Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘walking solo for women’

Stage 6 – Staines-Upon-Thames to Windsor 11.06.2021 – 20.46 kms – 6 hours 57 minutes – 39,770 steps – elevation 73 meters

After a really hectic week of walking and taking my grandson on outings, plus a 19 km jaunt along the Saxon Shore Way and a brief visit to Sheppey Island, on Thursday 10th June I impulsively decided to walk another 2 stages of the Thames Path! I had planned on going up to London on Saturday 12th for Trooping the Colour, but fortunately I thought to check their website, only to discover that due to the continued lockdown, they had decided to hold the ceremony in Windsor again this year. And at that moment I decided to do the next 2 stages of the Thames Path; Staines-Upon-Thames to Windsor on the 11th and Windsor to Maidenhead on the 12th. Change of plans…

Walking the Saxon Shore Way
Walking the Saxon Shore Way

I quickly rejigged my calendar and rearranged my weekend plans, then a mad scramble to book accommodation ensued and at literally just on 9pm Thursday night I secured an Airbnb booking close to The Long Walk. I hastily packed my backpack with the absolute minimum requirements and prepared some food for the next day. Hoorah! I was off on the next 2 stages of my adventure. As mentioned in Stage 5, it was taking longer and longer to reach my starting point (the end point of my previous stage) and made more sense to stay overnight on day 1 and pick up again on day 2. The idea this time was to walk Stage 6: Staines to Windsor, stay overnight, watch as much of Trooping the Colour as I could see

after which I set off at approximately 1pm for Maidenhead, planning/hoping to arrive there relatively early for the long trip home. However, due to faffing around at the Three Store in Windsor for 2 hours, I missed the earlier train! LOL

The plans of mice and (wo)men….do not always work to plan! But that’s what I love about my life…I can change my plans any time I like 🙂

I left home early to get the 09:25 train as advised previously by the station attendant, and travelled to Staines via Vauxhall. Here things went a little awry…trains were either late, cancelled altogether or didn’t stop at the station. Total chaos reigned. Eventually sometime after 12noon, I finally boarded a train bound for Weybridge, stopping at Staines and arrived at just after 1pm. I made haste towards the river, reaching the railway bridge at 13:11 (now 34 minutes behind schedule!)

Staines Railway Bridge

Staines was the end of the tidal Thames until 1812 when the downstream locks were built. Staines Railway Bridge was built in 1856 and painted with yellow stripes in 1995 to stop swans from flying into it. ref Cicerone guide book.

Following the same route as when I first reached Staines on the 24th April at the end of Stage 5, I stopped to photograph the houses by the riverside that I passed at that time

So pretty, and there’s Staines Bridge in the distance
Reminds me of Bermuda, so gorgeous and a fab view

Then a quick photoshoot (of course 😁😁) of all the interesting sculptures and the London Stone

The London Stone

The London Stone marks the end of the City of London’s river jurisdiction (1197-1857) and although it has been moved a few times in the area, it has stood in Staines-Upon-Thames since 1285. The Lord Mayor of London made an annual visit to touch the stone with a sword. (the London Stone at Staines, built in 1285 marked the customs limit of the Thames and the City of London’s jurisdiction – the Corporation acquired these rights from the Crown in 1197 in the reign of King Richard I and held them until 1857 when the Thames Conservancy was formed).

After saying hello to the bridge, I meandered along the north bank and found a shady spot opposite Church Island to have my lunch.

Perfect view, Church Island to my right and the opposite bank where I’ll soon be walking

It was so relaxing just sitting watching the river and the world go by, that I could have stayed all day.

Top pic behind me. Bottom pic looking towards Church Island

I didn’t tarry too long, time was passing and so I set off back to the bridge

Thames Path Over Bridge – sounds like the title of a book 😄

Following the instructions in the guide book I crossed over to the opposite bank and went in search of a City of London coal tax post, which the author said was opposite the London stone…it wasn’t…I used up 2.92 kms and 30 minutes searching for it before giving up and continuing my walk – but not before photographing a couple of items that could possibly have been it, but weren’t….

#notthecoaltaxpost

I did eventually come across what I suspect is what he was talking about….but it wasn’t opposite the London Stone!! it was in fact, a way further upstream of the bridge on the south bank, whereas the London Stone is downstream of the bridge on the north bank. Hmmm

I was really excited to be walking along this section and looking forward to visiting the Magna Carta memorial…which I thought was on an island but wasn’t. It was actually very easy to visit once I knew how!! LOL As with all things you read in the guide books, the reality is very different to what you imagine it would be like. But that was still to come…also a lot further along than I imagined.

I would also be passing from Surrey into Berkshire on this stage, the 4th county since I started my journey at 1. Erith in Kent 2. Greater London 3. Surrey and 4. Berkshire. Of course there are a greater number of boroughs that I passed through.

Even though Staines is quite far from London, especially if you follow the course of the river, there is still a tremendous amount of history alongside the banks, and as I had discovered at Walton-Upon-Thames, the Vikings travelled the distance to plunder the abbeys. In 871 Vikings, from the word vikingr meaning raider or explorer, attacked Reading before making their way along the Thames to London at the end of the year. Setting off from Staines across the fields they sacked Chertsey Abbey, setting fire to the buildings and stealing valuables. It is said that Abbot Beocca, Presbyter Ethor and 90 monks were murdered, however, it is unclear whether the deaths all occurred in the 871 raid, or whether the number is a total from three attacks on the abbey. ref Chertsey Museum

The brick path from the bridge to the river’s edge is lovely and quite decorative. The path from here onwards is also very rural with lots of beautiful green trees and rich undergrowth and I passed through many shady copses and open fields, as well as alongside cultivated gardens that ran right down to the riverside.

The paved pathway leading to the river and the Thames Path
Onwards….Windsor, I’m on my way!!

Crossing a lovely arched bridge over a little inlet

You can now see Church Island on the right from a different angle – LOVE that house!

a minute later I plunged into a world of leafy green foliage and shade.

Blissful walking environment

This continued for a few minutes and lo and behold….the City of London Coal Tax post…at least I think it was! I did a bit of research and found this on wikipedia Coaltax posts are boundary marker posts found in southern England. They were erected in the 1860s and form an irregular loop between 12 and 18 miles from London to mark the points where taxes on coal were due to the Corporation of London. There were originally around 280 posts of which around 210 remain. So yes, I do believe this was (possibly) the coal tax post…

Coal Tax post me thinks!

The path continued with the river in close proximity through leafy green glades, past islands, across bridges, past creeks and canal boats. Tall trees abounded and provided the most glorious shade as the gravel path wound it’s way; turning this way and that way (reminded me of the nursery rhyme that my grandson loves)

the bridge before the bridge…the hum of traffic from the M25 was already quite loud

I soon reached and passed beneath Runneymede Bridge and the M25….the traffic noise was astounding and jarred on the senses. I did though enjoy the image presented by the architecture of the underpass.

