Viewing single post of blog Thames Run: Source to Sea

Today was another long stretch, which I was feeling a little nervous about, given that the weather was set to be warm again. However, I had had good sleep and  breakfast. Having already exprienced a similar distance on day 3, I was also better prepared. Following that run in the heat a few days before, I invested in a breathable running cap, which I had found in a camping shop on the site I had stayed in that night. It made a huge difference. I also think that my body is starting to get used to this. During the run, I found that if i dipped the cap into the river every now and then and put back onto my head, it really cooled me down. It also keeps the sun off my face very well, which was just as well as a few minutes into the run I realised that I had forgotten my sunglasses.

The first stretch from the bridge at Goring led me through shaded paths immediately next to the river for amost 3 miles, before there was a detour inland. I’m not really sure why. On the map this area has the name River Lane Plantation, which suggests it is some kind of farm. Although the detour was frustrating, it did take me through some woods, which was pleasant and provided much-needed shade. The terrain was however, quite undulating , with some steep slopes that mountain bikers would enjoy, but I decided that I didn’t want to waste too much energy this early trying to run up them. I kept that for the flat and downhill parts. As I neared Whitchurch-on-Thames, I noticed a long fence bordering the blocked off area- just to reinforce the fact that this was not to be entered. Was that really necessary?

To rejoin the river, the path went through the main street in Whitchurch on Thames, where it crossed the bridge over to Pangbourne on the other side. It was a bit confusing , exactly where the path continued, as signs were few. I took a guess at Panbourne meadows, which adjoined the river in the right direction. This section was quite open for a couple of miles until Mapledurham, where there was nother diversion inland. I had tried to find an alternative route, closer to the river, but it was mainly the marina, railway and housing developments that blocked a ossible route through.

This was quite a big detour that took you round all of these and which seemed to go on for ever. Eventually, a path a private wood took me back down to the river again as the path followed alongside the railwayline to Tilehurst and then the north edge of Reading. By this time I was nearing 12 miles and past half way is always a good point to reach. The next stretch went through Thames Valley Park Nature Reserve, which was beautifully green and borders Caversham and the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lakes on the other side, although I couldn’t see that far. A recreation park was full of activity as I approached Sonning, where I had to cross over the beautiful double bridge at Sonning Mill to the other side.

It was a this point I saw a sign for 3 miles to Shiplake and I started to feel much closer to my destination. I was impressed to see Shiplake School allow access right through right by the river. I had almost reached Shiplake itself, around new section of the path that takes you much closer to the river, when I realised I hadn’t been paying attention to the mobile phone on my left arm that is my live tracker and its battery was nearly drained. I thought I had caught it in time and plugged it into one of the battery packs that I carry on me and it seemed to do the trik for a short while before going completely dead. After much frustration and swearing I realised i could run the tracker from the same mobile phone I was using to live stream from Facebook. It wasa bit awkward, but it was better than nothing. At least I could continue the live track, but it was somewhat distracted me from the last part of the run.

This diverted back inland into Shiplake to avoid the railway and then at the back of some very grand houses and the Bolney Estate. After that, it was a short stretch through more green fields and an amazing double bridge crossing at marsh Lock and Weir before reaching Henley. This was distinctive in the flow of people in the park that leads on to the main path to the Bridge. This seemed to go on for ever, as the last mile always does and I was glad to see an ice cream van in the distance once I had stopped.

Overall, apart from the frustrations with technology, this was not a bad day at all and far better than I had expected. Tomorrow, I am pleased to say, will be a shorter run.