevation 82 meters

This day nearly bloody killed me LOL. It was much further than I calculated, or perhaps it felt like it because I started off already tired, and had a deadline for my train back home. It was though, one of the best days, walking familiar paths and passing familiar places where I spent many a happy hour walking in the past, and I got to meet a friend from instagram for a brief hello in Richmond. And despite my plans, I missed my train at St Pancras by literally 1 minute…as I got to the ticket barriers, I heard the doors being locked – ho hum!! ‘Hold that train!’ LOL

walking the thames path
Stage 3 – Battersea Park to Richmond – Walking the Thames Path

Stage 4 : Richmond to Hampton Court 23.04.2021 – 18.14 kms – 4 hours 47 min – 28,390 steps – elevation 40 meters

This day I had planned in celebration of my birthday. We used to live in St Margarets near Richmond and as with the previous stage, I often walked along sections of the Thames Path at different times; and in every season, including in the snow from Twickenham Bridge to Kew… ๐Ÿ™‚ I also wanted to reach Hampton Court Palace on my birthday because it is my absolute favourite palace in the world and although I wouldn’t have time to actually visit, just walking past would make me happy. It was a belting hot day, so I had 2 ice-creams on the way…one in Richmond as I started and one in Hampton Court as I finished. Just because. My daughter had given me ยฃ5 to buy a tea and cake along the way, but I felt ice-creams were more appropriate…also I could eat and walk!

walking the thames path
Stage 4 – Richmond to Hampton Court – Walking the Thames Path

Stage 5 : Hampton Court to Staines-Upon-Thames 24.04.2021 – 25.16 kms – 6 hours 47 min – 40,560 steps – elevation 43 meters

Staines is infamous for being the ‘hometown’ of Ali G (Sacha Cohen Baron for those who don’t know, who was actually born in Hammersmith). Again this was a long day and because I only had 6 hours to walk this stretch, I really had to push myself. I was also quite tired by then and found the final stretch between Shepperton and Staines really difficult. I was tempted to quit at Shepperton , but I loathe quitting and felt like I would be letting myself down if I did and it would mean either an extra day later on, or longer sections going forward. This section was new territory for me and I decided to take the guide book along…just in case – I didn’t need it. The path is well marked all the way from Erith. The stretch from Richmond to Staines is quite rural and if you didn’t know there were towns nearby, you’d think you were right out in the countryside. I missed my deadline by 47 minutes, but still managed to get an earlier train from STP

walking the thames path
Stage 5 – Hampton Court to Staines-Upon-Thames – Walking the Thames Path

What an amazing journey so far. The history of the River Thames is quite extraordinary and I discovered that the Vikings actually sailed right up the river as far as Chertsey, possibly further. We tend to think of them as coastal raiders and certainly they raided London a fair bit, but to my surprise they went as far as Chertsey…to raid the abbey. It was wonderful to revisit places I’d been before but not seen for years. Discovering new places and sections of my beloved river was a real treat. So even though I was really disappointed to not be able to walk The Thames Path in one go, in retrospect this is as good a way to ‘walk the walk’ as any. Frankly, I was quite exhausted by the 5th stage, and grateful I didn’t have to walk again for a while….how long that while will be is anyone’s guess. I have a few work bookings coming up, a few babysitting commitments and of course time with my grandson is more important than anything else and I try to spend as much time with him as possible between bookings…also I have 3 big walks planned for August/September that will take me away for nearly 6 weeks and those need to be saved up for. I have diarised another few days into my calendar to possibly do another 2 or maybe 3 day trips and then I’ll complete the rest of the walk in April 2022. Mostly because the accommodation is thin on the ground and VERY expensive. In comparison to accommodation on the Camino, it’s actually quite extortionate, but I’m guessing they don’t have that many guests and walkers staying over, so to charge ยฃ120 per night is reasonable – but WELL out of my price range. I’ll save the overnight excursions for out of season.

I will endeavour to write up and share images from these 5 stages as soon as possible. I subsequently created a preview; some short videos to show some of the fabulous sculptures and scenes of the river.

Meanwhile I’ve planned dates to continue walking sections of the Saxon Shore Way so I can get that under my belt, and of course my epic ‘walking the whole English Coast’ – I have a few dates diarised to fit some more days in for that as well this year. I hope to complete the Kent and Sussex coastline by end of 2021. I’ll still do small sections of other counties where and when I get the opportunity with work travel. Talking of which, I really must get to write up about the section of the South West Coast Path I recently walked….from Berry Head to Paignton and Paignton to Torquay. Super awesome walk and soooo beautiful. More on that later….

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Hello!!! ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ yes I’m still alive….and walking. What’s new?? ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

Sorry I’ve been so quiet lately, my only excuse is that I have been working and walking and enjoying time with my grandson.

I had a super couple of weeks in Devon recently where I got to visit 5 new places, revisit 1 and do a lot of walking and exploring, and added another section of the English Coast Path to my collection.

I got back home last week and as is usual I’ve spent as much time as possible taking my grandson to the beach and the park.

And yes, I started my Thames Path adventure ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ

although I can’t walk the whole route as I originally planned, I’ve completed 2 sections; Erith to Greenwich

Cutty Sark, Greenwich

And Greenwich to Battersea Park. Super awesome. Tomorrow I’ll be walking Stage 3 from Battersea Park to Richmond and on Friday, Stage 4, Richmond to Hampton Court. The 5th and final stage for now, I’ll be walking on Saturday from Hampton Court to Staines. The rest of the walk? Who knows??