I saw an information board that told me about a Bronze Age Settlement that has been discovered in 1975 during development of the M25 motorway. Fragments of pottery dating to 750BC were spotted by local archaeologists. Before the Runnymede Bridge excavations, little was known about late prehistoric South East England prior to the Iron Age. From the artefacts discovered, it is clear that the river played a fundamental role in the lives of our Bronze Age ancestors. Excavation has shown that the site includes a large number of post holes and a wattle and daub spread including a double row of in-situ pile driven timber uprights forming a river frontage. The finds recovered include part of a spearhead and socketed axe fragment, pins, ‘buttons’, rings, possible pommel, two pairs of tweezers, amber beads, spindle whorls, a loom weight and worked bone objects. This bronze assemblage was dated to the 9th-8th century BC.

now just a field of wild flowers…but haunted by the spirits of our ancestors

Absolutely fascinating! It gave me goosebumps to look out over the field of wild grasses and flowers and try to imagine the people who lived there so many centuries before. Magic

A short few paces on and I passed the first of the locks on this section; Bell Weir Lock – a pretty little island. The lock is named after its very first lock keeper, Charles Bell, who was employed by the Thames Navigation Commissioners in 1917. He earned a good wage of £4 per month, but for this he had to provide his own residence. He already owned a house close by, so he had no problems. Charles fought in the first World War but sadly, he didn’t return. His wife was believed to have taken over the job. Several years ago a rare bald eagle was sighted here. At the same time an Irish landowner had lost one and discovered it was the same bird! He travelled to Bell Weir, caught the bird and took it home to Ireland.

Bell Weir Lock

Imagine my delight when I spotted the fantastic Magna Carta mural on the wall of the Lockmaster’s house – brought back many wonderful memories of being a part of the Magna Carta flotilla from Datchet via Windsor to Runneymede meadows back in 2015! Again thanks to my very special friend Joe Lane who invited me along to join them on the Trinity Tide. A magical day and a great honour to be part of the celebrations. I was in a daze of delight the whole day!

Magna Carta

Prominent in my thoughts the whole day was how I was going to reach the Magna Carta Memorial – I could be forgiven for being confused when looking at the picture board!! It caused just a little bit (a lot) of stress…in fact I thought I had bypassed it altogether! but no….if I had but studied the board a little closer, I would have seen that the memorial was still to come and very accessible.

Across the river I spotted a really beautiful building, looked like a hotel really, and what appeared to be a weir with probably a pump house….but no matter how much searching I’ve done on google maps and the web, I am quite unable to find out what it is….intriguing and more than a little frustrating to not know what it is!.

what is this place?

As with the Stage 5, there are some stunning houses on very large properties along this section of the river. I saw one in particular that I just loved!

oh my word…how much I love this house

Near the Runnymede Boatyard I saw a number of quirky canal boats moored alongside the banks…absolutely gorgeous. Clearly they are more permanent residents if the gardens are anything to go by. They provided a stunning array of colours and designs. Apparently there is a mile of these boats along this stretch. Woww.

It looks so quaint and quirky, each boat completely different to the next
how different a lifestyle this must be…away from the noise of civilization, but close to your neighbour!

Here the path changes again and runs alongside the river across from ‘The Island’ which according to google maps is not a complete island….there were however some gorgeous houses that fronted the river…wow. That side of the river is Wraysbury. It looks really lovely.

I soon reached the Runnymede Pleasure Grounds and rather than taking a shortcut across the field to the statue of Queen Elizabeth II, I followed the path as it rounded a rather large bend in the river. One thing for sure that I’m learning about this river; The Thames, is that it is anything but straight!!

Runnymead Pleasure Grounds

It is an incredibly beautiful stretch (kind of a horse-shoe shape) and by and by I reached the QEII statue. I loved the history timelines engraved on the flagstones and endeavoured to photograph them all…hah!

Looks more like Princess Anne than Queen Elizabeth II
the dates freak me out LOL
Magna Carta – meaning: Great Charter. I love how French sounds so exotic, but translated into English…so simple (boring LOL)

I’m not entirely sure that the essence of the Magna Carta is upheld today…

leaving Runnymead Pleasure Grounds behind me

Runnymede – I was getting closer to the memorial, but still for the life of me I could not see it. I didn’t dare use my google maps function on my phone coz it chews battery life, and even though I had a spare charger, I have a fear of losing battery power….so I just carried on and hope for the best. I needn’t have worried.

If you haven’t yet been to the Magna Carta Memorial and you happen to be walking the Thames Path, and wondering where the memorial is and how to get there…it is a lot easier than I thought.

I got really excited when I saw this sign!!

When the barons gathered here in 1215 to meet King John on Runnymede, they had to ford the river at Staines – the first bridge was built 7 years later. ref Cicerone guidebook.

Across the river I could see a small section of the Ankerwycke Abbey. But sadly not the Yew Tree…I’ll have to go back and approach from the other side of the river some other time.

the ruins of Ankerwyke Abbey

Meanwhile….I was getting closer to achieving my dream of visiting the Magna Carta Memorial….6 years is a long wait!

And finally, there it was. And so easy to get to LOL after all my stress of missing it.

Simply cross the road at the traffic lights by the National Trust buildings and a short walk across the fields and there it was

cross here 🙂
follow this path

It was ever so worth the extra 2.5 km walk there and back. I met a delightful couple who were visiting the site, and we ended up chatting for well over 30 minutes while they asked questions, and I regaled them with snippets from my many journeys around the UK on the Camino. The lady of the couple said she was really keen to take up with long distance walking but didn’t want to go on her own….and I’m like “OMG that’s my ideal scenario!” She was already a member of Ramblers, but wanted to try something a little less crowded. She happened to say that one of the things with walking in a big group, is that you have to keep to their schedule…and that is exactly why I walk on my own. If I want to go off on a tangent to explore or spend an hour in a particular spot…then I am answerable to no-one.

Back to the memorial….it was everything I imagined and more. I got very emotional standing there and thought of my friend Joe (he has no idea just how very grateful I am that he invited me along, it was certainly one of the highlights of my life in the UK).

The Magna Carta Memorial – Symbol of Freedom Under Law

I took my time to read the information boards at the gate, walked around the memorial in a clockwise direction and mounted the steps to read the engravings. Absolutely thrilling.

enroute to the Magna Carta memorial is this amazing oak tree planted in 1987 with soil from Jamestown, Virginia

From there, and on the way back to the road I first stopped to admire the sculpture in the field; the 12 chairs depicting the barons at their meeting with King John…they are terrific

a lovely ensemble of decorative chairs representing the barons

And then I visited the J F Kennedy Memorial which is beautiful and worth the fairly steep climb.

a tiny piece of America in England

On my way back to the gates I noticed a lot of yellow ribbons tied to the branches of some trees, fluttering in the wind. Intrigued I walked over for a closer look, and as with the memorial on the Albert Embankment on Stage 2 through London, my heart contracted and I was close to tears. Each ribbon depicts someone who has died from Covid-19. Oh my gosh, so so sad…and really heart-wrenching to see the hundreds of ribbons each with a name and a date. I saw a ribbon lying on the ground all spattered with mud, so picked it up and dusted it off as best I could, then tied it back onto the branch. These memorials really bring home the reality of the staggering number of people who have died since March 2020.

incredibly poignant, and a real whack to the heart

Feeling pensive, and grateful for my health, I meandered over to the National Trust tearoom, only to find them locking the door!! LOL my luck., I should have stopped there first…but then I will have missed that lovely couple I chatted to earlier. Cést la vie. I used the facilities instead and hope I could find some water somewhere…it was another hot day and I had already used up all my supplies.

