Afore ye go: a Thames overview 184 miles
Rivers never go in a straight line. If you enjoy A to B rides, as I do, following the course of a river can be eternally frustrating. It’s always a struggle to create a balance between the desire to arrive and the joy of the journey. For me, the balance is nearly always tipped in favour of arriving, which leads to cutting some corners to get to the ‘good bits’. You may call this ‘cherry-picking’, the ‘Classic FM’ of travelling…..but you have to bear in mind that the Thames Path is mainly for walkers only. It is not a bridleway or byway, but can be shared space between walkers and cyclists through cities like Reading, Oxford and London
So, much of our journey was pieced together from Sustrans routes 4 and 5, and yes, we did straighten out some of the wiggles in the river, but we did visit, or pass through, many of the principal towns and cities on the Thames. It has to be said that following a river from its still-dry source, seeing it gather size and volume as the journey progresses, and observing how the river integrates into the lives of the people who live along its banks……..in miniature, it’s a journey through life itself. It has a beginning and an end. It goes from conception to birth, through its infancy and childhood to adulthood, maturing into a fully fledged river……until, of course, it spills out into the North Sea, and is no more. There’s probably a deeper meaning and purpose to such journeys along rivers…..but then I’m only a ‘bear of very little brain’ who likes to turn pedals. I’ll leave you to ponder the subtleties……..