April 14-May 1, 2011
March 14, 2011
Gayle and I are planning to walk the Thames Path in
We will be gone for 22 days, departing on April 12 and returning May 3rd. Thus we have 18 walking days in which to complete the 182 miles or slightly over 10 mile a day. In theory, this project involves a 5-mile walk in the morning and a 5-mile walk in the afternoon after lunch at a midway Pub. Quite doable if we don’t suffer an injury or experience really bad weather.
Unlike Anne and Peter who made the trip with few advance arrangements, I have meticulously planned each day of the trip and made reservations for each night along the way. It is my impression that in the 13 years since Anne made the trip, the Thames Patch has become more popular and a sold-out country B&B is now a real possibility. It eliminates some spontaneity and flexibility, but at least ensures us of lodging throughout the trip.
Another difference is that we have decided to walk the Path
in the opposite direction, that is, from the Ocean to the Source rather than
the other way around. This was necessitated
by the Royal Wedding of Prince William planned for the weekend beginning Friday
April 29th. This event would
make finding accommodations in
Here is a map of the first eight days of our walk:
Here is a map of the final 10 days of our walk:
The trip will be a challenge. Both Gayle and I are “in training” between
now and our departure date, four weeks from tomorrow. I have planned a gradually increasing walking
schedule with daily walks increasing from 3 miles to eleven miles prior to our departure. As of today, I am at the 6 miles per day
level. Gayle started later than I with
this training program because she was feeling badly after out return from
For the first week, we have rented a flat in
The weather promised to be cool during April with the
average high of 60F degrees and an average daily low of 42F. So we will bring
sufficient clothing to be warm knowing that we may have to de-layer if it is a
warm day and we are walking fast. April
is the month with the 2nd least monthly rainfall (March is the
least). Hopefully the winter will have below
average rainfall and the path will not be muddy or flooded. As of March 1st, the
March 29, 2011
There are now two weeks before our departure on the 12th. We have been busy
I had been quite worried about the actual physical process
of walking the Thames Path. After we
returned from our
I must say, some of the early 3-mile walks left me quite tuckered which was worrisome. But the more I have walked, the easier it has become. I have discovered a rather slow pace that seems to be quite sustainable. After a few miles I get into a sort of a “zone” where I just plod along. There is no sense of increasing fatigue and no aches and pains. I think this walk is quite feasible. We have walked about 100 miles so far with another 100+ miles planned before we leave.
Another concern for me was an increasing (over the last 2 years) pain in one of my knees (the left one). It felt like I had strained something and if I stepped funny, ran, or walked up stairs hard, it hurt. It was sufficiently bad that I went to an orthopedic surgeon in January where I had an MRI. They could see nothing wrong, but said they would give me a steroid shot and suggested to bring lots of ibuprofin along. A few weeks ago the NY Times had an article about joint pain. The article said that shots and rest did not help. What was needed was moderate exercise of the joint. Well, would you believe it? The more I have walked, the less my knee has been bothering me. I hardly notice any pain any more. Maybe it’s related, but at Anne’s insistence, I have been taking glucoseamin, a natural joint-help supplement that she swears by.
Here is a hot financial tip.
Buy REI (Recreational Equipment Incorporated) common stock. Gayle has been out almost every day buying
some new walking apparel to keep us warm or dry. We are planning on traveling light. The first week of the trip we are staying in
a flat in
We have firm booking for accommodations for each day of the trip. Below is a list of the picturesque names of our accommodations along the way. That table also shows our estimated walking distance each day. The total is 183,5 miles.
The Walled Garden B&B
Ivy Cottage B&B
Perch and Pike Pub
Shillingford Bridge Hotel
Crown and Thistle Hotel
Victoria Oxford Hotel
Cambrai Lodge B&B
Thames Head Inn
There is some question as to how we will spend our time each
day. On average, we will be walking only
about three to four hours a day to cover our 8-12 miles (which seems like very
little). So what will we be doing the
other 12 waking hours? Obviously we will
be eating three times a day, breakfast in the hotel or flat, lunch along the
path, and dinner in a nearby restaurant or pub.
That will burn up 2 to 3 hours.
We have decided that reading e-books on our iPhones will be a regular
activity. We can actually have real
books while at the flat in
Sunday April 3, 2011
The training walks have continued and have become longer and easier each day. Today is the first day of the last week before we depart. That means that the daily walk is now up to 10.5 miles per day. I have walked 177 miles since March 2 and will be walking another 70-80 miles before we depart. Gayle has joined me for most walks and seems to have an easier time adjusting to the distances than I do (younger body ?). Generally, we have been breaking up the later walk into two parts, one in the morning and one in the afternoon/evening simulating the before-lunch and after-lunch walks we will take on the Path.
It has become obvious to us from out local walks that the
outside temperature has a huge impact on the ease of the walking. Although we were at first concerned by the
I have decided to do all my walking in shorts. That will provide for more cooling and less friction. I will take only one pair of trousers for the evenings and this will lighten my backpack load slightly. I also want to carry with me short sleeve shirt(s) to which I can strip down if the going gets hot.
More on Back Packs
Anne recommended that we get used to wearing our back packs before we leave. That was great advice. Last week, I wore my back pack during each walk. The first day, lightly loaded (about 6-7 pounds) was torture and I was considering taking it back to REI as obviously ill-fitting. With some more experience, I learned that the key to comfort was balancing the tension between the shoulder straps and the hip belt and loading the contents so that they fit into the small of the back. The second day was more comfortable and it has improved each day since. Yesterday, I filled the bag with old magazines. It weighed 17 pounds and was tolerably comfortable on the flats, although I believe that is 5 pounds more than it will weigh during the trip.
For the first week, I will carry a light day pack with our rain gear and removed outerwear. This will hardly be noticed. For the remaining two weeks, we will both be carrying well-constructed (and expensive) back packs filled with the minimum inventory of clothing and personal stuff required for the balance of our trip. My initial budget is 10 pounds each (not including what we are wearing) but that may be hard to achieve. At the risk of boring the reader here is what I will be taking.
Long sleeved shirt
Fleece or Sweater
Wallet (credit card, ATM card, Oyster card)
Back pack (2.5 pounds)
Rain poncho* (8 Oz)
Long sleeved shirt (1)
Short sleeved shirt (1)
Socks (2 pair)
Light-weight shoes (9 Oz)
Guide book and trip planning docs* (1 pound)
Water bottle*, 1 pint (1 pound)
Sun glasses and case*
Medications and Ibuprofen* in plastic bag
iPhone charger + extension cord
Gayle will be carrying similar stuff without the water, guidebook, medical kit, electronics and travel docs.
