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Life Line

Downstream — Trip 4

On the previous trip I walked from Shillingford to Reading on the Thames Path, and on this trip I was planning to walk to Marlow. For once, getting to the start was easy by a single and fast train ride into Reading.

Day 6 — Reading to Bourne End

Downstream — Day 6

With the Reading Festival over, there was little to see of hoardings and temporary holding pits when I started my walk towards Marlow. The first interesting thing along the path is Caversham Lock, which quite busy on the slightly hazy morning.

A little further along, I crossed, by means of a foot bridge, the River Kennet. Through the Kennet and Avon Canal, it connects the Thames at Reading with the River Avon at Bristol, with the canal section between Bath and Newbury. When recording the video section on this, I messed up so had to re-record the narration.

Continuing along the Thames Path I noticed that there are a significant number of posh schools located along this stretch of the river, which sometimes means you need to make a little detour. Another of these detours away from the river is at Shiplake, where the Thames Path brings you straight to the quaint village, with its Phone Box Book Exchange, and its lovely railway station.

My plan was to have lunch at Henley, at one of the pubs along the river. Just when I got to Henley however it started to rain, and all the pubs where absolutely packed, with lots of people wearing colourful clothes. I had no idea what was going on, and I was hungry, so I found a little cafe, Cafe Copia near the town hall to have lunch, and wait for the rain to pass.

After lunch I crossed the bridge and found the Thames Path clogged with these same people in colourful clothes. Due to the busyness it was quite slow going for a while, until I got to a massive festival site just North of Remenham. There was a reason for the funny dress sense after all, as this site was hosting the Rewind Festival, a big 80s festival.

After half an hour, the festival site was no longer visible and audible and the tranquillity of the walk returned, and I could listen to the podcast series Caliphate from the New York Times, once again, in the middle of the private deer park of Culham Court.

At Hurley it became busy along the Thames again as they were having their annual Regatta. As I was quite early, there was no racing going on yet, but as often with these river-side festivals they make you go around them, away from the Thames Path.

Near Bisham, you can spot the former grounds of Bisham Abbey across the river. Now it is sports centre, but when I passed by there was a wedding reception in progress.

As I was now approaching Marlow, I asked one of my coworkers, who is local, for a good recommendation for a post-walk beer. He came back with saying that Marlow is primarily food-orientated, and proceeded to recommend a pub in Bourne End, another three and a half miles walking. I decided to do that, as it was quite reasonably early, and I was going to miss the train at Marlow anyway. Just past the town, the Thames Path got diverted again, as repaving work was being done on a section — yay for shiny new paths!

The extra miles to Bourne End where worth it in the end as I settled for a half at KEG Craft Beer for a lovely sour. I also picked up a train beer for my trip back into London.

Photos from my Adventure on the Thames Path are available on Flickr, and all videos on Vimeo. You can also see all the photos on a map.


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