All posts by Noel Churchill

The thing I loved most about being a boy scout was hiking. And camping. Getting out in to the countryside and walking the hills and valleys and villages. I spent many happy days walking in the Brecon Beacons and the Welsh Borders, and the West Country. Of course one cannot remain a boy scout for ever and soon real life came along and walking took a back seat to cars and girls, and working in order to pay for cars and girls.

S2S Leg 8: Windsor to Marlow


I can’t drive in my walking boots so my normal routine is to park at my end point, then finish getting dressed before catching a train to my start point. So today I parked at Marlow station, opened the boot of the car and took out two boots and… one sock. At the same moment Jackie was back at home wondering why I had left a sock in the middle of the living room floor. Fortunately there is an outdoor store near Windsor station so on arrival I was able to choose a new pair of socks from a surprisingly wide range. The sales assistant complimented me on my choice of sock. He complimented me on my choice of walking route. I’m not sure if he was after a tip or a date, but he got neither.
Continue reading S2S Leg 8: Windsor to Marlow

S2S LEG 7: Staines to Windsor

Staines_WindsorAt last! Back to the river! It felt good to get my boots back on, it felt good to get out in the fresh air on a lovely sunny day!

As the walk is now entering what is home territory for many of you, dear readers, I sent out an email to see if anyone wanted to join me. Some of you came up with inventive excuses for not coming out: having operations, night-shifts, living in Australia etc etc., but Gary couldn’t think of anything quickly enough so the two of us headed out from Staines railway station back to the point where I last left the route all that time ago.

Continue reading S2S LEG 7: Staines to Windsor

S2S LEG 6: Richmond to Staines


Feeling a bit spaced-out following strong coffee on an empty stomach and getting constant reminders of last night’s curry, I returned to the towpath at Richmond. A towpath that was very muddy and strewn with debris suggesting that there had been a very high tide very recently.

It had been so long since leg 5 that I’d forgotten a lot about how to do it. I forgot about how the rucksack works and what all the compartments do. I also forgot my own rules: if it might rain, go back to bed. Don’t try to do too much when you’ve been off for a while… etc. etc.
Continue reading S2S LEG 6: Richmond to Staines

S2S Leg 5: Wapping to Richmond

5 Wapping RichmondLondon is not such a big city. I walked from the east-end to leafy Surrey in a few hours – and that’s including the river’s meandering along the way. Starting point was of course the last leg’s end-point, The Prospect of Whitby. Had it been open and serving breakfast, this day may have turned out entirely differently. But it was shut, so following a quick trip to the Thames foreshore via Pelican Stairs (the pub’s original name was The Pelican) I was on my way, and soon into familiar territory.
Continue reading S2S Leg 5: Wapping to Richmond

S2S Leg 3: Tilbury to Beckton

3 Tilbury Beckton IMG_2751There is a reason that the official Thames Path only goes as far east as the Thames Barrier, and the reason is this: Dagenham. Oh, and Tilbury. No offence to the good people of this part of Essex but there is so little of the Thames that is accessible in this area that a river walk becomes a walk along busy A-roads. But that’s my choice and in future legs there will be less roadside, more riverside and countryside. There will also be more cafes, ice cream vans and pubs. I’m sure it’s coincidental, but as soon as the latter was mentioned Russ became interested in joining me on the next leg. Continue reading S2S Leg 3: Tilbury to Beckton

S2S Leg 2: Pitsea to Tilbury

The peasants are revolting…

2 mapIMG_2702A country park seems an odd way to honour the leader of the Peasants’ Revolt of 1381. Or perhaps a recreational and educational facility to be enjoyed by anyone and everyone free of charge is emblematic of how far we have come since the dark medieval days of serfdom. But the Wat Tyler Country Park is not just about the revolt, but about many areas of history and nature. On another occasion I’m sure I could spend an interesting few hours here. There are historic buildings, sculptures and nature trails. They even have “Educational Toilets”. Unfortunately they were out of order so I didn’t learn anything there.

Continue reading S2S Leg 2: Pitsea to Tilbury

S2S Leg 1: Southend to Pitsea

Southend to Pitsea. Well, Benfleet as it Turned Out…

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IMG_2617A lone fisherman and I were the only passengers on the first train of the day to clatter its way up Southend Pier. On the way I read a poster about “the longest pier in the world” (1.3 miles) and began to doubt the wisdom of starting my walk at the wet end. But it is a good marker and it did feel like I was standing where river and sea meet. At 9am I tightened my bootlaces and headed back towards dry land. When I had left home three hours earlier it had been cold, frosty even, but as I walked west along the seafront the sun was out and the temperature was fighting its way upwards. The promenade was becoming busy with walkers, dog-walkers, joggers and cyclists.
Continue reading S2S Leg 1: Southend to Pitsea