I was double checking the overnight arrangements yesterday
and discovered that we had a reservation in a B&B that was not actually
located within the town that I thought it was.
The Appletree Inn was four miles east of Abingdon rather than in
town. This accommodation would have been
only 6 miles from the previous nights stay in Shillingford and would have left
us with a 14 mile walk to
Unfortunately it is turning out that the dollar is currently
in free-fall and
I have just learned that the ship Cutty Sark moored along
our path in
The guide books make mention of the London Eye. Only today I learned that the Eye is that
huge Ferris wheel built in 2000 across the Thames from the
April 4, 2011
Hitting The Wall
I learned a valuable lesson last evening while walking the 2nd leg of our first 10.5-mile practice walk. I simply ran out of energy at about 2.5 miles. Fortunately, I had (much to my relief) an energy bar in my backpack and it revived me. But I was all shaky and really pooped. Gayle and I sat down for a few minutes till my blood sugar rose, and we continued our walk (which was truncated to about 8.5 miles for the day). Good lesson. Always keep something on hand to eat and have a nourishing lunch.
My goal of 10.5 miles was not met on Sunday and, because of other obligations, I have not walked today (Monday). We will resume “training” tomorrow.
I am making such a big deal about this walk, what if we fail
to make it in
To avoid having to bring shaving stuff along, I am growing a beard. Last weekend, Tory took one look at me and said “You look like Uncle Peter”.
Sunday April 10, 2011
Well, we have less than 48 hours before we depart for
As of yesterday, I have walked 206 miles in training (Gayle somewhat less). I expect to walk another 15-20 miles between today and tomorrow. It has gone well except for an awareness of my tender left knee when I am wearing a fully loaded backpack and going downhill. I trust that will not be a problem.
The weather on our first day of walking, next Thursday, is
forecasted to be rainy. Too bad! Maybe it will not be heavy rain. That day, we will be walking from the Thames
barrier to the
In general, the weather in the
We have discovered that YouTube, the internet video sharing site, had about 20 amateur videos taken by people walking the Thames Patch. They run from as little as a minute up to 16 minutes in length and cover many different sections of the path. Very interesting. If you wish to view some, search on “Thames Path” at youtube.com.
We are bringing walking sticks but have not decided if they will actually be carried for our backpacking phase, days 7-18. We will test them out during the first few days of walking without backpacks.
I have been challenged on my “negative” attitude about this trip by Tory and others. Although I am concerned about the physical rigors of the venture, I will not be the drill sergeant. I fully realize that we are taking this trip to “smell the flowers”, take in the local charm, enjoy the local scenery and ourselves. We hope to walk leisurely, take many photos, and visit along the way. Should we somewhere chose not to walk part of the path (weather, fatigue, injury), it will not be a failure.
Wednesday, April 13
We are now less than an hour out of
On landing we will take the Underground to Putney and walk a reported 7 minutes to the flat. Our luggage consists of our two backpacks and one small roll-on suitcase, all taken on board as carry-on.
The horizon is illuminated to the east as dawn rapidly envelopes us. In a few moments we will begin our descent.
We have arrived at our
Don't know how we will spend our day but we have no plans to start walking before tomorrow morning.
Our underground trip from Heathrow progressed without
incident. It was rush hour so the train
was packed. We changed once at Earl's
Court. Our Oyster cards (smart cards)
got us in and out without delay or further payment. The trip seemed to be long and the thought
occurred to me that we have to retrace the route, this time on foot since
Windsor, one of our daily starting points, is not far from Heathrow. By the time we get to back
Our digs for the next week are quite satisfactory, small but charming, on the 2nd floor, nice living room, well-equipped kitchen, and a comfortable bedroom.
Gayle sacked out for four hours. I had a shorter nap of a couple
of hours. Then we went for an
exploratory walk. We crossed the
The living room of the Putney Flat
We have no urgency to begin the trek tomorrow morning. We have all day. It will take at least an hour to get from the flat to the barrier and then a 4 hour walk with a break for lunch to get to the Tower Bridge, we will see how goes. We are excited.
Thursday, April 14
Thames Barrier to
Our first day of walking the Thames Path is now
history. It went well with no problems
or injuries. This segment was from the
Thames Barrier (a flood control infrastructure) to the famous
We left the flat at about 8:30 am and took the railway to
We walked from the Barrier to
The pedestrian tunnel from Greenwich to the North Bank.
About 11:30 we were getting hungry but at that point the
North bank was residential and devoid of restaurants. At about 12:30 with only 3 miles to go, we
happened upon an Indian restaurant and had a huge spicy lunch, which, in
retrospect, was a mistake on both accounts.
We then walked the balance of our route and were greatly pleased when
Nearing the end of
day one. The
So how do we feel? Both of us were profoundly tired and fell into a deep sleep upon our return to the flat. That might have as much to do with the jet lag as with the walking. Speaking for myself, after a two hour nap I felt much refreshed, except my feet felt tired and are somewhat swollen. Can we do this for the next 17 days? I think so. We had a very interesting day. In spite of the effort, or because of it, it was a lot of fun.
Friday, April 15
I forgot to mention a couple of things about yesterday's walk.
First, as an illustration of the authorities' determination to respect the Path, at one point the Path crossed a large bare area that was obviously being used as a gravel storage site. Ahead was a large crane on one side of the path loading gravel onto a barge moored on the other side of the path. As we approached, the crane operator gave us a friendly wave forward and halted his loading until we had passed under his machine. It was obvious that the Path had priority. Fortunately for the crane, the traffic on a Thursday morning was very light.
The start of the path is at the operations center for the Barrier works. There is a big sign proclaiming "the beginning of the Path that extends 180 miles to the Source, etc etc." The sign sits above a gate with the path beyond. The gate was locked!!! We had to make a big detour around the operations complex to actually regain the way. It was an unsettling beginning to the walk.
The beginning of the
Finally, as we approached the end of yesterday's walk, we were surprised at the number of "joggers" on the Path. My, we thought, these English are very fitness conscience. After awhile we also noticed signs announcing street closings for next Sunday for the London Marathon. Oh, of course, these are not casual fitness buffs, but rather marathoners in training. But we did notice that, in general, Londoners are slimmer than their American counterparts.