Not the route I’m following, but the river certainly is long ๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜

As a result I’ve only managed 1 sunset walk at home and a couple of other sunsets I saw from the train on my way home from London. Sunrises = 0. The sun gets out of bed too early for me in summer ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜†

Seen from the train at Rochester station

So my blog has sadly been neglected. That’s not to say I haven’t been writing….I have quite a few posts sitting in drafts waiting to be completed, but I need to edit the photos that go with them.

I’ll get there.

Meanwhile, after taking my grandson to his 2nd gymnastics class yesterday I finally opened my computer again to update my budgets and plan my savings strategy for the next few years. Gosh I really do wish I had enough money to give me more time to do all the walks I’d like to do.

I completed the Giza Pyramids Conqueror Challenge while still in Stoke Gabriel so I should be seeing the medal in the mail soon.

I’ve started the Ring Road, Iceland challenge although that’s a long term challenge that I’ll flip in and out of over the next few months.

I’ve been dithering about which challenge to allocate the Thames Path walk ….Mt. Kilimanjaro (97.1kms) or The Cabot Trail (299.4kms)?? ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”

The Cabot Trail would have been perfect if I’d been able to walk the whole Thames Path route in one go and I’m reluctant to break it up…and Mt. Kilimanjaro will be completed in 4 days….or maybe 5 depending on my final tally on Saturday. See my quandary??

So anyway, now that I’ve blathered on for the last 10 minutes…here’s the promised sunset ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐ŸŒ…

Interesting to note that the position of the sun set has changed in the last few weeks
Sunset Pegwell Bay
Hello ๐Ÿ˜ƒ๐Ÿ˜ƒ
And my favourite boat in the harbour

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Just popping in quickly to share a photo from this morning’s sunrise.

I’m currently in South Devon, started a new booking today, but travelled here on Monday and spent 2 nights and a day in Paignton, with a visit to Torquay and Brixham and a walk along the South West Coast Path (more on that to come).

Meanwhile I went down to the seafront at 6am to watch the sunrise and I was not disappointed

You can just see the 2 cruise ships to the middle and far right

I’ll write soon about the trip….

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Today I’m on my way….heading home.

Its really nice to be able to say ‘home’, even though it’s a room in a shared house, its a base and home – for now. Although it was quite suitable in the past to stay in a b&b or guesthouse between jobs, the security of having a base is so much better.

Part of the reason I enjoyed staying at b&bs etc was because I used to travel between jobs, but now my little ๐Ÿ’™ lives in Ramsgate and I have a powerful reason to want a base to return to so I can spend precious time with him.

So today has finally arrived after what has, once again, been a very stressful 2 weeks. I’ve had 3 very stressful assignments since the beginning of the year and my goddess I’m tired.

I was hoping to start working again next week, but as has been the case in the last year, the agency do not have much work available. So I’ve accepted a position in Devon that only starts on 31st. Although this will have a slightly negative impact on my income, it does mean I have a good break and space to breathe.

I’ve started the process for claiming my pension, albeit insufficient to even pay my rent, it will give me a wee boost to save for my walking trips. I’ve not worked in the country long enough to qualify for a decent amount, but as the blurb goes….every little bit helps.

So talking of trips, crikey – after much rejigging my dates for my planned ๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค”๐Ÿค” Thames Path walk in April, and trying for the last 2 days to squeeze the dates etc, I finally got a decent looking schedule worked out, sat down last night to start changing the dates for the bookings I had already made, only to find that the prices are almost double in May. So that puts paid to that little escapade. Ugh. My head.

Back to square one as they say. I was so upset last night that I just shut my computer, used a few choice words at commercialism ๐Ÿคฌ๐Ÿคฌ๐Ÿคฌ and went to bed.

So over the next few days I’m going to go back to basics, cancel all the bookings I made for April since I can’t travel then anyway, do a new search. Thank goodness for booking.com where you can reserve a place, but have the option of cancelling within a reasonable time.

However, I am determined to do this trip….

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During my research of different pilgrimage routes in the UK and elsewhere, I came across this website http://www.greenpilgrimageeurope.net/ What interested me and encouraged me to read further was the mention of Canterbury.

Canterbury has been my final destination a number of times, it’s a fascinating city with an incredible history and I love visiting and exploring and especially passing beneath the West Gate at the end of my walks; Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, the Way of St Augustine (In 597AD, St Augustine arrived on England’s Isle of Thanet upon the instructions of Pope Gregory to bring the good news of Christianity to Kent, as Queen Bertha was already a committed Christian) and The Pilgrim’s Way.

the west gate canterbury
the West Gate Canterbury

The 119-mile (192km) Pilgrim’s Way from Winchester to Canterbury has been trodden by pilgrims for more than a thousand years but the origins of the pathway date back much earlier, to 1800-1400BC. The route was probably used for trade but after the death of St Augustine of Canterbury in 604, pilgrims started coming to venerate his remains at the Great Abbey. Canterbury also became an important stop for pilgrims making the long journey to Rome; Via Francigena.

