Marlow to Bourne End
Three years ago we set ourselves the challenge of walking the Thames Path. The path runs from the source of the Thames in Cricklade to the Thames Barrier. At a mere 184 miles, this was never going to be a challenge that was quick to achieve. And it was certainly going to be a challenge that was completed in sections.
In spring 2012 we made our way from Oxford to Reading over the course of a weekend, with an overnight stop in Wallingford. That was a particularly painful walk owing to a host of blisters that plagued me (Shelli) from very early on in the first day. In May 2012 we completed the next leg from Reading to Marlow; in total we had completed 61.93 miles. In the intervening three years other adventures have interrupted the journey. The biggest being moving in together and renovating our new house.
But with this new website up and running, and a list of adventures set for the year ahead, it seemed fitting that we kick January off with a stroll along the next section of the Thames Path. And so we found ourselves on a chilly (but at times sunny) winter day setting off from Marlow with our sights set on Windsor. A simple 14.06 mile stroll.
We drove to Marlow, leaving the car there and setting off along the path. The plan was to catch the train back from Windsor to Marlow at the end of the day.
We had dressed for a cold day, with several layers of clothes topped off with coats, scarves, hats and gloves. But with a brilliant sun beating down from an almost clear blue sky it wasn’t long before we were removing layers. The first section of the walk was surprisingly busy with families and couples (even a few crazy joggers). Perhaps they had been encouraged out by the sunshine? Wide open fields greeted us on the first leg of the journey along the side of the non-tidal Thames. The easy path was only mildly complicated by the cloying mud that stuck to our boots and made for a slip slidey experience at times!
One thing you don’t see much of this time of year is boats. While the river bank was busy with walkers, the river itself was very quiet. Quiet that is apart from the odd cluster of ducks and geese, and the flock of hungry seagulls we came across as we walked into Bourne End.
It felt great to be out walking again. This was something we’d both missed over the past year. Paint brushes and sandpaper had taken the place of walking boots and rucksacks. I could almost feel the stress flowing away as we strolled, chatted and laughed.
And as we got to Bourne End the feet were holding up just fine (praise be to the new walking boots!).
Photos from Marlow to Bourne End
Bourne End to Maidenhead
At Bourne End we crossed the Thames via a railway bridge and found a little bench to take a rest on. As it was now gone midday we had a spot of lunch. We’d been really quite warm walking in the morning sunshine, but now with the cloud hiding the sun, the temperature dropped and the layers went back on.
After lunch we set off on the stroll down river to Maidenhead. Before too long we came into Cookham. A pretty little village nestled on the banks of the Thames, it was once the home of the painter Stanley Spencer. The Thames Path took us through the village churchyard, where I spotted Spencer’s headstone and Darren had some fun taking photos of a weeping angle. Beautiful but eery all at the same time.
One thing you realise when you walk along the Thames Path is just how much wealth actually exists in this country. As you walk out of the villages and towns the river is lined with massive houses, with opulent gardens and private boat houses. One day we will win the lottery…
This section of the path was much quieter, for much of the time it was just us two. As we drew closer to villages we crossed paths with the odd dog walker, and a few more crazy runners.
Maidenhead announced its close proximity with the familiar arches of its ancient bridge. After a brief stop to snap arty pictures of a fountain, we were across the bridge and embarking on the final stretch of the day. Windsor was calling 6 miles ahead.
Photos from Bourne End to Maindenhead
Maidenhead to Windsor
By the time we’d crossed the bridge at Maidenhead and started on the stretch to Windsor we were both hurting. The year of decorating meant we’d stopped walking and running, and we were a little out of shape. So we were now hurting. Legs were aching and the little toes that always blistered were inevitably blistered.
But on we pushed, still talking, still chatting and still laughing. Other people were few and far between by this time. It really felt like we had the Thames Path to ourselves. The path on this stretch was thinner and flanked by trees for much of the way. The skies were greyer and the hats and gloves stayed on.
As we approached Windsor we passed under a bridge that had the most brilliant graffiti on one of its supports. A series of faces adorned the concrete support, hidden from view of all those but river users or path walkers. The detail in the graffiti was astonishing. A quick bit of googling showed that the mural was painted by graffiti artist Cosmo Sarson in the run up to the 2012 Olympic Games. ‘The Kids of Windsor’ was for people to view as they walked along the Thames Path to watch the rowing at Dorney Lake. We were both shocked it had remained intact for so long without any sign of damage.
With the sun starting to go down we knew we must be getting close to Windsor. The legs were on auto pilot by now and the hope on every bend was that Windsor castle would be visible in a few short steps. And then there it was. In all its huge splendour. To really appreciate the size and beauty of Windsor Castle, it has to be viewed from a distance. Up close on Windsor High Street you lose all appreciation for scale.
A few snaps of the castle, some mutual pats on the back for making it to the end, and we were in Windsor. After a long day of walking we headed to a pub — not sure a restaurant would have appreciated our muddy boots. We spent an hour supping on a pint and enjoying a tasty meal before setting off on the journey home. Even delayed trains, and replacement bus services couldn’t dampen our spirits.
A great day!
Photos from Maidenhead to Windsor
|Miles||Start (HH:MM)||Finish (HH:MM)||Breaks (HH:MM)||Walking (HH:MM)||Pace (MPH)||Steps Taken|
|Start Elavation (m)||End Elavation (m)||Max Elevation (m)||Mim Elevation (m)||Total Climb (m)||Total Descent (m)||Climbs on Route|
More information about climb ratings can be found at Map My Walk.