It is now 4:30pm. We
have returned from the Day 2 walk, picking up where we left off yesterday at
Finally, we had several stops along the way, first for lunch
and later for tea (and delicious lime pie).
Today, the big attraction was the bridges, twenty in all between the
As before, we stopped off at the market and will eat in the apartment tonight.
Tomorrow the walk to
Saturday, April 16
Today we walked from
Pleasure barges moored in a shady spot.
The walk was also the loveliest so far. We walked on the South Bank of the
Gayle on the tow path in front of Hammersmith Bridge
Midway into the day we stopped at a pub in Mortlake and had a wonderful light lunch of soup and bread, a right-sized lunch for walking. Near the end of our walk, we stopped for tea and split a delicious toffee pudding that reminded me of my mother's Christmas plum pudding. She came from powerful English roots of which she was very proud.
I haven't mentioned the weather so far in my
travelogues. It is, in
Blooming wisteria was everywhere
We have been here 5 days. The weather had been sunny or partly sunny every day and the 5-day forecast is for more of the same. We cannot expect totally rain-free weather, but for at least the first half of the trip, we have had the weather gods on our side. We find the cool English weather (60-65F) to be perfect for walking. In some ways, the weather is making a joke of our triple layers of clothing, complete with gloves and ear muffs. Many of the English girls are wearing tank tops. Today I wore shorts for the first time and expect to continue for the rest if the trip.
My niece Hilary keeps asking about "the wedding"
or if we have seen "the betrothed" in our travels. The short answer is that all the tabloid
papers (that we see on the underground) are splashed with William and Kate
pictures, but we have not been invited to
My niece Jenny strongly recommended bringing walking sticks. We intended to bring ours but they did not fit in our suitcase (by a wide margin) and we could only imagine the difficulty of bringing the on board as carry on luggage. So far we have not missed them.
Tonight we are going out to dinner at a local Italian restaurant, giving Gayle a night off from cooking.
We are well and having a great time. Stay tuned.
Sunday, April 17
Today we walked the 8 miles from
The walk was, like yesterday, lovely, entirely on broad paths right next to the river. Being it was Sunday, there were significant numbers of people out for a stroll: families, lovers, runners, pensioners, bicyclists, and on the river itself, rowers and even sailboats.
Sail Boats (a
relative rarity on the
The weather was perfect, mostly sunny, relatively hot (65F +) real T-shirt weather.
We encountered our first lock and weir in
Richmond Lock, the first of forty one locks on the river
Gayle took particular photographic interest in the swans.
A white swan, the symbol of the Thames River and the property of the Queen
Gayle had predicted that day 3 (yesterday) would be hard. It turned out yesterday was a breeze. Today was hard. Even though the walking distance was among our shortest of daily walks, we both suffered aches and pains and a general lack of energy.
A contributing problem was the interruption of rail service
Hampton Court Palace, the residence of King Henry VIII
Tomorrow, we have one of our longest walks, 12 miles from
Monday, April 18
Today we completed the longest daily walk of our trip, 12.5
miles on the path,
It was a misty Monday morning when we departed Hampton Court for Staines
The weather continues beautiful. The
The plan was to get an "early" start (nothing we
have been doing could be considered early). We were out of the flat at 8:30 to
catch the 8:59 train to resume our walk from
The Shepperton ferry answered our summons
Gayle also announced that she had a bluster brewing. We did what we could but the situation deteriorated as our walk continued.
Aside from the blister, this was a very nice walk. The path was fairly deserted by yesterday's standards (weekend). We actually stopped and talked to several people including one gentleman on a bike that pointed out the house where Tom Jones lives. We both were in the zone where the miles just happen. The banks of the river had interesting houses and a wide variety of house boats and live-in barges. A lot of rowers were out including a geriatric (over 70) 8 plus cox and numerous all-woman crews. The Path was punctuated by passages through expansive commons with no specific track. At other times, we had a single rut to follow between the river and the trees. It was all very green. The willow trees were the most amazing thing (aside from the mating ducks).
Wedding Report: nothing happened today.
Finally, we can report the British are dog crazy. We have never seen so many dogs out walking their masters.
Tuesday, April 19
First the late-breaking wedding news from
1) Heighten security in
2) Prince William concerned about Kate's handling of limelight. Pundits predict she's up to it.
3) A dozen 20,000 pound sterling mattresses arrive at marriage hotel to ensure "sleep of a lifetime" for marriage party.
Today we walked the final section of the Thames Path that we
will do while staying in our
In six days of walking we have covered 70.9 miles with approximately 120 miles to go. We are one third through the 18 days of walking and probably slightly more than one third of the distance. After tomorrow we will not have to use public transport to get to our daily walk. We are out the door after breakfast and on our way. The down side (if one wanted to be negative) is that we will henceforth be carrying our backpacks. This might not be so difficult for me since I have been carrying a light pack all week, but maybe for Gayle it will be an adjustment.
Today's walk was really nice. Not too long, no foot blisters, no aches and
pains. The weather was beautiful,
temperature about 70F. The path was
green and alternated between shady lanes between English cottages and the
river, open common areas, and some town streets. The
We did not hasten our morning departure and with the long
train ride to our starting point in
At about 5 miles from
For the last 6 days, we have been able to gauge our location
with reference to the aircraft taking off or landing at Heathrow. At times, e.g.
The Landing pattern for Heathrow Airport passes right over Windsor
We are very pleased with ourselves at the completion of the
London-based part of our walk. Tonight
we will organize our back packs and prepare the overflow for storage at
Heathrow airport. Tomorrow will be a
long day with some complicated logistics involving vacating the flat and
stopping off at Heathrow on our way to
Wednesday, April 20
Today we gave up our flat in Putney. Last night we organized our belongings in our
two back packs and whatever was left over went into the suitcase. We had a nice
time while in the flat we were a bit sad to leave behind the comfort of our
"home" and the luxury of not having to carry backpacks. This morning we took the underground to
Each backpack weighed in at around 10 to 12 pounds. We were pretty ruthless in our weight reductions. For example, the precious guidebook was divided into parts so we now only have the Windsor-Kemble sections with us.