After Thomas Becket was canonised in 1173, his shrine at Canterbury Cathedral became the most important in the UK. According toย Christopher Johnย Wright, author ofย A Guide to the Pilgrims’ Way, Canterbury wasย ‘after Rome… the chief shrine in Christendom’, and drew pilgrims from far and wide. Henry II is also said to travelled this route โ€“ as part of his pilgrimage for atonement for the murder of Thomas Becket.

a choral evensong service to commemorate Becketโ€™s martyrdom
a choral evensong service to commemorate Becketโ€™s martyrdom 29.12.2018

Pilgrimage is one of the fastest growing movements in the world, with more than 330 million people going on pilgrimage every year. ย The vision of Green Pilgrimage is that pilgrims leave a positive footprint on the earth, and thatย pilgrim places become models of care for the environment.

pilgrimage to canterbury
Pilgrims

Besides being the final destination for the walks I’ve mentioned above, Canterbury is often the starting point for those enroute to European Pilgrimage sites such as Santiago de Compostela in Spain and theย Via Francigenaย to Rome.

I love what they say about the 7 stages of pilgrimage

Number 7 definitely resonates with me; although I’m not a religious or even pious person and believe in evolution rather than creation, I relish the challenges I face and find that yes, in ways that I sometimes don’t even notice immediately, I am always a different person at the end of each walk.

For me it’s the journey as well as the destination, and my stages of pilgrimage are:

1. Discovering a new pilgrimage that venerates a Saint I usually have never heard of and then learning more about them.

2. Researching and planning the route; usually gives me a series of headaches LOL but it is definitely enlightening.

3. Since I usually travel solo, my interactions are invariably brief and with strangers, yet each brings their own little story and memories of so many of these interactions linger for years, and I still think of certain people I met.

4. Understanding the story is usually where I am totally honest; I walk these routes because I love walking, adventure and discovering new places. If I’m not walking for a religious reason, does that make me less of a pilgrim?

5. For me this was about finding my ‘Camino’ eyes. A weird term until you realise it’s about suddenly realising you ‘see’ the signs along the way without having to search for them. This I have found on all my walks.

6. I definitely resonate with this; there is nothing I enjoy more than just looking around me and taking it all in – hence the number of photographs I take, and why my kms are way more than the stated distance – I have to explore.

7. I’m not so sure about the ‘should‘ recognise, but I definitely do recognise the differences. Sometimes they are emotional, or mental, but without doubt they include physical. With each walk that I do, along with the challenges they bring, I find I am more courageous and less fearful of what difficulties I may find along ‘the way’. I have overcome, and will continue to overcome the challenges.

There are so many different pilgrimages around the UK and Rep. of Ireland as well as Europe, and farther afield in Japan that I would love to do. I have added them to my vision board….and sent a telegram to the Universe.

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Right then, after years and years of thinking about it, I’m now in the actual planning stages of walking the Thames Path – from sea to source.

Edit: 09/03 – I realized I should have titled this post as ‘Walking the Thames Path’, not river…I don’t have the right shoes for walking the river ๐Ÿ˜‰

I mentioned in an earlier post that I was keen to walk it for my birthday; that comes up in April. So since the government have decreed (at this juncture), that from 12th April: UK domestic holidays away from home permitted….I’m off!! I’m also grateful to note that hairdressers will be opening too….I really need to chop my hair off, it’s working on my nerves, mostly because it has no style due to the fact that I HAVE been chopping it off for the last 15 months!! LOL

Anyway, back to the Thames Path. When I finally decided to do this walk, I bought the book and immediately started reading. Unfortunately the guide takes us from sea (almost) to source and not the other way around. So to that end (as mentioned in said earlier post), I have decided that I shall temporarily, purely to suit the occasion, reinvent myself as an adventurer who has stumbled across this great big river and want to find the source….a bit like Levison Wood except in reverse…and he of course explored the Nile….at 6,650kms, that’s a different kettle of fish (no pun intended). The Thames’ 346kms is just a Sunday stroll in comparison.

So, what is the River Thames!? According to Britannica: “River Thames, ancient Tamesis or Tamesa, also called (in Oxford, England) River Isis, chief river of southern England. Rising in the Cotswold Hills, its basin covers an area of approximately 5,500 square miles (14,250 square km). The traditional source at Thames Head, which is dry for much of the year, is marked by a stone in a field 356 feet (108.5 metres) above sea level and 3 miles (5 km) southwest of the town of Cirencester.

However, there is some dispute, and apparently, “some think a tributary, the River Churn, has a better claim to being the source; it rises near the village of Seven Springs (700 feet [213 metres] above sea level), just south of Cheltenham”.

Seven Springs features in the long-running argument over the true source of the River Thames. Two plaques at the site read “Hic tuus o Tamesine Pater septemgeminus fons” (Latin for “Here, O Father Thames, is your sevenfold spring”). Seven Springs is further from the mouth of the Thames than the medieval-preferred source at Thames Head near Kemble. In 2012 Coberley Parish Council posted a notice, on site, that “Seven Springs is certainly one of the sources of the River Thames and is held by many to be the ultimate source.” ref wikipedia

So, I guess I shall have to visit both…or shall I walk there? Hmmm. I think I’ll decide closer to the time depending on how footsore and weary I am after walking for 14 days – with a backpack. It’s an extra 33+kms which will add an extra 2 days to my journey, and the River Churn on google maps looks quite small, but after visiting google earth last night I determined that there are pathways pretty much along the whole length, barring a few farmers fields, some roads and a the odd house that appears to border the river….If I decide at the time to walk that extra 33kms (20.6 miles), then I’ll just go and deal with whatever confronts me when I get there – pretty much like I do on all my walks….just go! Of course that sometimes requires detours etc, but it’s the journey…

Meanwhile, I’m putting in loads of walking by following my Conqueror Challenges, and reading up on the route. There are loads of fantastic villages and towns along the route, some of which I have already visited and of course as mentioned in that article I have walked a large section of the Thames Path, the tidal section between Gravesend and Teddington Lock and further afield to Hampton Court.

