The Thames Towpath is a 184 mile pathway stretching along the banks of the river Thames from the source in deepest Gloucestershire to its outlet into the sea at the Thames estuary. Mr D and I have been walking sections of it for longer than I care to remember. Initially we started as practice for a holiday in Chile and Argentina, where we went trekking through the Patagonian wilderness. Later we used the long walks along the Thames as training for the ‘3 Peaks’ challenge I undertook as part of a charity initiative organised by work where my team of 9 raised over £10,000 for Cancer Research. This challenge involved climbing the highest mountains in England, Scotland and Wales ( Ben Nevis, Scafell Pike and Snowdon) all within 24 hours.
Although the flat terrain of the Thames towpath didn’t help me with the hillwalking required for 3 Peaks, the 15-20 mile weekly hikes certainly helped me develop stamina. 3 Peaks was one of the toughest physical challenges I’ve ever undertaken and, despite being a very keen hiker up to that point, I’ve had no motivation to put my walking boots on in the 2 years since.
So after months of a cold and completely miserable winter, the recent change in temperature and flower explosion finally motivated me to drag those boots out of the cupboard. And boy am I glad I did!
We set off early on Saturday morning from SW London. Destination: Oxford. Along the nearly 2 hour journey up there I watched the names of places we’d walked through (Kew, Windsor, Sonning, Marlow) flash up on road signs and realised just how far we’d come.
We parked the car at Oxford’s railway station and caught the train to Culham for the start of our walk. It was a truly glorious day, and despite my earlier protests, I was glad I’d got out of bed at 6am to make it.
The walk took us through lush green meadows. The only real town on the route was Abingdon:
Most of the route is flat meadows:
There were quite a few boats out along the way, all out enjoying the gorgeous weather. We stopped to watch this barge going through the lock, the lock keeper is visible on the towpath:
For the entire 15 mile journey I had been looking forward to those ‘dreaming spires if Oxford’ looming up over the trees as we got closer and closer to the city centre. Sadly that didn’t happen! When we arrived back at Oxford train station to meet the car, we did see one sight which is unmistakeably ‘Oxford’…Racks of bikes as far as the eye can see!
Gluten Free Mrs D