Back at the river, at the boatyard, as I walked past two gentlemen sat on the riverside, I asked if they knew where I could top up my water…what a gentleman….he gave me a bottle of water 🙂 I could have kissed him…but then he might have turned into a frog! I was delighted to spot a wee bunny in a field to my left…I had to backtrack to get a photo to show my grandson, and amazed that the bunny actually stayed put and allowed me to snap away… I thought for sure it would bound off into the undergrowth at my approach. But the fence…

Boom! Suddenly I was in Old Windsor. whoo hoo!! time 16:47 and I had been walking and exploring for nearly 4 hours. I had wanted to visit the old church mentioned in the guide book, but frankly I was quite tired by then, so decided to leave it for another time.

Old Windsor

The first Windsor, what we now know as old Windsor, grew up just to the south west of this lock. It was a fortified, national centre for the Saxons. Edward the Confessor had his palace only 3oo meters from here. After the Norman Conquest, King William continued to use Kingsbury, its church and surrounding buildings as a council place and hunting centre. The name Windsor may derive from ‘windles ora’ meaning a bank with a windlass.

The path ran right alongside the river here and there were some splendid boats moored up on the opposite bank of the river.

Dark gloomy clouds hung heavy on the horizon and I hoped that I wasn’t going to be subjected to a shower (not yet anyway).

I’ve said this before….and it’s worth repeating, the Thames Path is varied!!

Check this cute little canalboat…in the background on the opposite bank is a capsized boat. Poor old thing. I saw quite a few dilapidated and abandoned boats alongside the river bank. I often wonder why they have just been left there to rot.

Up and down, around and switchback, the path is a bit like a rollercoaster, and took me through some beautiful green areas.

Suddenly I reached Old Windsor Lock…getting closer to ‘new’ Windsor!!

Walking the Thames Path
Old Windsor Lock – look at the diagram of the river LOL twisting and winding

Continuing on my way I passed what I mistakenly thought was the Albert Bridge – it was in fact Ham Lane leading to Ham Island, which on closer inspection via google maps appears to have been created by another cut-through to avoid a large bend in the river… another section to try and walk at some stage then! Apparently I was walking in an area called Saint George’s Farm – okayyy, cool!

I walked over to the middle of the bridge to capture the scene upstream and downstream – looks the same either way.

This section of the path wound it’s way through shoulder height grasses and wild flowers – a home for the bees and butterflies. Magical.

I was just about to sit down at this bench when a little black and white spaniel came bounding out of the underbrush trailing all manner of greenery and nearly gave me heart-failure LOL It bounded off along the path and joined an elderly gentleman I had seen walking ahead of me – one of very few people I encountered on the path.

I spent a few minutes at the bench relaxing, enjoying some welcome tea and sandwich and soaking up the tranquillity…birdsong the only sounds.

Albert Bridge. Here I had to cross over to the north bank once again because her Maj owns the next section all the way into town…so there! Prince Albert’s Walk m’dear!

I stopped at the top of the bridge to photograph the river, it’s so beautiful and looks so tranquil. Just around that bend, and another larger loop in the river, but not too far upstream is Windsor Castle and my bed for the night. Hoorah!

Around that bend…and the next 😉

Down and around and under the bridge I was now on the north side of the river. The bridge design is really pretty.

Albert Bridge

After crossing beneath the bridge the path meandered along past overgrown edges, a veritable plethora of plants. Over the fence a farmers field edged with a corridor of wild flowers for birds, bees and butterflies and all our wonderful wildlife that need this kind of habitat to thrive. Poppies waved their bright red heads, a stunning palette against the multi-colours of green.

In the distance I could see the red tiled roof of the farmhouse of Southlea Farm (Slough) … I’m nearing Datchet now.

On my left a thick line of shrubs covered in spider webs…a bit like a dusty cloak. I’ve always been intrigued by these webs so did a bit of research…as it turns out, it’s caterpillars that build these webs. Who knew 🤔🤔

Soon the path turned away from the river, although along this short section I couldn’t really see the river anyway the undergrowth and overgrowth was so thick…but I knew it was there. Just before the B3021, the path took a sharp left (do not go through the gate said the guidebook, but turn left) and so I walked into Datchet.

It was horrible, lots of traffic, a very narrow pathway, overgrown hedges almost pushing you to step onto the roadway.

I ended up skirting a very very narrow verge since I hadn’t been able to cross the road. The guidebook didn’t say anything about crossing over so I carried on assuming the sidewalk would continue….it didn’t. Fortunately no big trucks came past and I managed to reach safety without mishap.

looking back – not fun to walk on what turned out to be the wrong side of the road…but I got through

A brief excursion onto The Green, which was not on the official Thames Path, but it looked pretty and offered brief respite from the traffic.

From there I did cross over the road, only to have to cross back over again not much further on. The guidebook could be updated here with more information. As it is, I just navigated by my nose until I spotted a direction marker pointing me in the right direction.

check out that traffic….I had to squeeze my way across

Along a short path, across a wee bridge alongside the Dachet Golf Club and once again I was plunged into a world of green, the traffic now barely a whisper.

Across the river, now visible again, I could see her Maj’s secret hideaway LOL

Do you think Her Majesty hides away here sometimes?

Anddd another flight of stairs..this time onto Victoria Bridge, and once again I returned to the south bank of the Thames. Looking back downstream from the top of the bridge the difference in vegetation between the two sides of the river is quite remarkable. On the left: an overgrown jungle of trees, shrubbery, flowers and grasses, and to my right her Maj’s perfectly manicured lawns, the trees marching in an orderly row evenly paced as they disappear around the bend. Someone needs to tell herself that we need wildlife corridors for the birds and the bees!

Her Majesty’s Lawns vs Nature

Hoorah!!! My first glimpse of Windsor Castle! From Victoria Bridge

I followed the directions in the guide book, although it wasn’t really necessary…but

Then things took a turn for the worse…actually not really, it just felt like that at the time. By this time I was tired and footsore, desperate for a cup of tea and in no mood to be redirected around construction sites. How inconsiderate of them to go and put up fencing and stuff.. LOL grumpy granny was out her box!!

Home Park….and here I had to force my way through a jungle of overgrowth my panga swiping left and right to forge a way through….LOL sorry my mind went off on a tangent there. As you may well imagine, my vocabulary once again took a turn for the worse…if I were a witch, workmen would be dropping around me like flies! Turns out they’re repairing Black Potts Ait bridge.. or something like that.

Diversion is the spice (chilli 🌶) of life

Once past the fencing I made my way diagonally across Home Park to the river and met up with the Thames Path once again. Very pretty along this section…so much green and so tranquil.

I walked beneath the railway line just as a train rumbled past. So glad I don’t have to rush to catch a train home tonight!

still going in the right direction!

I passed Romney Lock, but from the state of it I’d say it’s not in much use anymore.

Romney Lock

A metalled road soon took over from the lovely gravel pathway and hey ho, back in the urban jungle once again.

And there just ahead of me!!!! Wheyyy heyy heyyy my next sighting of Windsor Castle!! Hoorah.

Relax Lizzie, I’m almost there, put the kettle on sweetie 🙂 So exciting to finally see the towers of the castle. But first I had to traverse this metalled road and pass some ugly industrial sites/sights!!