I’ve kinda toyed with the idea of ‘maybe’ skipping out the tidal section since I’ve ‘been there, done that’, but it doesn’t feel right somehow…so I guess I shall just have to plan to walk the whole thing. I often read about people who do some walks, like the French Camino, in sections over the years, but I just know that’s no good for me…I likely won’t get back to finish off. There’s always something else to do. Mind you having said that, I did finally manage to complete The Pilgrim’s Way, but only because I made a spur of the moment decision to just do it….or else it would still be outstanding….which is was… outstanding that is ๐Ÿ˜

So a little more about the River Thames:

The River Thames is England’s longest river at 346 kms (216.25 miles) – (albeit disputed coz of the tributary) the River Severn at 354km is the longest in the United Kingdom. So if they did add the River Churn’s 33kms (20.62miles), the Thames would indeed be the longest.

The River Thames flows from the source at Thames Head near the hamlet of Kemble in an easterly direction and after 366.4 kms (229 miles) it flows into the North Sea into the Thames Estuary near Southend-on-Sea. Now, kindly note that I am not about to walk from Southend-on-Sea as this adds on an extra 20km which would require ANOTHER 2 days….and I don’t have all the time in the world. I’ll simply add that section to when I walk the Essex coast (which as a matter of interest is 560 kms (350 miles).

The River Thames flows through 8 counties: Gloucestershire, Wiltshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire, Surrey, Essex, and Kent.

Besides all the smaller towns, the River Thames flows through or alongside: Lechlade (where you can find the famous Father Thames sculpture), Oxford, Reading, Henley-on-Thames (famous for the annual regatta), Maidenhead, Windsor (where the Queen sometimes lives) and Eton (famous for it’s posh totty school), Molesey (near Hampton Court). Including the smaller towns and villages…26 in all.

In Greater London the Thames passes Hampton Court Palace, Surbiton, Kingston Upon Thames, Teddington (where the tidal Thames ends at the lock), Richmond, Kew, Chiswick, Barnes, Hammersmith, Fulham, Putney, Wandsworth, Battersea (where my paternal grandfather was born) and Chelsea.

Continuing through central London: Pimlico, Lambeth, Vauxhall, it then passes the Palace of Westminster and the London Eye amongst many other landmarks of the City of Westminster, then between The City of London and Southwark till it reaches the world-famous Tower of London.

Into the lower reaches: the river passes through some of the most historic areas: Bermondsey, Wapping, Shadwell, Limehouse, Rotherhithe (from whence the Mayflower carrying pilgrims to the New World set sail), Millwall, Deptford, Royal Greenwich (where Henry VIII was born – the Palace of Placentia as were his daughters Mary & Elizabeth, while his son was born at Hampton Court Palace) and home of the Prime Meridian and Greenwich Mean Time, then Blackwall, Charlton and Silvertown and finally through the Thames Barrier – which is where the Guidebook starts the journey, and onto the the sea. The Thames Barrier is the largest moveable flood barrier in the world.

The River Thames is crossed by over 200 bridges, 27 tunnels, six public ferries, one cable car link, and one ford. There are 30 bridges from Tower Bridge to Teddington Lock – arguably the most famous of those being London Bridge (the first bridge to cross the Thames built by the Romans in 50 AD which was a wooden structure), and Tower Bridge (often misnamed as London Bridge).

There are around 180 islands altogether on the Thames, 45 of which are inhabited – some of the islands have animal, bird or food names; Monkey Island, Frog Island, Lower Horse Island, Buck Island, Swan Island, Heron Island, Raven’s Ait, Ham Island, Eel Pie Island (I briefly lived in a gypsy caravan on Eel Pie Island in Richmond in 2011), there’s even a Pharoah’s Island and Queen’s Eyot, and the famous Magna Carta Island.

The Thames has frozen over at least 23 times between 1309 and 1814, and on five occasions the ice was strong enough to hold a fair on the river, the first known ‘frost fair’ on the River Thames was in AD 695. There are a few famous paintings depicting the frost fairs on the Thames in London from the 17th century.

The River Thames is also known as the River Isis in Oxford.

Many species make the River Thames their home; birds, fish, eels, seals (Thames estuary)and even dolphins

A number of famous painters have depicted the Thames in their paintings: Turner, Monet, Canaletto and Whistler, amongst others.

The River Thames began its life in the Jurassic Period โ€“ between 170 and 140 million years ago, has changed it’s course over millenia and once flowed into the River Rhine in Germany. Courtesy of wikipedia: For most of the Early Pleistocene the Ancestral Thames was the main river with, at its maximum extent, a catchment area that extended into Wales alongside the Chiltern Hills, through southern East Anglia and finally into Doggerland (now the North Sea), where it joined the ancestral Rhine.

