I’m back in Canada and the little black cloud that followed me around Britain has somehow managed to make the 4500-mile journey as well. With the rain falling I thought this would be as good a time as any to post a follow-up on my Thames Path walk.
Although the weather and the footpath conditions were often grim I’ve tried my best not to let that colour my opinion of the walk itself. Overall I’m very glad I did it and given the time I had the Thames Path fit perfectly into my schedule. The walk can be comfortably completed in two weeks and without the need for any 20+ mile days. If you prefer flat terrain to fells then the Thames Path is an excellent choice as, with the exception of a few minor diversions, there are no climbs at all. Arranging accommodation and public transportation is relatively easy due to its close proximity to many major centres in the Thames valley. I was able to base myself in five locations (London, Windsor, Henley, Abingdon and Cricklade) and use buses or trains to commute to and from the path. In retrospect the only modification I would make is to stay one night each in Lechlade and Cricklade, although this was a moot point for me as I had no need to walk to the headwaters (they came to me).
What the Thames Path lacks is the variety of terrain and vistas that I prefer. As I mentioned in my previous post I really enjoyed the circular walk around Ross-on-Wye for that very reason. If I were to do it again I would take more time and spice it up by deviating from the river and connecting with other footpaths when possible. Having said that I can’t see myself doing the Thames Path again as there are just too many other great places to walk in Britain … although that’s not to say I wouldn’t start my next walk in Lechlade and make my way to the source before moving on.
If you are planning a Thames Path walk I would strongly recommend going in late summer or early fall when the danger of flooding is lower. I was happy with my decision to walk upstream from London and into progressively more tranquil surroundings, although I know that walking towards London seems to be more popular.
Last but not least, before returning to London I spent several days in Chester and it was here that I solved the mystery surrounding my great-grandfather Herbert Clifford! It took nearly 15 years to crack but I got there in the end. My only regret is that I ran out of time and could not determine exactly where on the Wirral peninsula he is buried. I will return there on my next trip and I might even incorporate that location into my next long walk. I will post my findings on my family history blog and will post a link to it from here as soon as I do.