The path suddenly veered away to the right and thankfully I was once again surrounded by green with a small canal to my right. After looking at google maps I can see that it’s a small cut-away from the main river that splits around Romney Lock.

Walking alongside the Thames (Thameside) I could see Windsor Bridge in the distance…not long to go now!

Windsor Bridge in the distance
Stopping to look back from whence I had come…the railway bridge in the distance

Lookie lookie!!!! What can I see? Without further ado, I was there…in Windsor. Glimpses of the castle as I walked towards the bridge

Knock knock! I’m here…..journey’s end! Hoorah. Windsor Bridge: designed by Charles Hollis and opened in 1824. Freed from tolls by the action of Joseph Taylor in 1898. Closed to vehicles in 1970. How sensible.

Windsor Bridge

Just across the bridge is Eton where our bonnie Princes William and Harry attended college. I mean why not? Granny’s pad was just up the road…makes sense really.

Looking towards Eton

I passed this really gorgeous old building on my way in…

Bell and The Dragon – serving food since the 11th century

And still light enough to have a bit of an explore and and ice-cream – come on! you knew there would be an ice-cream at the end of this! Actually, I asked a chap walking by if he would please take a photo of me with my ice-cream, in front of the castle… as you know, my selfies are not that good. But I’m not quite sure he got the idea of a good photo…and much of the pavement, my feet and legs are in the pic, but not much of the top of the castle. Oh well. I did a selfie anyway…rubbish as always. I might concede defeat and get one of those gadgets that allows you to take selfies when you have short arms. Oh wait! I have one. My daughter bought it for me. I hate it! LOL

if I look like I’m grimacing, it’s because I was – come on already, just take the photo!!

Windsor Castle. As castles go, this one is superb! Talk about intimidating! But it’s also beautiful and I love it! A quick few pics and then it was time to find my Airbnb.

Windsor Castle : Windsor Castle is the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world. Founded by William the Conqueror in the 11th century, it has since been the home of 39 monarchs. Today The Queen spends most of her private weekends at the Castle. In fact she was home this weekend for her Official Birthday Parade and to meet President Joe Biden and Dr Jill Biden.

I had messaged my host ahead to say that I would be there about 7pm, as it turns out I got there just on 8pm! Usually when I get to a ‘new’ place I always check in and then go out and explore…but not tonight! My fabulous host made me a much appreciated cup of tea and I had my cup-a-soup and a slice of bread. Then sat in her garden for 30 minutes or so just to unwind, after which I bade them goodnight, had a shower and fell into bed….absolutely knackered!

Another fantastic day! Gosh I do love walking. Even though my feet ache and I feel like I’ve been run over by a truck by day’s end, I love to discover new places, sights and scenes. Once again I had it all; fantastic weather, wonderful scenery – albeit very different to stage 5, pretty bridges, a few locks, and a historic and world-famous castle at the end of the day…and an ice-cream. I am just a bit put-out though…Lizzie forgot I was coming and made other arrangements. So rude!

What a wonderful day!!

May I add as a caveat to what I said about walking on my own…the only exceptions I’m prepared to make are walking with two of my younger sisters who are both seasoned long-distance walkers/cyclists/hikers and understand the dynamics.

My favourite travel quote

If you missed the beginning of my journey, I started Stage 1 from Erith

I continued my journey with Stage 7 on 12th June…post hopefully to follow soon 😉🚶‍♀️🚶‍♀️

Read Full Post »

Stage 1 (b) : Thames Barrier to Greenwich 17.04.2021 – 9.21 kms – 2 hours 34 min – 15,763 steps – elevation: 32 meters

Leaving the Thames Barrier at just on 15:13 I made my way through the covered walkway, the barrier to my right. Along the concrete wall of the walkway they have noted some interesting facts and show the level of the river with the barrier closed, on 2 particular dates. Further along is a carved mural, ‘A Profile of the River Thames’, showing the many names of towns, bridges, locks and places of interest from sea to source along the River Thames with the relevant elevation above sea-level. I tried to photograph as many as I could. It was so cool to see the names of places I had already passed and the names of places still to come….most of which as I’ve mentioned in previous posts, I’ve already encountered. After Staines the elevation increases quite substantially.

LOL I just had a look for some information on Google maps, and the barrier is described as “Giant moveable dam with a visitor centre”. OMG seriously. Google you need to get educated!! If you go to wikipedia you will see that: The Thames Barrier is one of the largest movable flood barriers in the world… not a ruddy dam!! The Thames Barrier spans 520 metres across the River Thames near Woolwich, and protects 125 square kilometres of central London from flooding caused by tidal surges. Ref http://www.gov.uk

The Thames Barrier - walking the Thames Path
The Thames Barrier – walking the Thames Path

I soon left the tunnel and the first of many markers along the route told me that it was 4.5miles (7.2kms) to the Greenwich Foot Tunnel. The barrier really is a remarkable construction. A couple more photos of the barrier as it receded into the distance and my history, and all too soon I reached the Tarmac Charlton Asphalt Plant. Ugly industrial plant with unattractive fencing and lots of metal shutes jutting out into the river. This is a very industrialised section of the path; much like downstream near Erith.

walking the thames path
Ugly concrete works next to the Thames Path

The Thames Barrier was now 1 mile behind me and Cutty Sark 2.25miles ahead. Whoo hoo, not that far. But I was beginning to flag, my feet were starting to make uncomfortable noises and I still had the O2 peninsula to traverse.

walking the thames path
Well marked route – you cannot get lost

Along this section of the river too there are a lot of information boards providing snippets of history and information about the area in relation to the river

walking the thames path
Story board telling you more about the area and features of the path

I passed the ever so pretty and welcome Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park; a tiny piece of watery paradise. I strolled along a couple of the boardwalks for a closer look and then…onwards

walking the thames path
Greenwich Peninsula Ecology Park – a delightful haven of nature

Occasionally I stopped to look back at how far I had come. Looking ahead I could see the Greenwich Cable Car structure in the distance…and whilst I walked debated the folly/fun of stopping for a ride across the river. When I got closer to the entrance, the queue of people waiting to get on decided me – another time. I’ve ridden it a few times in the past, so not missing out on anything. But it would have been lovely to share an aerial view of the river with you.

walking the thames path
as I got closer I toyed with the idea of having a ride….I didn’t LOL

A very well marked path

walking the thames path
useful to know the distances to the next place

I could see Anthony Gormley’s ‘Quantum Cloud’ in the distance getting closer with each step. That man sure does get around, but at least it’s not another image of his naked body and bits!! LOL

walking the thames path
Quantum Cloud – Anthony Gormley

I passed some more storyboards showing a timeline of the history of the river from 8,000 BC till more current times, and included interesting snippets of events worldwide that occurred during the same period. It’s fascinating to read these boards and I wished I had more time to stop and read them all, but the clock was moving forward at a pace, so I had to up my pace if I wanted to actually get to Greenwich in time for a train to get me home before midnight!!

There are a lot of new residential developments in Greenwich and as I neared the O2 I passed a very large complex of new (to me) high-rise buildings, in front of one of which was a stunning sculpture of a Mermaid and what looks like a sea-dragon wrapped a round her, but on closer inspection appears to be the sea rolled around her form. It’s absolutely beautiful. Apparently it is one of Damien Hurst’s sculptures and is located on The Tide (a free-to-visit five-kilometre elevated walkway) – and an improvement on some of the stuff he’s done in the past.

walking the thames path
absolutely stunning sculpture

Soon I reached the O2 arena and had a quick look around. Not much has changed here except that the fountains were not playing. I stopped briefly to photograph a couple of the flagstones that are inscribed with information like: 4282 km to the North Pole – Across England sea and ice. Or By the time you have read this the earth will have spun you 1450m.