I’m still dithering about whether to start my journey at The Thames Barrier or from Gravesend. If I do start from Gravesend it will mean adding on an extra 2 days, whereas I could rather add on those 2 days at the end to follow the River Churn to Seven Springs. I’ve already walked from Southwark to Gravesend when following Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route to Canterbury…..so, I need to make a decision and soon… my start date is 19th April!!

I’m really looking forward to discovering more about the places along the river from Hampton Court onwards to the source.

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A couple of days ago my phone had a bit of a ‘moment’ and wouldn’t switch on!! My heart almost stopped because besides my photos, most of which thankfully are in dropbox, are still in camera memory waiting to be transferred, but as well as that I have dozens of Samsung notes with information on all the walks I plan to do…depending on how long I live of course.

So in order to avoid the stress of losing the information if the phone needs a factory reset, its time to transfer them elsewhere. So why not here. It sets my intention and let’s the universe know I’m still wishing for a sponsor to pay for them all ๐Ÿ˜‰๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜๐Ÿ˜ and from here I can copy paste to dropbox. Of course if dropbox goes down…..๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคช๐Ÿคช๐Ÿ˜ฑ๐Ÿ˜ฑ

For starters: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2021/jan/13/how-intention-turns-a-walk-into-a-pilgrimage-5-british-walking-pilgrim-trails

Anyway, here goes. In no particular order as they say on Strictly Come Dancing…..or should that be ‘strictly go walking’…

The Viking Trail, Kent : Cliff’s End to Reculver, Kent, Isle of Thanet – 32 mile (51.4km) / 2 days route on the Isle of Thanet. I’ve already walked the coastal route over various excursions, some of it a number of times. This trail takes you on a coastal walk from Cliff’s End off Pegwell Bay where you can see the Hugin Viking Boat replica, passing through Ramsgate, Dumpton Gap, Broadstairs, Kingsgate, Margate, Westgate, Birchington on Sea to Reculver, where it then heads inland….the inland section I have not yet walked, but I have walked St Augustine’s Way from Ramsgate to Canterbury via Minster which is on the route.

Saxon Shore Way, Gravesend to Hastings : http://www.kentramblers.org.uk/KentWalks/Saxon_Shore/153-mile (246 km) / 14 days – as with The Viking Trail, I’ve walked a number of sections of this trail, but now that I’ve bought the book and see the whole route, I’m keen to walk all the way in one go…..we’ll see. The sections I’ve walked are from Gravesend to Faversham when I walked Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route (I diverted inland to Canterbury from Faversham) and from Ramsgate to Dover (this section I’ve walked over a few days in 2020 as part of my quest to walk the entire English Coast). What surprised me when I bought the book, is that the trail goes inland near Margate to Sandwich. But if you’re aware of the Isle of Thanet, then you’d realise that in fact the route did follow the coast at the time, when Thanet was actually an island and cut off from the mainland by the River Wantsum. The route also goes inland from Folkestone to Rye. The ‘historian’ is treated to the “Saxon Shore” forts built by the Romans at Reculver, Richborough, Dover and Lympne, to the landing place of St. Augustine and of Caesar (Pegwell Bay) and to defences of more modem times against Napoleon and Hitler.

Celtic Way, Cornwall : https://www.cornishcelticway.co.uk/ 125 miles (200km) / 12 days – from St. Germans to St, Michael’s Mount. There’s a guide book and passport that goes with this walk…I guess I’ll just have to do it “sigh”.

Coast to Coast Britain : 182-mile (293 km) St Bees (west) to Robin Hood’s Bay (east) : passes through three contrasting national parks: the Lake District National Park, the Yorkshire Dales National Park, and the North York Moors National Park. Long Distance Walks This is probably going to be one of those walks that I maybe never get to do; it’s almost a 3 week walk….but hey, add it on.

After reading the book The Salt Path (a true story), I found I was suddenly very keen to walk the South West Coast Path as well, so I’ve added it to my list https://m.southwestcoastpath.org.uk/walk-coast-path/south-west-coast-path-national-trail/SWCP-itinerary/

Southwest Coast Path, England : https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/south-west-coast-path/ 630 miles (1008kms) / 56 days – this is a walk I would plan to do over a period of time for sure and incorporate it into my quest to walk the entire English Coast.

South Downs Way, England : https://www.southdowns.gov.uk/south-downs-way/ 100 miles (160kms) / 10 days – I’m well keen to walk this route ASAP. Winchester to Eastbourne; follows the old routes and droveways along the chalk escarpment and ridges of the South Downs.

The Egrets Way, East Sussex, England : https://www.egretsway.org.uk/route 7 miles (11.2kms) / 1 day : from Newhavenโ€™s Riverside Park the Egrets Way follows the course of the River Ouse north to Lewes passing close to the villages of Piddinghoe and Southease. I’ll tie this in with the South Downs Way when I do that route.

The Fosse Way – a Roman route from Exeter to Lincoln, England : https://britishheritage.com/travel/roman-road-fosse-way 240 miles (384kms) / 21-28 a number of days!! I suspect this is going to be one of those walks that I do in sections. I’ve already walked a very tiny section of the ‘way’ in Shepton Mallet last year. During the Roman occupation in Britain (AD 43โ€“410), they built some 8,000 miles of known roads, and to this day many of them underlie our more modern constructions. The name โ€œFosseโ€ derives from the Latin fossa meaning โ€œditchโ€.

Hadrian’s Wall, England – https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/hadrians-wall-path/ The Hadrianโ€™s Wall Path is an 84 mile (135 km) long National Trail stretching coast to coast across northern England, from Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne in the east to Bowness-on-Solway in Cumbria on the west coast. The National Trail follows the line of the Hadrianโ€™s Wall UNESCO World Heritage Site, passing through some of the most beautiful parts of England โ€“ from rolling fields and rugged borderlands to the vibrant cities of Newcastle and Carlisle โ€“ with dozens of fascinating museums along the way. An absolute must do, I’ve got the dates pencilled in and plans are afoot.

And then we have the 4 pilgrimage routes I’m still keen to walk. I’ve already walked The Pilgrim’s Way 153 miles (244.8kms) and planning to walk St Cuthbert’s Way and St Oswald’s Way in August, but I’d love to walk some of these others as well. https://www.independent.co.uk/travel/uk/britain-best-pilgrimage-routes-walking-holidays-uk-b485539.html

Old Way Pilgrimage, England : https://britishpilgrimage.org/old-way/ Southampton to Canterbury a 250 mile (400km) 21-28 days journey. This is quite a lengthy pilgrimage and would require careful planning.

St Cuthbert’s Way, Scotland/Northumberland : https://www.stcuthbertsway.info/ 62.5 Miles (100kms) / 7 days : Melrose in Scotland to Holy Island, Northumberland and onto Berwick-on-Tweed I’m planning this for August 2021

St Oswald’s Way, Heavenfield, Northumberland : https://www.stoswaldsway.com/ 97 miles (155.2kms) / 10 days : Heavenfield from/to Holy Island and onto Berwick-on-Tweed I’m planning this for August 2021 and plan to walk the Northumberland Coast as well https://www.visitnorthumberland.com/

Two Saints Way, Chester, Cheshire West : https://britishpilgrimage.org/portfolio/two-saints-way/  92 miles (147.2 kms) / 9 days : Chester to/from Lichfield

Peddars Way, Suffolk to Norfolk : https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/peddars-way-and-norfolk-coast-path/ 49miles (78.4kms) / 5 days : Knettishall Heath Country Park, Suffolk to Holme-next-the-Sea, Norfolk. I’ll tie this in with my plan to walk the entire English Coast (in time) for when I reach Norfolk: Hunstanton to Hopton-on-Sea; Norfolk’s heritage coast 87miles (139.2kms) / 9 days

Pendleton Hill Witches Walk, Lancashire : https://www.historic-uk.com/CultureUK/The-Pendle-Witches/ 4miles (6.4kms) – a one day circular walk

The London Martyrs Way, London : https://britishpilgrimage.org/portfolio/london-martyrs-way/ 8 miles (12.8kms) / 1 day I’m planning on following this route in April 2021 when I walk the Thames Path. I’ll overnight in London enroute and do the walk, then continue.

And walking in Scotland is a must do…

West Highland Way, Milngavie to Fort William, Scotland : https://www.westhighlandway.org/the-route/  96 miles (154 Km)/10 days. I had planned to walk this route in September 2020, but we all know what happened then!!!

Great Glen Way, Fort William to Inverness, Scotland : https://www.scotlandsgreattrails.com/trail/great-glen-way/ 78 miles (125km)/10 days. This was also planned for 2020; a back to back walk of the 2 ways…but you know…Covid ???

The Rob Roy Way, from Drymen to Pitlochry, Scotland : https://www.undiscoveredscotland.co.uk/uswalks/robroyway/index.html  79 miles (125km) / 12 days. Features along the route: Killin. Falls of Dochart. Lochte Tay and Oban lost railway. This walk follows the tracks and paths used by Rob Roy MacGregor in the 17th & 18th centuries as he worked fought and lived the life of Scotland’s most notorious outlaw (I recently read about Rob Roy in Neil Oliver’s book ‘The History of Scotland’).

And then there are these… https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2019/dec/28/10-best-winter-walks-uk-2019

Of course I’d have to do a Welsh walk or two

Aberglaslyn trail from Beddgelert, Snowdonia, Wales : https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/craflwyn-and-beddgelert/trails/cwm-bychan-and-aberglaslyn-pass-walk 5.7 miles (9.1kms) / 1 day Lovely views of snow-capped Snowdon along the way.

Anglesey Coastal Path, Anglesey Island, Wales https://www.visitanglesey.co.uk/en/about-anglesey/isle-of-anglesey-coastal-path/ 130 miles (200km) / 14 days – I’ve long wanted to walk this route as it would add to my islands for Project 101

Offa’s Dyke, Wales : https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/offas-dyke-path/ The 8th century King of Mercia built this mighty earthwork to keep the Welsh out, and it still roughly marks the present England-Wales border, runs coast-to-coast and links Sedbury Cliffs near Chepstow on the banks of the Severn estuary with the coastal town of Prestatyn on the shores of the Irish sea. 177 miles (285km) / 18 days I’ve walked parts of this route when working in Montgomery.

Follow a river or two…

The Thames Path – Thames Barrier to Cricklade ‘the source’ : https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/en_GB/trails/thames-path/ : 184 miles (294.4kms) / 14 days I have this planned for April 2021, but we all know how fickle Covid is, and how much our government dithers, so although I’ve ‘planned’ to do this walk, a long held dream since I lived in London, I’m not holding my breath!!

