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After an 8 month hiatus the project to walk the length of the Thames has finally received it’s second instalment! It’s been tough keeping these regular posts going despite quite a busy period at my day job, plus the training for my upcoming 24 hour bike ride at the iconic Brands Hatch race track, but trust me they will keep coming!

Andrew, my walking buddy, and I continued our several year long tradition of a Friday night meeting in a random London train station before rumbling off laden down with camping gear to some far flung corner of the UK for a weekend adventure.

Our train dropped us off soon after in the not so exotic town of Swindon before hopping in a cab to resume our trek down the river Thames where we last left off, the Halfpenny bridge in Lechlade-on-Thames. We ceremoniously slapped the keystone of the arch under the bridge, pictured above, before setting off a mile down the river to our first campsite…

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Even this first tiny stint proved eventful as a huge splash from behind us signalled that a cow had pushed one of its herd-mates into the rather chilly river. The poor thing managed to drag itself out soaked to the skin to a chorus of distressed moos from the rest of the group. We continued on to the lightsof the he Trout Inn only to be told their camping field was full…

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It seems that this is usually the standard response as it is expected that you are arriving in a car with some monstrous 9 person tent, after quickly explaining we were hiking with a couple of tiny one person tents some space was soon found and after a nightcap (make that several nightcaps) we crawled into our tents until morning…

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This project had taken a long hiatus due to injury and illness on each of our parts and it felt great to be walking down the river again. We were still heading down fairly wild paths running into only the odd other walker with some rather interesting WWII bunkers to keeps us interested…

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Walking along a flat river may seem quite a tame adventure but you’d be surprised about the obstacles that may block your path, such as a stubborn herd of cows blocking a gate…

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After trying several tactics to move them, culminating in mooing loudly at them, we found that gently walking towards the cows elicited a “Moses and the Red sea” type effect as they slowly parted and peacefully allowed us through.

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The path gradually became more and more Cotswold-y as the green agriculture faded to golden fields of Rapeseed and the river was punctuated with more and more bridges made from the yellow Cotswold stone. After 17 miles of plodding we took our leave in the town of Newbridge…

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As gentrification has spread it’s way along the Thames we found out that the only accommodation in the area was a £120 “eco-hut”. Which by the operators own admission was basically a hut with no amenities. So what are you to do in such a situation? The tried and tested strategy of course. Spend your campsite budget on a filling meal with a couple of drinks, wait for nightfall, and then go off in search of a field to sneakily camp in.

After a short jaunt down the river we found a suitable field and scanned it with our head lamps to check we weren’t sharing it with any cows. Despite our best attempts I was awoken by the sound of gentle mooing and the view of several cows slowly masticating their way towards us. We decided to get out of their way, packing up and heading off down the river early…

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The scenery really began to change as we rolled on towards Oxford, our goal for the day…

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The paths started to get wider and soon we were no longer the only people heading down the river for fun. The sight of a group of stand up paddle-boarders gliding down stream made me both jealous of their more pleasurable choice of transport as well as more as determined that we were the ones on the more ascetic path.

Soon we were sharing the path with crowds as Port Meadow signalled our arrival into the edge of Oxford…

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Just a few more hundred metres and Osney bridge marked the edge of this stint down the Thames. We slapped the marker at the end of the bridge with plans to back in early October for the next leg to Pangbourne. Hopefully the paths become quiet against once we escape the rather relative hustle and bustle of Oxford!

I’ve hoped you enjoyed this post. There’s plenty more lined up over the next months which be detailing trips I have got planned to the Carpathian mountains of Romania, a non-stop 24 hour cycling challenge as well as the next instalment of the Thames Path walk. I’ll be posting more regular updates on my facebook page if you’d like to follow along…

https://www.facebook.com/121degs

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