Walking the Thames path
By the time you have read this…

And At 11:06hrs on the 17th May each year the mast shadow is centred on this stone. Of course I had to photograph ‘The Mast’ too; a tall swirling spike steel sculpture about which I have not been able to find ANY information regardless of my numerous Google searches. If you happen to know…please leave a comment. Also, I’m not entirely sure it is The Mast, but since I couldn’t see anything else that looked like a mast…

walking the thames path
I wonder what they’ll do if the earth shifts on it’s axis? move the stone?

I could see there was a line of people climbing the O2 which reminded me of when I climbed the O2 some years ago – a gift from my daughter, it was amazing. I wonder if I could still climb it today LOL I’d love to take my grandson up.

walking the thames path
Climbing the O2 – a brilliant outing if you have a head for heights and strong legs LOL

I then passed a really weird looking sculpture ‘Liberty Grip’ by Gary Hume. It was while researching this particular image that I found a site listing all the sculptures that these sculptures are part of: The Line – London’s first dedicated contemporary art walk. It looks amazing and I shall have to visit again and do the walk (of course). I’ve included the link here if you are interested in finding out more about these sculptures on the Greenwich Peninsula

walking the thames path
there are plenty of sculptures along the Thames Path, some fab some weird

The Thames Path along these sections is brilliant; well paved, clean, attractive, lots of beautiful buildings, green lawns, trees and tidal terraces alongside the edges of the river – I found this really interesting link if you’re keen to find out more Estuary Edges along the River Thames. It seems that the powers that be are starting to take more care of the river and the wildlife that inhabit it.

walking the thames path
much needed regeneration of the Thames Banks and river
walking the thames path
you can see the reeds beds to the right. It’s really interesting how they install them

Another decorative National Cycle Route marker

walking the thames path
I love these cycle route markers…I have a whole collection of them photographed

Not long after I left the O2 Arena area I came upon an open tarmac area next to the Greenwich Peninsula Golf Range, and congregated thereupon was a massive group of cyclists, of varying ages; teens to tweens I’m guessing. All very boisterous, crowding and shoving and shouting, and there in the middle were 2 young girls in skimpy outfits doing a ‘Grease’ scenario, right down to the colourful handkerchiefs… and at the far end a row of cyclists lined up – I chuckled to myself as I made my way through the throng, heckled every step of the way for not observing their desire to race along the pathway, and not getting out the way. Sorry boys, places to go, things to see.

walking the thames path
Grease is the word LOL

The next Thames Path marker told me that I was now 1.25 miles from the Cutty Sark and the Foot Tunnel and 6 miles from Tower Bridge – I was tempted to keep going to Tower Bridge, but it was late and by now I was seriously footsore.

walking the thames path
Tower Bridge 6 m! should I? or maybe not!

The path twists and turns as it winds it’s snaking way through all manner of landscape. If nothing else, the path offers a varied landscape.

walking the thames path
shared space; walkers, cyclists, joggers, runners….and a narrow corridor..

I saw someone fishing, very comfortably too I might add from a bench, and just around a leafy green corner I spotted a young woman sitting on an open space just over the fence and on the banks of the river…it looked so tranquil and perfect that I could have happily joined her. A terrific place to sit and read a book.

walking the thames path
the perfect place to chill and read a book

And yet another variation, around every corner a surprise

walking the thames path
I love it when the path is wide and well-paved

Looking back I could see the O2 Arena now some distance behind me and across the river the Towers of Babel aka Canary Wharf.

walking the thames path
looking back is an optical illusion. The O2 looks close as the crow flies

And thennnnn…whoo hoo – Greenwich!!! I had made it. I reached the Cutty Sark Pub at 17:03:54 🙂 And now it was getting really busy. People thronged the path, now a wide boulevard rather than a path, strollers, dog-walkers, parents with strollers, kiddies running around screaming, joggers, cyclists (trying to weave their way through the throng), all out enjoying the lovely afternoon sunshine. It was truly one of London’s best days.

walking the thames path
whoo hoo not far to go now. Love the old buildings in Greenwich – just look at that date
walking the thames path
lovely to see so many people out again

I passed a brick wall with some intriguing sculptures telling a story about a boy named Sam – I did some research and found that it’s ‘A Thames Tale’ : Wall art by Amanda Hinge in Greenwich. It’s really lovely and I wish I’d had more time to read it all.

I then passed the diminutive Trinity Hospital with the towering Greenwich Electric Power Station just behind it. Apparently named the ‘Heavenly Twins’ for the two great chimneys…although there are in fact 4 chimneys.

walking the thames path
nearly 5.10pm and look it’s still light…best time of the year to walk

I meandered along a narrow cobbled pathway between old brick houses; looking for all the world like I had stepped back in time to the Victorian ages. You could just imagine the gas lamps flickering and fluttering at night in the wind. Did I ever say how much I love Greenwich?

walking the thames path
Imagine living on a street that looks like it’s straight out of Mary Poppins
walking the thames path
colourful painting on the Trafalgar Tavern wall

I soon passed The Trafalgar Tavern and a statue of himself; Horatio Nelson, hero of the Battle of Gibraltar. The Battle of Trafalgar took place on 21 October 1805 during the Napoleonic War (1803–1815), as Napoleon Bonaparte and his armies tried to conquer Europe. Unfortunately Nelson met his Waterloo at this battle and was shot by an enemy sniper when he stepped out on deck to survey the battle. ref wikipedia.

walking the thames path
Hello Nelson! how nice to see you…means I’m nearly at journey’s end

Once again I stopped to look back at how far I had come. Distance is an optical illusion at many points along the River Thames as is coils and winds it’s way through London, and although you cover many miles from point A to B, the distance looks less, due to the shape of the river. Apparently, due to of the bends of the river, the Greenwich waterfront is as long as 8.5 miles.

Walking the Thames path
Far away downstream…

Royal Greenwich! Oh how much I love this place. One of London’s 4 UNESCO World Heritage sites, Greenwich has a history as long as your arm or longer…. it has seen kings and queens, pirates and heroes, played a part in WW1 and WW2 and hosted a palace where one of England’s most notorious kings; Henry VIII was born. There are scant remains of the Palace of Placentia, and today the fabulous Royal Naval College stands above the area.

walking the thames path
Hoorah! Greenwich – oodles of history on that direction marker

Royal Greenwich is home to time; the Greenwich Meridian – the location of the Greenwich prime meridian, on which all Coordinated Universal Time is based. The prime meridian running through Greenwich and the Greenwich Observatory is where the designation Greenwich Mean Time, or GMT began, and on which all world times are based. I’ve met the Meridian Line in a couple of places, namely; Oxted – a market town in Surrey, along The Pilgrim’s Way on the North Downs, and near Richmond on the Thames Path.

