Thames Path - Windsor to Chertsey

3 November 2007

The autumn weather continues very mild (15C this afternoon) and today was sunny too. I think today may be the end, but all the more reason to make the most of it, and today George and Stephen returned to the Thames Path for the first time since August. We had already walked the section to Windsor, and the section from Chertsey, so this would fill in a nice gap.


After getting the train to Windsor and Eton Riverside station (and it is remarkable how popular the weekend trains to Windsor are) we started our walk proper from Windsor Bridge, from where we look downstream towards the weir and the lock cut for Romney Lock.


Looking back to the pedestrian-only Windsor Bridge from Eton (right bank) into Windsor: opened in 1824, it closed to vehicles in 1970 when cracks were found in some of the cast iron segments.


The lock cut leading to Romney Lock, with the warm weather prolonging the autumn colours this year


The Thames Path is diverted to the east bank from the original course of the towpath, for "security" reasons, although one wonders whether it is really to keep the plebs further away from the royals. This is a leisure river, with lots of boats around (including a day-trip boatyard a few hundred metres downstream) and there is no physical barrier to boats disgorging people onto that bank. Adding a decent fence a few metres from the riverbank and allowing the Path to return to the west bank would seem to improve things for walkers and add to security.


George in the woods as we approach Datchet.


First lunch spot was on a bench at Datchet.


After some road-side walking, we returned to the riverbank with the knowledge that the remainder of the walk was on the banks. We crossed Albert Bridge to regain the west bank and soon reach Old Windsor Lock (named after Old Windsor, not the lock being old).


The river was quite calm in Old Windsor


We then reached the meadows of Runnymede


A long zoom to the Magna Carta temple: dating from 1957 it was donated by the American Bar Association. Somewhere hereabouts it is traditionally believed that King John was forced to sign the Magna Carta, an important stage in the centuries-long process of the move to constitutional law, and which influenced the United States Constitution and Bill of Rights.


One of a number of such notices found along today's route. The path does not run across farmland, and since the Control Zone was lifted on 3 October, it is no longer a legal requirement to keep dogs on a short lead. Other notices even went to far as to say the path should only be used if essential (as well as repeating the bit about dogs being on a short lead), which again is putting inappropriate pressure on legitimate footpath users. If such notices are being posted, then they should be updated as soon as the legal situation changes. Advising additional precautions is fair enough, but stating the legal situation is one thing when it is another is not appropriate for Government.


An attractive boat by Bellweir Lock


Bellweir Lock, just upstream of the M25 bridges.


A short way below the M25 bridges, we pass a coal post, erected under the London Coal and Wine Duties Continuance Act 1861, to mark the boundary of the London district and thus that coal and other commodities were subject to measuring and taxation in passing this point. We passed another one just before the end of the walk by Chertsey Bridge (the Thames forming the boundary around here).


After walking past a chemical factory, we reach Staines and Staines Bridge, which we use to cross once more to the east bank.


Walking along the Thames Path through Staines, a look northwards.


We continued along the east bank past Laleham, and eventually reach Chertsey Bridge, which we crossed somewhat gingerly, the pavements being very narrow and the cars travelling much too far given the narrow pavements.

Total distance 22.5 km (19.6 km on the Thames Path) in 4 hours 40 mins.

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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson