S2S Leg11: Cholsey to Culham

11 Cholsey CulhamAnnoyed. Really rather miffed, actually. You see, when the Highways Agency closes a road, they put great big signs across the carriageway informing you of the fact. They use cones and flashing lights to reinforce the message, so that there is no mistaking the fact that the road is, indeed, closed. However, when the Environment Agency closes a footpath, say for example the Thames Path, they will make a sign, but they will then tuck it away in a bin enclosure alongside said footpath, i.e.  not anywhere that someone walking said path is bound to see it. The sign will state “Diverted Footpath” and will have a bold black arrow on it – but the bold black arrow will point in the exact direction that the aforementioned walker was planning to walk anyway so even if he did spot the carefully hidden sign, why would he change his route? Well, I’ll tell you why – because the Environment Agency supplemented their sign (the one with the arrow pointing in the wrong direction) with a hand-written note on A4 paper which they put in a plastic bag and stuck to the sign. The note said “cross the bridge to the other side and follow the diversion”, and the plastic bag ensured that the note would be covered in rainwater and condensation so that you couldn’t read it unless your nose was six inches away. Now that really got my dander up. And you will see that this rather spoiled my day. Following this bulletin, there will be a strongly worded email to the Environment Agency. Grrrr…
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S2S Leg 10: Sonning to Cholsey

10 Sonning CholseyThe only leg that starts from my front door! Not that I live on the riverside (except in my dreams), it still took me 45 minutes to get back to the river, but at least there was no public transport involved in getting started.

West of  Reading Bridge I came across a group of half a dozen elderly folk walking along the river. As I overtook them one gentleman said to me “how far are you going today?” and feeling a bit smug I replied “I’m going to Cholsey, should be about 20 miles or so”, he replied “Oh, we’re going to Cholsey as well!”. Whaat?! I’m gonna have to seriously up my game here… but then he added “but we’re doing most of it by train”. Oh thank God. But just imagine if I were to bump into them again, at Cholsey, at the end of a long day’s walking… What would be the chances of that?
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S2S Leg 9: Marlow to Sonning

9 - Marlow SonningI walked to the local station and travelling a couple of stops before changing trains, travelling a couple more stops, changing again and trundling along on the Marlow Donkey to, well, Marlow.

For much of the train journey I was accompanied by people wearing wellies, and day-glo makeup, and flowers in their hair. Festival-goers either heading to the site for a day’s fun, or heading back home for a shower after last night’s fun. And a very drunk man (at 9am. Not judging, just sayin’…) whom I told to get his feet off the seat so that I could sit down. He was slouched on a half-empty (half-full? Was he an optimistic drunk?) bottle of whisky. Had I realised how drunk he was I might have just sat somewhere else. Not for the fear of violence but the fear of vomit. But happily he managed to keep it down until I left the train at Maidenhead.
Continue reading S2S Leg 9: Marlow to Sonning

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.

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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

A Man Walking