The River Severn Path, Bristol, Gloucestershire, Powys, Shropshire, S Gloucestershire, Worcestershire : https://www.ldwa.org.uk/ldp/members/show_path.php?path_name=Severn+Way 224 miles (360km) : this would require careful planning and I suspect that I would also walk this over 2/3 sections at different times.

Let’s throw a few islands into the mix:

Isle of Wight, England – https://www.visitisleofwight.co.uk/things-to-do/walking/coastal-path approximately 67 miles (107.2 kms) 5/6 days : I’ve walked quite a bit of this coastal route already, but I’m very keen to actually walk the whole perimeter in one go…over a period of days of course

Anglesey Island, Wales – as above…. https://angleseywalkingholidays.com/routes/ approximately 140 miles (224kms) / 14 days  The Coast Path is a  circular path around the whole Isle of Anglesey. This is a walk I’ve seen other people do on instagram and I’ve saved the photos!! It looks amazing. I’ve only been on this island twice since arriving in the UK and both times it’s been on a bus in-transit from Ireland to England and visa versa…time to put my feet on the ground and walk.

Isle of Harris, Scotland – Hebridean Way https://www.visitouterhebrides.co.uk/hebrideanway/walking Over the course of 156 miles (252km) / 14+ days : the route goes through 10 islands, crosses 6 causeways and includes two stunning ferry journeys. It is a route of astonishing variety โ€“ one day you may be walking on an exquisite deserted beach, with silver shell sand stretching far into the distance. The Hebridean Way walking offers keen hikers a unique opportunity to walk the length of this spectacular archipelago.

And then we have the canals…there are 2,000 miles of canal towpaths you can choose from! Not going to get bored then…these are my 4 favourite routes that I’d love to walk.

Kennett and Avon Canal – London to Bristol : https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/kennet-and-avon-canal 87 miles (139.2kms) / 7 or 8 days This is one of my must do canal routes

Bridgwater and Taunton Canal, Somerset : https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/bridgwater-and-taunton-canal 14 miles/22.5 kms / 1 day

Leeds & Liverpool Canal, England : https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/canal-and-river-network/leeds-and-liverpool-canal 127 miles (203.3kms) 14 days This route includes a World Heritage Site; Saltaire.

Royal Military Canal, Kent : This 28 mile (45km) regal waterway, which was built as a watery defence against Napoleon, runs from Seabrook near Folkestone to Cliff End, near Hastings in Sussex. I’ve walked a small section of this canal near Hythe and it’s beautiful.

How about a viaduct…. or two

Glen Ogle Viaduct, Scotland : http://www.walkscotland.com/route96.htm – I love that the old disused railways have been turned into walking trails. 5 miles/8km I could do this in 2 hours LOL

Avoncliffe Aquaduct on the Kennet & Avon Canal : https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/places-to-visit/avoncliff-aqueduct

Disused railway walkshttps://www.mountainwarehouse.com/community/spring-time/top-15-rail-trails I especially love the look of The Strawberry Line: Somerset and The Cuckoo Trail: East Sussex and then right on my doorstep The Crab and Winkle Way: Kent I may well investigate these as easy walks to do with my grandson.

Monsal Trail, Peak District, England : https://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/visiting/trails/monsaltrail The trail runs along the former Midland Railway line for 8.5 miles between Blackwell Mill, in Chee Dale and Coombs Road, at Bakewell.

High Peak Trail, Peak District, England : https://www.peakdistrict.gov.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0027/58518/PDNP-White-Peak-Trails-Map.pdf17.5 miles (28 kms) 2 days

Tissington Trail, Peak District, England : website as above 13 miles (20.8kms) / 1 days these 2 trails connect at Parsley Hay (that name alone would make me want to do the walk).

And what about these for good measure….https://www.kent-life.co.uk/out-about/places/waterside-walks-in-kent-1-6674762

Lands End to John O’Groats, Britain : I’m still not sure about this walk…..I may just save it till I run out of ideas for long distance walks and pilgrimage. https://www.landsendjohnogroats.info/route/ 1,111 miles/3 months LOL I may just drive it

Other countries:

Tsitsikamma Mountain Trail, southern Cape, South Africa – https://www.tsitsikamma.info/listing/tsitsikamma_mountain_trail Beginning in Natureโ€™s Valley and ending at either the Storms River Bridge or Village 38.9 miles (62.3km) / 6 days.

Kumano Kodo, Japan : https://www.japan-guide.com/e/e4952.html – specifically the Nakahechi trail 19 miles (30 kms) / 2-3 days. I’d love to do this walk in spring over my birthday, then I can see the cherry blossoms too which has been a dream of mine for decades….I may well plan this for 2025 when I visit Australia and New Zealand.

St. Francis Way, Italy : https://www.viadifrancesco.it/en/# 344 miles (550kms) / 28 days a pilgrimage route from Florence through Tuscany, Umbria and Assisi to Rome and its seven pilgrim churches. I’ve purchased this walk via the Conqueror Virtual Challenges and plan to follow this while waking St Cuthbert’s Way & St Oswald’s Way and Hadrian’s Wall in August/September.