We noted that there are really no eating facilities on the
path until Maidenhead, 7 miles from our starting point. Therefore we decided to first eat lunch in
Taking a rest at the Church of St. James near Dorney Court
In any case, we departed
The river is quite undeveloped in places
Our pace was pretty slow and it was late afternoon when we
crossed over the river into Maidenhead, the first town since
A needed rest stop in Maidenhead
It was well after 5pm when we returned to the path, with
over 4 miles remaining before we reached our B&B, a place called
1) Jihad against the Crusades, a
2) The wedding will be streamed live on YouTube (5 hours worth)
3). Some hotel rooms in
Thursday, April 21
Bourne End to
Today we walked from Bourne End (east of Marlowe) to
Henley is the most famous rowing spot on the Thames
Let me deal with the difficulty factor issues first. I had no problem with the walk. Gayle began to hurt after 10 miles, mostly because of her pack. The good news, however, is that the prior day she hurt from the first mile so we see a definite improvement here. Today I also graciously carried 2.5 pounds of Gayle's luxury items in my pack in order to lighten her load. Do I get any respect? :-)
All in all, we had a great day. We started with a good English breakfast
prepared by our farmer host at
Our first B&B, Holland's Farm
We started our walk at about 9:30. After 4 something miles we came to Marlowe where we stopped in the city center for tea and a sweet. We then continued to a tiny hamlet called Hurley where we stopped for lunch at the Olde Bell Tavern. We ordered soup and salad that was exceptional. The place is a jewel with an extraordinary menu and chef.
We stopped outside of Bourn End to adjust our packs
Every thing here is so English!
After our extended lunch, we continued on our way with 7 miles to go. The countryside is subtly different, more open fields and pastures. Livestock. Fewer shaded paths (but still some). The surrounding terrain is more hilly.
As we approach
We arrived in
The view from our room at the Walled Garden B&B
We did not see any English papers today but the NY Times had an in-depth article about Kate and William. The gist of which was that Kate is both very discrete and controlling and that William may have a drinking problem.
Tomorrow, on to Purley (west of
Oh, by the way, this is Easter weekend and we have seen evidence of the Easter Bunny.
Friday, April 22
Tonight we are staying at "The Ivy Cottage" in Purely-on-Thames. More about this B&B later, but first today's walk:
We walked from
Today is Good Friday, a national holiday in
The first segment of our walk was
The Long foot bridge over the Mill Bank Weir outside of Henley
It was clear that Gayle was struggling with her backpack,
even though it was a few pounds lighter than the day before. At our first rest stop, I removed about 5
pounds of stuff from Gayle's pack and added it to mine. This will probably become the configuration
for the rest of the trip. Gayle is
carrying about 7 pounds and my pack is about 17 pounds. I seem to be able to handle the increased
load pretty well. Gayle says the new
load is much much easier than the original (estimated at 12 pounds). I suspect that her back pack, which she
The old bridge at Sonning
The next segment was Shiplake to Sonning where the map showed a pub symbol. So we planned to have lunch there. Passing through a church yard we arrived at the Bull Inn where we had an excellent delicious lunch and a pint.
The stereotype that English cuisine is uninteresting is completely outdated
After Sonning it was another few miles to
As we passed through
We took a rest under a huge tree with our back packs as pillow. We then stopped at
The long slog to Tilehurst in the shade next to the railway grade.
At Tilehurst the path left the river and climbed into higher
terrain in the
Rosalind and Gregor are the maximum hosts. This is the night that the accommodations were to include dinner. The Ivy Cottage is charming, the dinner was magnificent, we were able to do our laundry, and tomorrow, it seems, Gregor will carry our backpacks to the next stop. Also, internet is available, which was missing at our last stop.
The Ivy Cottage and our hosts, Rosalind and Gregor
Today is a milestone of sorts. We are halfway through our trip. Nine days have been completed and nine days remain. As of tonight, we have walked 120 miles (not all of it on the Path) with about 90 miles to go.
Tomorrow, South Stoke, 9 miles, a short day.
Saturday, April 23
Purley-on-Thames to Southstoke
Today has been like being on vacation. Not only was today's walk one of the shortest (9.7 miles) but our accommodating host from last night, Gregor Young, delivered our backpacks to our current accommodations, the Perch and Pike Inn in a very out of the way town called Southstoke. Thus we had a nice leisurely walk without packs. It was pure luxury.
Fields of “mustard" plant which turned out to be grape oil seed, used for bio fuel
It was really convenient to be without packs because the trail was quite different from previous days. For much of its route it veered away from the river and climbed up into the rising terrain in the North side of the river. Thus there were some steep pitches that we had to negotiate. It would have been harder with packs on. Away from the river, we passed through pastures and fields quite different from those bordering the water. And for much of the way we were in woods high above the river that could occasionally be seen well below through the trees.
After Pangborne, the trail climbed up into the hills on the
North Bank. The river was occasionally in view below.
On the way, we went through a large public park in Pangborn. It was a surprise to see the amount of rubbish left behind by the Good Friday holiday outings of yesterday. Very un-British, we thought.
We stopped for lunch in Goring, a lovely Thames-side village after about 7.5 miles and less than 2 miles from our final destination. The river-side hotel was chock full of holiday people. We had a nice lunch and terrible service from the overworked staff.
After Goring, we made a slight deviation from the Thames
Path in order to reach our accommodations which are on the opposite side of the
river. There is a similar national trail
on the opposite bank called the Ridgeway trail.
We will continue on this trail tomorrow morning a few miles to
The Perch and Pike is a funny little place, a typical English pub/inn, very old, Tudor style architecture, small rooms. It has the major advantage of also having a restaurant where we shall eat at 8pm this evening. The lady behind the desk who showed us to our room said she is also the chef, so we shall see how things go.
Outside the Perch and Pike PUB and B&B
Because of the short walk, we arrived here earlier than usual which has given us some time for reflection on topics that merit sharing.
The Weather - Ever since we arrived, the weather has been
near perfect, sunny and warm. The locals
comment on it. There has been no rain
and the 10-day forecast when I last looked yesterday showed only one day with a
significant chance of rain showers (60 percent) and that is on our last day of
walking. The minor down side is that it has
been hot, today a high of 28C (82F) and it seems hotter in the direct
sunlight. But the ground is firm and all
evidence of past muddy conditions are now baked solid and look like the
Crested Grebe - We (especially Gayle) have taken a keen
interest in the
A nesting crested grebe just feet from the foot path
Porking up - much to our amazement we are putting on weight. We expected to return much thinner. It must be those English breakfasts.
Stiles- My sister Anne did the Thames Path in 1998. One of her oft repeated laments concerned the number of stiles that had to surmounted. We are now more than halfway along the Path and have yet to encounter a single stile. Do they all come later or have they been replaced?
Border Collie - This morning we saw a charming scene, a farmer and his border collie were moving a sizable herd of cows from one pasture to another.
Jonathan's backside - Each evening we have been reviewing the many photos taken during the day. Since Gayle is the principle photographer who stops often to record the scene, the pictures have a sameness: Jonathan from the rear, Jonathan at 10 feet, Jonathan at 50 feet, Jonathan at 100 yards, Jonathan at 200 yards. One would wonder if we ever walked together. Occasionally.
Fritillaria - with reference to my sister's query, I am still waiting for an Internet link to find out what fritillaria is. But if it is a small but vividly bright yellow flower that is apparently cultivated in entire fields, then we saw it today just south of Goring.
Tomorrow, Easter Sunday, on to Shillingford. 8.0 miles, the shortest walking segment of our trip.
Sunday, April 24
Southstoke to Shillingford
Today is Easter Sunday. We are "back in the saddle again", that is, carrying our backpacks. But today's walk is the shortest of the trip, a mere 8 miles.
But first, a review of dinner at the Perch and Pike. When we arrived we learned we were the only overnight guests and the place was nearly empty. We wondered how dinner would be, just us and the owners. We went down for dinner at 8pm and the place was packed, both in the bar and in the dining room. We had a drink at the bar with conversations with the locals who were interested in our walk. It was very friendly. Then we had our dinner which was excellent. Jonathan has a particularly delicious and unhealthy dinner of "pork belly" with crackling.
Our excellent dinner at the Perch and Pike
By the way, our room was decorated with a nearly full sized reclining nude in the style of Modigliani over the bed.
Our bedroom at the Perch and Pike
This morning we had breakfast with the owner, eggs and
bacon, plus the other things. He is an
ex-Marine with years of experience in
We departed Southstoke at about 9:30. The morning was chilly, unlike the last week. It had rained overnight and obviously a cold front had passed through. There was a cold fog and a brisk breeze in our faces. Gayle bundled up like an Eskimo, but I started out in my shirtsleeves which was a mistake. Within 200 yards I was digging into the backpack for my fleece.
The Ridgeway Trail is apparently not as well-traveled as the Thames Path as the surface was somewhat rougher requiring some care in placing your next step.
After about three miles, we came to a highway with a bridge
across the river to
At this point Gayle announced that she was having a major blister attack. We stopped to inspect and to apply some Vaseline, but not much could be done. She soldered on.
We continue to Bentson, the next town, which also has a lock and weir. It was only a few miles further and by the time we arrived the holiday crowd was out in force. Just beyond the lock was a river-side marina with a busy outside restaurant. We ordered tea and a sweet and relaxed for half an hour. At this point we were only a mile from Shillingford and our hotel for the night. We pressed on and arrived around 1pm
Easter Sunday tea stop at Benson Lock
We noticed on this leg of the trip numerous communities with manufactured homes, obviously less expensive properties suggesting that people who are not wealthy or landed gentry can also own a piece of the Thames.
The Shillingford Hotel is large and sprawling and seems to be of another age. One can imagine Edwardian couples having tea in the terrace. It was very busy with families having Easter dinner. We went to our room, overlooking the river by negotiating long narrow winding corridors and steep steps. The place would be a challenge in a fire.
Lunch was an exercise in patience as the staff was short-handed, poorly trained, and very busy.
After lunch, we retired to our room to read and relax. I should note that "reading" is by way of our iPhones onto which we have uploaded several books. This has worked very well and adds no weight other than the minuscule weight of the phones which we needed anyway.
I had considered in my planning the need for mobile phones on this trip to call ahead to our accommodations, to call each other should we be separated, or to receive emergency calls from home. The cost of renting phones was not cheap and since our iPhones work with the European GSM networks, we decided just to pay the astronomic roaming charges ($1.50 per minute) in the rare cases where we needed to phone. As it turns out we have only made a couple of calls. However the incoming 2am call from Wells Fargo Bank was not appreciated.
After our afternoon of leisure, reading and napping, we went down for dinner which was very good but the service was nearly as bad as for lunch.
Tomorrow we have a long 12 mile walk to Abingdon. We pray for only minor blister problems. The weather looks, as always, to be perfect.
Monday, April 25
Shillingford to Abingdon
We had a great day today. 11.9 miles from Shillingford to Abingdon with backpacks. The weather was exceptional, not a cloud in the sky and cool enough to be comfortable while walking in only a shirt. We are very proud of our accomplishment today. Gayle had only two blisters.
We are now two thirds finished with our walk, 12 days since the Barrier, 6 days more to the Source. We have walked 149.7 miles with about 60 left to do. All in all, it could not have gone better than it has.
The route today followed the river except for a section
leaving Shillingford where we were on streets and a local highway. The signage
was poor and we made several mistakes and had to backtrack or take alternate
paths, but once established on the towpath, we had no further problems. Most of today's walking was in open fields
along the river. This seems to be the
norm now that we are really in the country.
If truth be told, I preferred the tree shaded trails that were common
We were often alone with boats and cows
We stopped after six miles for lunch at a pub in
Then we headed out for our tea break at a pub in Culham, a
mere two miles from Abington where we expected to stop at a pub for tea. Well, the pub was no more. Closed down,
perhaps years ago. So we were resting in the grass in the commons (sacked out
would be more accurate) and a couple came by and jokingly asked if we were
waiting for the pub to open. This led to
a discussion of the decline of small English villages. The gentleman noted that 40 years before, the
place where we sat was the center of the village, church over there, pub there,
butcher over there, bakery there. And a
cricket pitch in the middle. Now,
nothing. He noted that in
Resting in the village common in Culham
The footing is not as easy as in earlier days. The path is less traveled, full of "pot holes", and narrow. It is often overgrown with weeds and the ubiquitous nettle. I have come to dislike nettles since I am wearing shorts and frequently come into contact with this annoying plant. I am sure nettles have their place in nature, but I rate it only one step above poison oak.
The church steeple in Abingdon was visible for miles
We arrived at our hotel, a very ancient city center establishment, named the Crown and Thistle (a close cousin to the nettle). Our room has a four poster bed with a canopy and a bath tub three feet deep (such a luxury after a 12-mile walk). We are ignoring the generally threadbare furnishings and Elizabethan architecture. We went out for dinner and had one of the best of our trip and excellent service to boot at the Broadface Restaurant.
The court yard of the Crown and Thistle Hotel
An amazing observation I have made is the ability of the body to adapt to stress and physical demands. From my own point of view, I am doing physical things that were unthinkable two months ago. 12 miles has been no big deal. I hardly notice my 15 pound backpack. Gayle, too, had risen to the challenge.