Royal Greenwich, with a plethora of Grade 1 and Grade 2 listed buildings, museums, the Royal Observatory (Christopher Wren and Robert Hooke), The Naval College (designed by Christopher Wren), The Queen’s House (by Inigo Jones), and the Cutty Sark along with dozens of other places of interest, has so much to offer that you need multiple visits to make the most of it all. It even has 2 castles nearby: Vanbrugh Castle, and Severndroog Castle and a palace: Eltham Palace (fabulous place, you must visit). There are numerous churches to visit, one of which, designed by the famous architect Nicholas Hawksmoor, is St Alfege. In Charles Dickens’s novel Our Mutual Friend, Bella Wilfer marries John Rokesmith in St Alfege Church. The medieval church which stood there before the current 18th century church was dedicated to St Alfege who was martyred by the Danes on 19th April 1012. Henry VIII was baptized there in 1491.

walking the thames path
where once staood a palace…Royal Naval College, Greenwich

History enough to satisfy any history buff.

walking the thames path
a superb museum if you’re visiting. absolutely brilliant maritime objects they have

The evening was absolutely beautiful and it was so lovely to see some many people about…

walking the thames path
perfect evening to be relaxing at the riverside

And then the beautiful, most famous, sometimes ill-fated, and celebrated tall-mast sailing ship; the Cutty Sark, a Victorian tea clipper – sitting resplendent above her glass enclosed dome – looking for all the world as if she is sailing the open seas once more.

walking the thames path
the ever so beautiful Cutty Sark, an icon

Nearby are the famous glass-domed Greenwich Foot Tunnels constructed between 1899 and 1902; still used today and linking Greenwich with Millwall on the opposite bank of the river. It’s a must visit, even just for the thrill of walking beneath the riverbed.

Walking the Thames path
If you can’t walk over it, walk beneath it

It was now 17:19, the sun was beginning to set, so I decided at this juncture to end my journey here and pick it up again on the morrow.

Walking the Thames path
The Greenwich Foot Tunnel

I meandered a bit taking photos of the things I’ve photographed dozens of times before LOL and then I went on the hunt for food…although there are a number of brands; coffee shops and restaurants scattered about, I am loathe to use the big chains for my meals whilst walking and prefer instead to use independents or smaller chains.

First I wandered through the food market on the raised area near the Cutty Sark but saw nothing that was of interest, so strolled along the streets until there, at the traffic lights near the market I spied Jack the Chipper! I am an old fashioned girl at heart when it comes to food, and love nothing more than a hefty portion of fresh hot chips, and that is just what I got – the chips had literally just come out of the fryer, so I ordered a ‘small’ box of hot chips to go. I got more than I bargained for and there was enough for two….but guess what? I ate them all LOL nothing like walking for 6 hours to build up and appetite.

I made my way to St Alfege’s church which was just around the corner and there I sat in the graveyard, the setting sun warm on my shoulders and enjoyed my delicious box of hot chips. Yum! Thus ended Stage 1 of my journey along the Thames Path; in a graveyard…but not permanently LOL

walking the thames path
Jack the Chipper…..whenever I visit Greenwich I will be sure to buy my meal here

By the time I finished eating it was just after 6pm, so I set off for the station…time to go home, have a hot shower and fall into bed.

Enroute to the station I quickly dashed across the road to photograph the rather marvellous sundial on the corner and then it was off to the station where I caught the 18:17 train home via STP.

walking the thames path
in the mean time; Greenwich Mean Time 🙂 loved this
Greenwich Mean Time – love a good sundial

Stage 1 done and dusted – What a marvellous day and I’m SO glad that I decided to walk onto Greenwich from the Thames Barrier, it was a most satisfactory day/distance and brought my total from home to station (and the reverse) and station to station Erith to Greenwich to: 27.08 kms (16.93 miles) – 6 hours 47 min – 41,812 steps – elevation: 46 meters to be precise. Not too shabby really.

Stage 2: Greenwich to Vauxhall Bridge (or further if I can) – post to follow shortly

Postscript: I had planned on doing 6 stages from Erith to Staines-Upon-Thames, but by adding on the section from The Thames Barrier to Greenwich, and again for Stage 2 going further from Vauxhall to Battersea Park, I managed to the distance in 5 stages from Erith to Staine-Upon-Thames. But more on that to follow.

Quote: “If you go to London now, not everything is beautiful, but it’s amazingly better than it was. And the Thames is certainly a lot better; there are fish in the Thames”. Freeman Dyson.

Read Full Post »

Stage 1a : Erith to the Thames Barrier 17.04.2021 – 15.37 kms – 4 hours 13 min – 26,049 steps – elevation: 46 meters

Lunch packed, Gemini (walking poles) ready to go with their new feet

I left home in time to get the 08:20 train from RAM to Erith by 10:27, although we arrived a few minutes earlier at 10:20. It’s a long, slow journey and unfortunately not the High Speed with it’s phone charger adaptors, so I sat back and stared out the window…😝😝

Arriving at Erith station I set MapMyWalk to start recording and made my way to the riverside. The walk took me through the suburban jungle, but all was quiet and I only saw a few other people about. Lockdown is still clearly in effect in Erith.

I reached the riverside in about 7 minutes and took some time to photograph the pretty little park and the deep channels forged into the mudflats.

Walking the Thames path
Scenes of the River Thames at Erith

The tide was out so the riverbed was exposed in all it’s glory….or not. The trash as I mentioned in my previous post was there for all to see as it made it’s way out to sea. Ugh

walking the Thames Path
heading upstream – finally I am on the Thames Path; Thamesmead, Woolwich, Greenwich

Heading upstream (of course) I followed the well-marked, albeit ugly concrete pathway that wound it’s tortuous way past rotting jetties, old dilapidated buildings, urban dwellings, construction works, razor wire fences and the many industries that rely on the river for their business…whatever that may be. These concrete and metallic surfaces are not good for the feet (or shoes – I’m on my 2nd pair in 6 months! At £70 a pop…I feel like I’m working to buy shoes 🤪🤪)

walking the Thames Path
a tortuous path of concrete and metal

The tediously grey landscape was relieved by a couple of colourful mosaics, sadly damaged, that told of a ‘wildlife superhighway’ and depicted the variety of creatures that make the edges and the waters of the Thames their home.

walking the Thames Path
a pretty, albeit damaged mural depicting the wildlife that live in and on the banks of the River Thames

A few modern windmills (turbines) dotted the landscape and the Crossness Nature Reserve offered a welcome relief to the grey industrial landscape. I spotted a bird-watcher walking around with a enormous camera and tripod over his shoulder.

walking the Thames Path
Crossness Nature Reserve – a welcome relief from the brutal industrialisation

And then the Gadwells as mentioned in my prelude…they really looked as if they were having a wonderful time.

walking the Thames Path
Gadwells enjoying a chemical bath – you can barely see them, but there were dozens

I passed very few walkers or cyclists and a few passed me by. The cyclists do race along, and you can’t walk around a blind corner without checking that a boy racer isn’t about to slam into you! At least most of the regular cyclists ring their bells to warn you of their approach. 🙌🙌🔔

walking the Thames Path
boy racer – cyclists can be a menace, they do race along at speed

I absolutely loved the sketches that hung on the walls at intervals, they provided an interesting view of the river over the centuries. The Crossness Pathway information boards too were so interesting to read.

