Thames Path – Day 5

Day 5 – April 27 Windsor to Maidenhead
Weather: Sun and some cloud B&B: Dee and Steve’s B&B
Departed: 16:15 Arrived: 18:30 Distance Today: 6.6 mi / 10.5 km
Total Distance: 60.6 mi / 97.5 km Pint of the Day: Fuller’s London Pride

I had earmarked today as a rest and research day and so I took some time out this morning to wander the streets of Windsor. I’d spent a day here in 1996 at which time I visited the castle and so I didn’t feel compelled to do the tourist thing. Instead I spent some time nosing around a few antique stores in Windsor and across the bridge in Eton. I enjoy collecting ephemera and vintage photos and in one shop I found thousands of the latter. There were so many in fact that it was a bit overwhelming. I spent about an hour rummaging around and had a good chat with the owner. I picked up a couple of items and then headed back to the library to continue my research.

To be honest I was a bit stumped as to how I should continue my Windsor research on my great-grandfather. There was a different reference librarian on today and so I explained my situation to her. We used google street view to have a look at the house Herbert Leslie Clifford lived at and we came to the conclusion that it was likely new at the time and a bit posh for a postman. What I really need to do is find out what his occupation was so that I can rule him out. She suggested I contact their history librarian as he enjoys challenges such as this and so I will email him shortly.

I headed back to my room for a rest and a cuppa. When I checked the BBC weather website it displayed a big sunny icon, the first of the trip, for late afternoon and early evening. It still predicted a big nasty storm for Sunday and so I made the quick decision to forgo my rest day and make for Maidenhead. I left my b&b at 4:15pm, easily the latest starting time of any walk I’ve ever done, but Maidenhead is less than 7 miles away and so I had lots of time.

There were plenty of dark clouds around when I left but there were some blue patches as well. I found a river crossing on a motorway bridge just on the edge of town and was soon back on the Thames Path. I skirted the edges of fields and large parks while I surveyed Eton Wick to the north. After about half an hour I came to a path diversion near Dorney. Dorney Lake will be the site of the Olympic rowing competition and so walkers are being diverted around the northern perimeter. A large metal fence has been erected around the site and I used this as my guide whenever the signage left something to be desired (and it did in places, especially if you are approaching it from the east).

It was while walking around Dorney Lake that the skies cleared and the sun shone. It was a gorgeous afternoon for walking and I felt I had made the right decision. And we can all sleep well tonight because it was while walking the diversion that I spotted my first flock of sheep. The bovines are still proving elusive but like the truth, I know they are out there somewhere.

I rejoined the river and enjoyed some excellent views along a pretty stretch that passed Bray on the opposite bank. As I neared Maidenhead I passed some very nice riverside properties … me thinks there is some dosh in these parts. Just before reaching the town I walked under Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s famous railway bridge known as the Sounding Arch due to its spectacular echo. I recently watched a program that featured this bridge, I believe it was Michael Portillo’s Great British Railway Journeys.

The only downside to the walk was the long march from the river to the railway station, which I’ll have to repeat tomorrow. At this point my plan is to walk at least as far as Marlow but if the weather holds I intend to go all the way to Henley and then take Sunday off.

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