NORWAY https://www.afar.com/magazine/the-worlds-northernmost-pilgrimage-route-is-in-norway-and-almost-no-ones-heard/amp?__twitter_impression=true

I’m not sure how I stumbled across this website, but if I ever go walking or camping in Belgium it will be very useful https://welcometomygarden.org/explore Is a brilliant concept. I just wish we had something similar here in the UK.

And finally….”Walk with the dreamers, the believers, the courageous, the cheerful, the planners, the doers, the successful people with their heads in the clouds and their feet on the ground. Let their spirit ignite a fire within you to leave this world better than when you found it…” Wilferd Peterson

I have no idea if I’ll get to do all these walks, but so long as I have life in my legs, I shall give it a damn good go…meanwhile, perhaps my list have given you some ideas of walks to do. I’m going to tie in 4 of my Conqueror Challenges with the 2021 walks I have planned, and I have no doubt that they will come up with a few more that I can add to my itinerary for 2022.

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When I got back from my Throwley booking earlier this month, I decided to take a walk along the beach to get some kms in since I’d completed the Alps to Ocean challenge and started climbing Mt. Everest ๐Ÿฅถ๐Ÿฅถ๐Ÿฅถ๐Ÿ—ป๐Ÿ—ป (also completed while in Salisbury).

BUT!!! To my horror I found that most of the beach has been stripped away by the storm. As far as the eye can see, used to be beach…its now mostly stones and rocks and the sand has been stripped right down to the chalk bedrock. I genuinely could not believe my eyes. I can see just beneath the waves there’s still some beach, but not sure how far it extends.

The beach where I used to take my grandson to play is now just a rocky morass.

To give you an idea of the power of the sea, this great big chunk of very degraded concrete was washed up and dumped onto the beach almost halfway up towards the Royal Pavilion
Quite awesome to see the pure chalk bottom though…just think….this is billions of sea creatures solidified into chalk from millions of years ago.

Unreal, the power of nature. I’m saddened too because it’s one of my favourite places to walk. But a local said the wind and sea will likely blow it all back when the winds blow from another direction. Meanwhile…๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ˜”๐Ÿ˜” no beach walking๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ๐Ÿšถ๐Ÿปโ€โ™€๏ธ for me atm, I’ll have to try catch it when the tide is out.

Meanwhile, I shall have to head southward and visit Pegwell Bay again.

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My time in Salisbury is now over, but fear not I shall return – when I start travelling with my grandson, Salisbury, Old Sarum and Avebury are on my very extensive list of ‘places to go on Granny and Jamie’s Adventures’. But I couldn’t leave without sharing what is, next to the Cathedral, the best aspect of the city…..The River Avon, in Salisbury, Wiltshire, such a beautiful space.

Synonymous with Shakespeare and Stratford Upon Avon, the Avon rises east of the town of Chipping Sodbury in South Gloucestershire, just north of the village of Acton Turville.

The river itself runs from a spring in Naseby in Northamptonshire, through Leicestershire, Warwickshire, Worcestshire and finally to the River Severn in Gloucestershire, passing through Bath and Bristol, the last big city on its route and beneath the famous Clifton Suspension Bridge.

The River Avon is an exceptionally meandery river with lots of small tributaries and channels breaking away, leaving hundreds of little islands in its wake enroute to the sea…I tried to follow it on Google maps but gave up ๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„๐Ÿ˜„

Running a somewhat circular path, the river drains east and then south through Wiltshire. Its first main settlement is the village of Luckington, two miles (3 km) inside the Wiltshire border, and then on to Sherston.

At Malmesbury it joins up with its first major tributary, the Tetbury Avon, which rises just north of Tetbury in Gloucestershire.
This tributary is known locally as the Ingleburn, which in Old English means ‘English river’. Here, the two rivers almost meet but their path is blocked by a rocky outcrop of the Cotswolds, almost creating an island for the ancient hilltop town of Malmesbury to sit on. Upstream of this confluence the river is sometimes referred to as the ‘River Avon (Sherston Branch)’ to distinguish it from the Tetbury Branch.
Information ref wikipedia with thanks.

In Salisbury the river twists and winds within sight of the cathedral as it rushes past ancient inns, Norman churches, alongside meadows green and watery alive with wildflowers, butterflies, bees and swans, it splits into a multitude of channels and smaller tributaries around the city, with 2 distinct channels in the city rushing furiously through the millrace at the Maltings then flows fast beneath a 15th century bridge; Crane Bridge

The Maltings
Crane Bridge

Pretty much wherever you are, you are within a short walk of the river.

The chalk soils around the River Avon filter and purify the water, making the river a special place for wildlife. The Avon and its tributaries make up one of the largest chalk river systems in England, and is a source of clean drinking water.

Although I’ve been to Salisbury a few times, its always been a short visit and mostly spent in the cathedral or at Old Sarum (which is a fantastic place btw – a must visit), but I’ve never had the time to just meander and explore. Its been fantastic. I shall of course return someday in the future….

Meanwhile, here’s a short video showing scenes of the River Avon in Salisbury

I did a lot of walking during my breaks, through Churchill Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, and along the many and varied riverside walks in the city…I went as far afield as the area called Broken Bridges and had a walk along the River Nadder, blissful tranquility, a space of enchantment

Crossing the bridge towards Broken Bridges
River Nadder, so clear you can see the bottom

And that’s it ….goodbye Salisbury, hope your cathedral is open next time I visit, I’d like to see the Magna Carta again ๐Ÿ˜Š๐Ÿ˜Š

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