On that line, there was some discussion before we left
suggesting that I was making this experience into a forced march rather than an
enjoyable vacation. The fact is, we have
both worked hard to get this far. We set a difficult goal for ourselves that
requires some physical discomfort. I
suppose that is part of the "enjoyment" of what were are doing. If we had wanted only fun and frolic, we
would have rented a power boat and started drinking chardonnay at 10:40
am. I am sure that when Jenny and Alan
Tuesday, April 26
We had a fairly easy walk today from Abingdon to
The Abingdon-Oxford segment was the most woodsy of the entire walk.
So, we have completed thirteen days of walking with five more to go. I have logged 158.4 miles on the GPS (including walking to and from the path) with an estimated 54 miles remaining. We are in good health and seem to be getting stronger each day. We are eating well and sleeping like logs.
To continue, we stopped for tea and shared a
"pudding", a generic term for desert, at the lock at
Sandford-on-Thames. This was almost 6
miles from our start and less than an hour out of
We saw only a little of
The cathedral in
This hotel has Wi Fi so I will be able to send this out. Internet has been spotty since we left
A technology detail: if any of you have wondered why none of our daily reports have included pictures, it is because I have not figured out a way to send any. All of our photos are taken by our digital camera which has no connection to the iPhone (on which I am writing these reports). I can also take pictures with the iPhone, but I can only send e-mail using Comcast web mail in the browser. There is no way to attach photos in the iPhone photos library to messages composed in the browser. If there are any techies among the recipients of these reports who knows how I can send the odd photo, illuminate me.
The weather forecast for the remainder of our walking shows
light rain on Friday with a chance of some showers late Thursday and early
Saturday. Obviously a weather system is
1. Peter Law reminded me that the city of
2. Howard Straus corrected my spelling of "stile" (rhymes with turnstile) which I had been spelling "style".
Finally, the issue of Fritillaria, we have obviously not yet
seen any. We are on the lookout. As Stephanie has surmised, the expanse of
yellow fields that I had cited must be mustard flower, a common enough plant in
Wednesday, April 27
We have just completed our 14th day of walking. We have 4 more days before we reach the Source. It was a long day, 13.6 miles, more than we had expected, but more about that later. We have walked 162 miles so far.
It has been one of best days of the entire walk, if not the best. We walked through mostly open fields. We passed 5 locks and weirs. The weather was perfect. We both were feeling comfortable with our feet and packs. And we saw some wonderful things.
Our conditioning seems to improve with every day. The fact that we did more than 13 miles without major complaint contrasts with day one where we did 11 miles and were very sore.
Actually, the day did not start out well. We had a bad night at the Victoria Oxford Hotel mostly because of the cold. Yesterday was quite cold and the hotel had turned off the heat. Our room was frigid and the single coverlet did not provide adequate warmth.
Half the night we were shivering until we had the sense to get up and put some more clothes on. Since I don't have a lot of choice in clothes, I slept in my jacket. I don't remember what Gayle did to keep warm. Anyway, we were somewhat sleep deprived in the morning.
We departed at our usual 9:30 and the weather was clear, windy and cool, but it warmed up as the morning progressed to shirt sleeve conditions and calm winds. Absolutely perfect walking weather.
We departed the large city of
An interesting detail of an old cast iron footbridge
across the river as
We were soon passing through open fields and a section where the river that was very wide. Gayle lagged as she photographed every swan, duck, and goose that crossed her oath. We had planned to stop and have tea at about the 3-mile mark at an inn/pub that turned out to be very charming and posh, but alas, it was only 11:00am and they were not open yet.
North of Oxford, the river was surprisingly wide
We pressed on to our intended lunch stop called the Trout Inn, not to be confused with the other four establishments on the Thames with the same name, including our planned destination for the following night. Here we had one of those sublime moments, seated at the waterside in the warm sun, eating delicious and interesting food, watching the ducks and geese cavort for our particular amusement. One beautiful male duck, with feathers of the most vivid purple came and joined us for lunch, politely. His mate, not so politely, leapt onto the table looking for a hand out. I had my usual English ale. Gayle ordered a Pimms Cup having no idea what it was. Both were enjoyed.
Our lunch mate at the Trout Inn
We resumed our walk and presently encountered a pair of bicyclists both with heavy packs. One was almost entirely deaf. His friend explained that they were biking the entire Path in the opposite direction from us. We compared notes and wished each other well and they sped off.
We continued our walk.
At about 9 miles, we departed the path (about 4/10 of a mile) for Tea at
the Talbot Inn at
The Swinford bridge had a toll of 5 pence.
The best part of a magical day, came in the last few miles. We passed through several large fields filled with ewes, obviously all pregnant or recently so. Many had already given birth, some quite recently. Lambs were running around, nursing, exploring. The new ones (often pairs) were damp, lying exhausted, next to their mothers who also looked exhausted and somewhat bewildered.
New born lambs
The last few miles of our trip involved navigating through
huge open pastures and lanes away from the river. The guide book was essential for following
the path at this point, but obviously not completely effective. After one especially long slog down a road,
it was obviously that we were lost. And
we were especially foot sore at this point.
Fortunately, we passed a man walking his a dog who informed us that that
at the Thames Path sign a mile back (the
one we had ignored it because it was obviously wrong) we should have made a
left turn and followed the field boundaries for about a half mile to our
destination. He offered to drive us to
The Ferryman Inn at Bablock Hythe is a pub/hotel right on the river. Our room had a perfect view of the water. We were greeted warmly by the owner, a blustery man running for district council as a Conservative and with eyes on an eventual parliament seat. He was not impressed with President Obama so we knew we did not have much political common ground and avoided further discussion along that line. Our room was very comfortable with an outstanding view of the river.
The outlook for the rest of trip (four days) is for two days of possible rain or rain showers with fairly long legs planned. We have about 43 more Path miles to go. Tomorrow's walk is only about nine miles long and ends at perhaps our only "luxury" destination, the Trout Inn at 175 pound sterling per night.
