Tadpole Bridge to Bablock Hythe.
The taxi drops us back at Tadpole bridge. The Thames Path now goes through Chimney Meadows National Nature Reserve, a vast area of wildlife rich meadows managed by the local Wildlife Trust. This section also has two more remote locks with lovely gardens. There are no villages close to the Path. There are more geese than ducks on the river and large family groups take to the water as we approach.
Despite its general isolation we are constantly reminded of nearby Brize Norton airfield as planes land and take off regularly and those large helicopters ply back and forth. Where is all the traffic from?
We pass the wooden Tenfoot Bridge (although it’s much wider than 10 feet) and Newbridge that is so new it dates from the 13th century. Adjacent to the latter is the Rose Revival where we called in for a reviving drink, As seems to be the normal with these Thames-side gastropubs the place was packed with diners eating average but hyped up pub food, Us booted walkers sloped off to the beer garden with our drinks to enjoy an elicit banana. Sandbags were a reminder of the threat of high water.
Even after Newbridge the now much larger Thames is still remote and amazingly rural. I spent a lot of time watching Black Headed Gulls swooping over the river presumably catching insects. They always seem more common inland than at the coast.
At Bablock Hythe, where there used to be a ferry there is still a pub, luckily for us right on route for a nights stay.
Who did we meet today?
There is more boat traffic now – seems to be two types, the traditional long boats and the luxury cruisers. The people living on the canal boats were always happy for a chat on where they were going and the finer points of their well looked after barges.
On a smaller river boat we met a lady walking the Path with her husband cruising their boat down stream alongside. A good solution to Thames Path walking – luggage transfer, coffee stops and accommodation all in one place.
We were caught up by an Aussie couple walking the Path which they had organised from home. They were enjoying the scenery, bird life and the beer.
All good stuff. I’m interested o see how far down the river you wll go.