walking the Thames Path
development of the Thames over the centuries

The sewerage farm is best left unspoken about LOL but I loved the apparently abandoned Victorian building on the site. Clearly progress has been made! or not? Built by Joseph Bazalgette in 1865 it contains the largest rotative beam engines in the world and is a Grade I listed building (probably a good thing or progress would have bashed it down by now). It’s function was not that great…it used to pump south London’s untreated sewerage into the Thames 🤮🤮 – the old Crossness Pumping station. This was built as part of the development of London’s sewer systems and operated from 1865 until the 1950s. The engines used to pump sewage directly into the Thames at high tide, the idea being the tide would then carry the sewage out to sea as the river level reduced in the city centre. Ewwww. Good idea…feed it to the fishes that we then eat. 🤢🤢

walking the Thames Path
sewerage plant – new and old
walking the Thames Path
Sludge incinerator, Crossness Sewage Treatment Works

The trash dumped alongside the edges of the river is quite simply appalling. Perhaps the new London Mayor can be petitioned to get a crew in to clean it up!! Although Lord knows it’s an never-ending issue, the more you clear away, the more the numbskulls dump their trash…wherever they please.

walking the Thames Path
pollution on the riverbanks of the Thames…so sad

The nature of the path changes continuously and whilst I didn’t photograph each and every difference in the path, I captured a few for interest….

The closer I got to the Thames Barrier and Greater London, the more greenery made it’s appearance and occassionally I walked alongside trees and grass which provided a welcome relief from the grey dull concrete.

Suddenly as I rounded a bend in the river, there in the distance, on the horizon, I could see the towers of Babel…I mean Canary Wharf! Hoorah!! I’m getting closer. The river up to the Thames Barrier is really wide and with the tide out you could probably walk along sections of the riverbed. Although after my experience with the mudflats at Faversham, I wouldn’t recommend it 😁😁

This seemed like a good place to have a snack, so I spread my eats out and rested here for a while, just enjoying the view and the sunshine.

walking the Thames Path
a good place to stop for a snack – Canary Wharf in the distance

I passed an apartment block at Thamesmead that had a row of four cannon mounted on a ledge leading down to the path. I love seeing these remnants of London’s past history.

walking the Thames Path
warding off the enemy? Cannons at Thamesmead

Next up, the navigation light at Tripcock Ness, and this is where navigation takes on a more serious element and the area has a tragic history; in 1878 Tripcock Ness was the site of the sinking of the Princess Alice after a collision with another vessel that resulted in the loss of over 650 lives.

walking the Thames Path
Tripcock Ness
walking the Thames Path
life on the river gets serious from here onwards

The opposite side of the river is no less industrialised and wherever you look there are jetties jutting out into the river with large container ships moored alongside, tall cranes and buildings line the banks.

walking the Thames Path
the river is wide, the river is deep….the tide was coming in by this stage

As previously mentioned I passed a number of National Cycle Network markers. They are all individually decorated and show distance to places behind or in front of you. Useful if there are no Thames Path markers… albeit not much use when they tell you how far it is to Inverness!!! 😉

walking the Thames Path
National Cycle Network – very useful for distances and directions 🙂 and they’re all so decorative

From this point on, Thamesmead, the area became more residential than industrial and frankly some of the places were so lovely I wouldn’t mind living there myself…the views across the river must be amazing, and a terrific vantage point for watching events like the Tall Ships arriving, or cruise ships leaving.

walking the Thames Path
the path wends it’s way through a suburban jungle

Soon I arrived at Royal Arsenal/Woolwich. One of my favourite places along the Thames Path and I’ve visited a number of times in the past, as well as walked past on my Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales walk from Southwark Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral in 2017.

walking the Thames Path
Royal Arsenal, Woolwich – fire power; remnants of history

There is so much to see in Royal Arsenal Woolwich, with an incredible history, and you could easily while away the day here. Sadly the fantastic Firepower Museum is no longer located here and has been move to a site close to Stonehenge in Wiltshire. If ever you are out that way, I can recommend a visit….it’s marvellous. But I digress.

walking the Thames Path
Guard Houses at Royal Arsenal, Woolwich

I didn’t tarry long and after taking a few photos of the many cannons and big guns littering the historic waterfront, Anthony Gormley’s ‘Assembly’ and the 1815 Riverside Guardhouses (Guardhouses were built at points on the perimeter; one at the main gate (1787–1788) and a pair by the new wharf circa 1814–1815 are still in place today). One is now a small restaurant and the other a flower shop.

walking the Thames Path
– Anthony Gormley at Woolwich

I continued upstream on my journey towards the Thames Barrier.

There was an interesting little sculpture on top of a wall ‘Elephants are people’. I saw quite a few of these as I progressed. Heading over to Google I entered a few key words and voila, found this site elephants are people

walking the Thames Path
Elephants are People

I noticed a beautiful plaque inserted in the paving ‘Millenium Heritage Trail’. I love discovering little features like this.

walking the Thames Path
Historic Woolwich – a fantastic place to explore

Next up, a (new since I was last there), development of apartment blocks. At least the developers have gone some way to making it look attractive with an array of fountains in the forecourt. On the opposite side are another set of many-storied apartment blocks being built.

walking the Thames Path
Urban landscapes along the Thames Path

Soon I passed the ferry and encountered my first annoying diversion: ‘footpath closed’. Ugh!! I loathe those developers that buy up tracts of land right up to the riverside and build something or other right at the edge…so inconsiderate and I cursed them 😤😤🧙‍♀️ This closed footpath required a diversion along a busy road (by the amount of traffic, you could tell – lockdown is well and truly over in Woolwich).

walking the Thames Path
Don’t pay the ferry man till he gets you to the other side?? – I wonder if that would work?
walking the Thames Path
ugh.

Back at the riverside, I stopped briefly to chat to a couple of ladies who were walking jauntily along. I asked them where they were heading, and where they started….Erith!! Crikey. They left more or less the same time as I did, how did I not see them before? Anyway, they had decided that morning, on impulse, to walk to Greenwich from Erith. No prior training and wearing sandals. LOL eish. I would not want to know how they felt the next day…

Then to my delight not much further on I spied the world famous Thames Barrier – still a fair way off but getting closer.

walking the Thames Path
the river is wide, the river is deep

I had to pass through an industrial estate, but fortunately they had some marvellous storyboards lining the building…so I stopped briefly for a read. At this point the Thames Path winds it way through residential and industrial.

walking the Thames Path
dull, ugly industrial landscapes

And at 14:16:40 I arrived at the Thames Barrier! Hoorah! After searching for the public toilets, thankfully open, I made my way to the benches that line the grassy area in front of the riverside facing the Thames Barrier and had some lunch.

walking the Thames Path
Hoorah! The Thames Barrier
walking the Thames Path
lunch at the Thames Barrier

Afterwards I made myself comfortable on the benches next to the building that houses some of the mechanics of the barrier, removed my shoes and socks, put my jacket under my head and had a 30 minute snooze. Bliss.