Thursday, April 28
Bablock Hythe to
Today we walked from Bablock
We got off to a late start, just before 10am. Our plan was to stop off in Newbridge for mid-morning tea and arrive at the Trout Inn before the 2pm end of lunch service. Thus we had 4 hours to go 9+ miles, not too ambitious a pace. But it was the first time we walked with any deadline at all and I think that is what the problem turned out to be. Gayle, as usual, had many pictures to take and our initial pace was slow. We reached Newbridge (3+ miles) by 11:15 and had a leisurely cup if tea (how else can you drink tea?). So it was almost noon when we started out with about 5 miles to go in 2 hours. And, as it turns out, it was closer to 6 miles because I estimated the distances from the map and maybe did not take all the twists and turns of the river into account. It was soon clear that we had to pick up the pace. I am sure Gayle felt the unaccustomed pressure. She already was feeling pain in her back, blisters on her feet, and was generally tired from our long hike of the prior day.
So we walked along the beautiful scenery. More than any other day, we felt alone since
there were very few walkers, few boats on the river, and not that many
critters, either wild or domesticated.
The river was getting narrow as we approached Tadpole Bridge
So we trudged along.
As usual, I was out in front and the distance between us got bigger and
bigger. I would wait for Gayle to catch
up and she would say with clenched teeth that she was "fine" her code
word for the opposite. She finally admitted that her back was killing her and
that her right foot hurt from what felt like a blister on her heel. At one point we stopped and applied
additional Vaseline to her troublesome right foot. Time was getting away from us. We were going to miss lunch and have to go
hungry until dinner time (with Gayle a fate worse than death). At our pace it looked like we would be a few
minutes late. I decided to call the
Trout Inn and ask them to give us a little slack on lunch since we, at best,
would arrive at 2pm sharp. I ordered
soup and salad. They were nice about it
and agreed that we would be served. But
we have come to know that the pubs and restaurants in the
So I decided that I, at least had better arrive as soon as
possible and that Gayle could come along at her own pace. So I took off. I had gone about a mile or so
and realized that this was really a stupid plan. To hell with lunch. I had the
water, Gayle had none. If she suffered
any real breakdown, there was nobody to help her. So I turned around and back tracked maybe a
half mile and finally met Gayle trudging along in some real pain. I removed her backpack and slung it over my
shoulder and we trudged along together for the half hour it took to get to the
The Trout Inn, our upscale accommodations
The Trout Inn is clearly a cut above our other
accommodations. Our room has a
king-sized bed, a working radiator (yea), bath robes, and dozens of
amenities. The staff is not English
gruff but rather quite gracious. It is
expensive, but, at this point in our trip, appreciated. Our 3-course dinner was good (not the best of
the trip however) and dinner was marred by an American couple discussing global
politics at a decibel level that could be heard in
Friday, April 29
Mindful of yesterday's walking difficulties, today we were able to have our packs transported to Lechlade and we took a purposefully leisurely pace in our walk. The result was a perfectly delightful walk and a memorable day.
Today was wedding day for Prince William and Kate Middleton. It was a national holiday and one where most Britons spent the morning glued to the telly.
Our task was the 11.3 miles between
Without packs we had to figure out a way to carry the basic necessities we needed to have on our person. These included our water bottle and our rain gear. Further, as we stripped off outerwear, that had to be carried somehow conveniently. Once again, Gayle's oft criticized spare shoelace collection came in handy as a necklace connected to the zipper of each rain gear packet. The rain gear weighed almost nothing and we both wore our rain gear around our neck. The water bottle was similarly attached to my belt by another shoelace. As we removed outerwear, we just tied it around our waist. Let the record show that cold blooded Gayle never removed anything except her wool gloves.
“Wedding Day” started out cold and cloudy
Our pace was slow and deliberate. We walked at perhaps a 2.5 MPH pace. At 3 miles we expected to stop for tea at the
Swan Inn at
We had a front row seat to the festivities
While we were on the path, we had a bit if excitement crossing a pasture full of cattle, mostly cows and heifers and one huge bull. It would appear that these cows had become accustomed to humans or were unusually curious. Thus when we came through the gate, it was like a slow motion stampede in our direction. We were surrounded and in close quarters with a dozen cows, several of whom were doing a sort of bucking display. Gayle was alarmed. I discovered an arm waving shoo-shoo routine had some effect in clearing a path through the bovine masses. We gave the bull a wide birth and departed the pasture.
WW II pill boxes intended to thwart the German invasion in 1940
The walk today was entirely next to the dwindling
Just before Lechlade we passed the final lock on the Thames,
Father Thames, relocated to St. James Lock, the last lock on the river.
The last three or four locks are very small with manual gate operation consisting of a huge wooden beam, perhaps twenty foot long, on each gate. To open or close the gate, the operator pushes on the beam. It’s a real throwback to an earlier technology. By the way, the locks are often unattended and the boat captains have to operate the locks themselves, a task that is actually rather complicated.
One of the charming aspects of the locks is that each one has a house for the lock keeper. They all seem to be tidy stone cottages. Very cute. Also the grounds are well kept and often have flower beds. At one lock yesterday we noticed the lock keeper working in his garden. It's a job sort of like a being a lighthouse keeper.
Only two more day of walking, about 22 miles, until we reach the Source. 183 miles and 16 days completed.
Not one stile seen, much less crossed.
We have yet to see any fritillary but we are looking.
Our digs for the evening are the Cambrai Lodge, a 4-room B&B near the edge of town. It is very comfortable with many amenities (minus Internet). We walked a few blocks and had an outstanding Indian meal knocked back by a bottle of Australian Chardonnay. Perhaps one of the best meal of our vacation with apologies to the Perch and Pike in Southstoke.
Saturday, April 30
Lechlade to Cricklade
Today we walked the 11.7 miles from Lechlade to Cricklade. As of this evening we have walked 195 miles in 17 days, a 11.5 mile average per day. The weather was sunny and warm but with a very strong and blustery north east wind, a tail wind pushing us along.
We were able to arrange carriage of our backpacks with the B&B proprietor. But it was expensive. Gayle said it was worth every penny. Somehow the masochistic side of my personality thinks it is cheating. I seem to be able to handle the pack, but it is clearly more of a problem for Gayle.
Of all the days of this trip so far, this was the least pleasing from the point of the route of the path. The first half of the day, six plus miles, was away from river. A one mile stretch was along a busy highway that was unpleasant at best and possibly dangerous as the cars and trucks passed inches from us as we balanced on a narrow foot path. The second half of the day was much nicer. The path ran along the usual tow path route next to the river, but the overall impression of this day was not that favorable.
