Wwith Shelli having a whole bunch of homework to catch up on due to everything that’s been going on this past month, I found myself with a day free to do what I wanted. As I was still a little worried about hitting my 200 mile target for the month I thought the time would be best spent getting a few more miles ticked off.
After a lazy start to the day, and a walk round the village with Snow to help her chill out while I was out, I got myself ready, packed my little rucksack, and headed out the door.
I would normally have taken Snow with me, but as the day was supposed to be pretty hot I didn’t want to risk her overheating as I was intending on being out at least a couple of hours.
I didn’t really have a plan on where I was going to walk. As I said, the only real plan was to make sure I was out for at least a couple of hours to cover a few miles more than a “normal” day. So, I headed out the door and just let my feet take me where they wanted to take me; I had my phone and GPS on me so it wasn’t like I was going to get lost.
I made my way out to Whitchurch Hill – a place where numerous routes can be taken from, all nice and interesting – and before I really knew it I’d made my way to the B471 and I was heading down into Whitchurch-on-Thames and the River Thames. I wasn’t really sure what I was thinking going down there but, the River’s always nice on a sunny day and there are some lovely places around Pangbourne to walk too.
Over the toll bridge I decided to turn left and take in some of the Thames Path, a stretch Shelli and I have already walked on a weekend walking from Oxford to Reading.
To be honest, a circular walk from home out to Reading and back again has been something I’ve wanted to do for quite some time. I guess subconsciously my head had made up its mind what I was going to do and just told my feet where to go?
There were lots of people out by the river, sitting and enjoying picnics and playing games. Me? I strolled through and headed out towards Mapledurham Lock, knowing that it wouldn’t be long before I had the path to myself again.
When I got to lock I found an unoccupied bench looking out over the lock, took my trail shoes off, and had a little bite to eat. I didn’t hang around for very long – only 15 minutes. Just enough time to get some air to my feet and to eat a pasty and a packet of crisps. It was pretty busy at the lock – there’s a little cafe there – and the noisy kids weren’t really working for me.
I put my shoes back on, packed up my rucksack, and headed out along the Thames Path towards Reading, taking in an altogether weird stretch of the path, going through a housing estate to get up to Oxford Road before crossing the railway lines again to get back to the riverside. All very strange.
From there it was a pretty straightforward walk to get to Caversham Bridge, through the hoards of people sitting by the riverside enjoying the sun. As I came up to the bridge I took a picture on my phone and sent it to Shelli with the message “I think I might have taken a wrong turn!?!”. The text conversation then went:
“Bloody hell you’re all the way down there???”
“Yep. Time to head home now”
“That could take you a while to get home…?”
“Don’t know. We’ll see won’t we?”
“I guess so…nutter!”
It was true though, I didn’t really know how long it was going to take or how far it actually was to get home from Reading. I’d walk from Play Hatch (the other side of Caversham) to home before (when I walked from South Hill Park to home), which was a good 9 miles or so. But from Caversham Bridge? I wasn’t sure.
I got my trusty GPS out and looked at the map to figure out where I was going to go, finding a path that took me out to Mapledurham and then up through the woods to home. Some of this I’d walked before (after Mapledurham) so it made sense to head out that way, so off I went.
Now, 99.99% of the time when I go out walking I take everything I need: first aid kit, water, food, extra layers, waterproof coat etc. etc. Today though, with the weather being so nice, I completely forgot to pack a coat into my rucksack. Why worry? It was a lovely hot day, what could possibly go wrong?
Rain. That’s what could go wrong! Doh!
I had to laugh walking along in my shorts and t-shirt. Fortunately it didn’t seem to be getting too bad, and frankly the cool rain was really nice after the heat of the sun.
I made my way along The Warren (strange name for a road) and picked up a path and track out to Mapledurham, the rain not getting too bad until I got to Mapledurham house, where I was forced to put my camera away in my rucksack for a bit to make sure it didn’t get too wet.
A little way outside Mapledurham I reached the point where I needed to head up into the woods to properly start making my way home. I’d walked this bit before and I knew exactly what was ahead of me: a very, very steep hill!
I reached the bottom of the hill and as I looked up at it I could see someone’s head over the brow of the hill. I guessed someone was taking a well deserved break on the conveniently placed bench at the top.
Not wanting to prolong the agony I put my head down, gritted my teeth, and yomped it up the hill in one go! The hill went up a good 40 meters in about 0.1 miles – not very far at all, and boy did I feel it when I got to the top!
When I looked up, trying to catch my breath, there were too elderly couples there (three of whom were sitting down) and one of the ladies said “Wow! You got up there a lot quicker than we did!”. I smiled the best smile I could (still trying to get my breath back) and I thanked her.
They offered me a chair but I said that if I sat down I might not get back up again. They asked where I’d walked and when I told them I’d walked from Woodcote to Pangbourne, then along to Reading, and now on my way back to Woodcote they were very impressed. Breath caught, I said goodbye to them all and headed off into the woods.
From there I headed up through the woods to Collins End and then Goring Heath before reaching Long Toll road and home not too much further away. As I made my way up the road I phoned Shelli to see how she was doing, and whether she fancied meeting me at the Black Lion for a well deserved (for both of us) pint or two. She said yes and with a spring in my step I headed up the road and to the pub, it having taken me only 1 hour 40 minutes to get from Caversham Bridge back to Woodcote, which – if I do say so myself – is a pretty good time to cover the 6.5 miles uphill to home!
We spent nearly two hours having a few drinks, chatting and chilling out, which was absolutely lovely, before heading home.
If you add the morning’s dog walk and the one we did later on in the evening, I managed to clock up over 20 miles towards my 200 mile target for the month, taking off some of the pressure for the final week of the month.
I completely forgot to record my steps on this route, although through the course of the entire day (including walking the dog twice) I managed over 40,000 steps!
|Miles||Start (HH:MM)||Finish (HH:MM)||Breaks (HH:MM)||Walking (HH:MM)||Pace (MPH)|
|Start Elavation (m)||End Elavation (m)||Max Elevation (m)||Min Elevation (m)||Total Climb (m)||Total Descent (m)||Climbs on Route|
|Rating||Start Point (miles)||End Point (miles)||Length (miles)||Start Elevation (m)||End Elevation (m)||Average Grade|
More information about climb ratings can be found at Map My Walk.