The day was absolutely gorgeous and since I was still well early and not in the mood to head home just yet, I decided there and then to continue to Greenwich, or as far as my feet would take me. So to that end at 15:13:16 I captured the immortal sign: ‘Thames Path National Trail – 180 miles from the Thames Barrier to the river’s source’ – and then some, if you count the dispute about where the true source is: Kemble or Seven Springs. I’m going to opt for both and after I’ve been to Cricklade/Kemble (eventually) I’m planning on walking the next 31 miles over 2 days to Seven Springs.

walking the Thames Path
walking the Thames Path – 180 miles form Thames Barrier to the river’s source

Without further ado, I set off towards Greenwich. It had been a most satisfactory day so far and I was pleased with the distance I had travelled: 15.37 kms (9.6 miles) – 4 hours 13 min

Walking the Thames Path – Stage 1b to follow shortly : Thames Barrier to Greenwich.

postscript: I had planned on putting my ‘mileage’ towards my Mt. Kilimanjaro (Tanzania – 97.1km) Virtual Challenge, but by the end of Stage 5, because I had walked so much further than expected, I put the km towards The Cabot Trail (Canada – 299.4km). So, although I didn’t walk the full length of the Thames Path (294kms/184miles) this time around, I will add my walks along the Saxon Shore Way and the English Coast Path when I get to do them.

One thing I do want to note in retrospect is that walking the Thames Path sounds very romantic, and you mostly see images on the net or blogs of previous walkers, showing the pretty rural villages and meadows or attractive cities that the Thames flows through, from source to sea, but you seldom see the reality of the downstream areas. You kinda get this idea that the path is a pretty, perhaps dusty but attractive route that follows the river as it wends it’s way downstream…and on the upper reaches it certainly does pass through some gorgeous villages, but without doubt there are a lot of residential and business properties too, and there are some really ugly and very unpleasant areas as you near the estuary.

walking the Thames Path
walking the Thames Path is not always pretty

Quote: Below us the Thames grew lighter, and all around below were the shadows – the dark shadows of buildings and bridges that formed the base of this dreadful masterpiece. Ernie Pyle

You do occasionally get a little splash of colour to relive the grey…nature always finds a way

walking the Thames Path
walking the Thames Path

Join me on instagram for more about my long-distance walking adventures

Read Full Post »

mapmywalk, the pilgrims way, walking the pilgrims way, long distance walks england, backpacking, women walking soloWednesday 22nd August 2018 Day 2 – Alresford to Four Marks : 20.02kms / 46,970 steps elevation 260 meters

After a really good night sleep despite the hardness of the floor, I rose early, had a leisurely cup of tea, some breakfast of granola and fruit. Dressed and washed I packed up, folded all the loaned camping items up neatly and returned the room to pre-Cindy, then making sure the kitchen was clean and tidy, just after 09:30 I locked up and made my way around to the front of the church to explore the interior.

St John’s Church was probably first built before the Norman conquest and is mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086.

walking the pilgrims way, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, explore england, walking the pilgrims way to canterbury

St John’s Church – New Alresford

The interior of the church is so beautiful and well worth a visit.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Alresford, mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book is now a pretty Georgian Market Town and I wish I’d had more time to explore.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Before I left I had a quick walk along the High Street to the far end, bought a packet of dried banana slices (oh my word, they are delicious and provide a lot of nourishment) then making my way back to the route I set off…… ahead of me was a day of 11 stiles!!!

10:44 The Cricketer’s, Alresford: So I haven’t gotten very far 😂. Pepe, Gemini and I are having a rest 🙄🙄 and I’m having a drink of OJ.

I left the church about an hour before and stopped at The Cricketers Pub for a drink coz I’m already tired and my shoulders where the straps drag on my bones are hurting like all hell. I must remember to get cushioning before my next long walk (🤔🤔🤔) To my delight the chap in the pub is from Pietermaritzburg in Natal, South Africa, so just had a lovely chat. They’ve been here since 2000, the year before me. Awesome.

I’ll be heading onto St Swithun’s Way once again and on my way to my next destination. Fortunately its a shorter walk today. hmmmm.

Bishops Sutton: Perhaps I should have walked to London!! 😂 😂 😂 It would have been quicker. I spotted this in Bishop’s Sutton today. I’ve been trying to take a similar photo as the ones in the Pilgrim’s Way guide book, so was delighted to see this.

domesday book bishops sutton, walking the pilgrims way, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, explore england, walking the pilgrims way to canterbury

56 miles to London……quicker than 130 something to Canterbury LOL

Turns out that the father of a  friend of mine from instagram lived in Bishop’s Sutton as a young boy!!

Bishop’s Sutton – mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book

Walking the Pilgrim’s Way sentence by sentence. Following a guide book is a new departure for me and I am not enamoured of the idea. It’s too cumbersome – but The Pilgrim’s Way is not as well marked as the Camino, so it has to be done🙄🙄🙄

To give you an idea, I took 4 photos of one sentence, thought you might find it amusing. “At a four-way junction go left by a post box to pass a white house.” 😁😁 Wait? what will we do if they repaint the house a different colour?? I have quite literally followed the guide sentence by sentence. If I read too far ahead, I get confused and forget what I’m supposed to do 😂😂😂 But besides getting lost (ish) in Old Downs Wood, I did alright. 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I left Alresford quite late this morning and stopped quite a lot along the way. Of the distance and time travelled, I’m sure at least 3-4 kms was having to retrace my steps 3 times and I took about 2 hours for rest stops.

airbnb, st swithuns way, walking the pilgrims way, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, explore england, walking the pilgrims way to canterbury

14:36 I stopped in Ropley for tea and cake

Quite frankly I was tired and really struggled today. It was also quite humid. Sadly no churches today for my pilgrims passport stamps. I saw a massive solar farm and wondered again why our Government is not promoting this more.

st swithuns way, walking the pilgrims way, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, explore england, walking the pilgrims way to canterbury

a massive solar farm….surely the way forward?

I’ve managed to sort accommodation for the outstanding 2 nights, so tomorrow I’m going to post my sleeping bag home. It’s just adding too much extra weight.

Day 2 along The Pilgrim’s Way was a lot more arduous than Day 1 and I climbed over more stiles than I ever want to see in my life again ever!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I arrived in Four Marks at about 17:30 and my lovely hosts fetched me from the local Garden Centre…truly I doubt I could have walked much further.

I stayed at a fantastic AirBnB tonight, they even washed and dried my clothes. Bonus

airbnb, st swithuns way, walking the pilgrims way, winchester to canterbury along the pilgrims way, long distance walks uk, solo walking for women, explore england, walking the pilgrims way to canterbury

my bed for the night in Four Marks – AirBnB

Today was tough…..looking forward tomorrow since I will be visiting Chawton where Jane Austen lived for a time.

After a lovely scalding hot shower and hair wash, I slipped between the covers and before long I was in dreamland….Goodnight!

I have created a video that you might enjoy of the day

In case you missed Day 1 of my walk along The Pilgrim’s Way https://notjustagranny.co.uk/2018/11/01/winchester-to-alresford-day-1/

Read Full Post »

Things Helen Loves

Life Outdoors & Travel Adventures

Closer to the edge

Walking the coastline of Britain

Short Walks & Long Paths

Wandering and exploring The Pembrokeshire & Wales Coast Paths

Port Side Travel By Jill

My travels, photos, tips/tricks and anything else I think of!

Wonderwall

My 360: wonderwalls,theatre, travel, Sheffield, books...

Robyn's Ramblings

My Thoughts. Expressed.

Graham's Long Walk

Graham King's long walks around Britain

The Lawsons on the Loose

Philip & Heather are making memories through travelling. How lucky are we?