We passed many large fields of "mustard"
flower. They are about neck high with a
vivid yellow flower. These plants are
clearly cultivated since they end at the boundary of the fields. We learned later that these are not mustard
plant at all. They are oil seed grape. The plant is converted into bio fuel by
pressing the oil out of the seeds. Bio
fuel is big in
The grape seed oil plants were neck high
When we rejoined the river it was greatly reduced in size and hardly navigable. It was typically 25 feet in width and full of reeds but still moving swiftly. At one point we saw two kayakers battling the fierce headwind going down stream.
A greatly diminished river Thames after Lechlade
We have not yet seen a single stile on the Thames Path. Coming onto Lechlade there was a stone stile giving access to the town square but one could easily walk around it. It seemed to be an historical artifact.
We had lunch in a pub in Castle Eaton. There was a busy Saturday crowd with your typical grumpy barmaid
We are tired. Contrary to my recent assertions that we are getting stronger as the trip progresses, it seems there is a cumulative fatigue setting in. It is good that the packs were transported for us. With no packs, Gayle does well. It is good that we are nearing the end. I am surprised to be thinking that. In the beginning, I was hoping it would never end since it was so magical. It is no less magical, but it is also tiring.
Cricklade is an old English town, very charming. The church steeple is visible for last half mile before the town.
Our hotel is funky. It has an ancient exterior with the pub on the street level. Several uncompleted renovation projects are underway. Our room is accessed by a rear court yard through a creaky wooden floor that says fire exit. The room which is in the attic space has huge wooden rafters held together by huge iron spikes. The bath has ultra-modern Italian fixtures that seem out of place. The housekeeping is careless, dust over everything, no coffee, tea, soap or toilet paper. The owner seems nice enough, very quick to provide the missing items. Ominously, they do not serve breakfast. I can't plug in any of my electronics for recharge.
Our funky room at the Vale Hotel in Cricklade
The owner says he can arrange for the transport of our packs tomorrow by taxi. That is a relief since it tomorrow is a long day
We had dinner at the White Stag pub across the street. It was an average to below average meal where, for example my steak dinner arrived as a piece of gammon (pork).
I am just about finished with my first iBook, Band of Brothers by Steven Ambrose. It was a memorable TV mini-series but an average book. Gayle has knocked off two iBooks since we started.
We have been witness to the life cycle of the
dandelion. When we started over two
weeks ago, we saw many fields totally yellow with their flower. Lately, the fields are white with their
mature seed fluff. Today, we passed
fields with empty stalks. It would seem that all dandelions in
Sunday, May 1
Cricklade to The Source (Kemble)
This was our final day of our walk. So as to avoid any suspense, we successfully made it to the Source. We felt a great sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. But this day, surely was our most difficult.
I can confirm that our hotel in Cricklade, the Vale Hotel, was our least favorite, surpassing in that category the Victoria Oxford Hotel. Foremost among our gripes was that they did not serve breakfast. It turns out that nowhere else in Cricklade at 9am on a Sunday morning can one get breakfast. Fortunately, there was a Tesco Express a few blocks away, so we were able to obtain two ready made sandwiches and some fruit which we took back to the room and ate while huddled under the blankets. Did I mention that there was no heat? The electrical outlets did not work, so I was unable to charge any of our gadgets, in particular the GPS. (By scouting around the back yard of the hotel, I found a live outlet so the GPS got a short dose of charging in the morning). There was no hot water in the sink. No coffee or tea next to the coffee pot. No soap or shampoo. And not enough TP for normal use. This hotel situation put us in a generally negative mood to start our day.
However, one good thing, we were able to arrange transport
of our back packs by taxi to our final accommodations for a reasonable price,
19 pounds. Thus we departed charming
(really) Cricklade at about 10am with our goal, the
We had significant problems today with navigation. Three times we got "lost" or a better term is misdirected by missing Thames Path markers. We thought that this was quite careless and it significantly affected our progress.
A National Trails Marker
The first misdirection, and the most serious, was shortly
after leaving Cricklade. We missed a
marker (if it ever existed) to cross over the
The path was actually quite lovely and generally kept
somewhat near the diminished
The river snaked between large ponds formed from abandoned gravel pits.
At about 6 miles into the morning walk we came to the
As we were getting ready to leave, I discovered that the sock if my left foot was completely soaked in blood. It didn't hurt very much. I had no choice but to put my shoe back on and depart for the next seven miles of the afternoon hike.
Both of us were feeling rather tired.
We continued on for a few more miles at which point, we had our second misdirection and ended up in the middle of a town, Summerford Keynes, about a mile off the Path. We took this opportunity to stop at a pub for afternoon tea and get directions back to the path. In some ways, this was a needed break, but it probably added half a mile or more to our mileage. I was surprised, when Gayle suggested that surely after 18 days we had achieved most of our goal and why didn't we call a taxi. I said I was continuing, even if I had to walk on my stumps. We departed through a lovely Norman style church yard and rejoined our lost path.
The Norman church yard in Somerford Keynes
which we visited due to a navigation error
Passing through the
At this point we were approaching Kemble, closest village to
the Source and the village from which we will catch the train back to
We retraced our steps, another extra half mile, then passed through a huge pasture filled with reclining cows, and with some excitement approached the location where the Source should be. Neither of us knew exactly what we would find to mark the spot. I saw something angular ahead at the edge of the pasture. I said to Gayle, "It's either a monument or a large trash basket". It turned out to be a large stone monument faintly engraved with the following:
A completed Journey
Off to the left was one of the ubiquitous sign posts of the type we had seen every day for the last 18 days. It pointed East the way from which we had come:
Thames Barrier London 184 miles 294 km
A reminder of from whence we came
We took the obligatory photos and lingered a few
minutes. We then departed via another
public footpath to our accommodations for the night, The Thames Head Inn. We wondered as we approached the
Alas, my foot was a mess. It was a great feat or pure stupidity that I had walked for 13 miles with blood squishing in my boot. Gayle inspected the damage and said that were three lacerations including the biggest on the heel two inches in length. The wounds were still bleeding. With only limited bandages, she cleverly applied a set of mini-pads to the foot to successfully stem the flow. We will see what the morrow brings so far as the need for further medical attention.
Tomorrow we return to
It is worth commenting that we had 18 consecutive days of beautiful weather. Never once did we need our rain gear. The weather was mostly warm, shirt sleeve weather. The locals comment how unusual this us. Today the London Times reported that this had been the warmest April in 350 years of record keeping and the 10th driest in that same period. Further, April 23rd (the day before Easter) was the hottest day (82F) in April since 1949.
And so ended our quest to walk the Thames Path.