Walk completed August 16, 2014

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 17, 2014 Day 2 -- Monkey Island to Marlow, 12 miles

Despite a reasonable search, I was unable to find any monkeys on Monkey Island. There were several
resident peacocks, however, and they screeched all night pretending to be monkeys. If I were the manager of the hotel, I would please all the guests by serving roast peacock at the next holiday dinner.

Perhaps there once were monkeys on the island, but if so it was a long time ago. In 1738, the third Duke of Marlborough decorated the ceiling of his fishing lodge with images monkeys engaged in outdoor human recreation –boating, fishing, hunting. Nobody seems to know what motivated the Duke to paint monkeys, but I suspect that he just painted over images of peacocks. In any event, the hotel has been in business since 1840, so it’s probably seen many generations of peacocks, and the current ones think they own the place.

Today turned out to be dry and sunny, and the scenery was much more vibrant than yesterday. Most of the scenery consisted of large mansions fronting on the Thames, hidden only by their accompanying yachts. The path, itself, follows the riverbank, generally passing through lovely private gardens and manicured lawns. Originally the footpath followed the historic towpath, but in more recent decades, portions were relocated from one side of the river to the other, probably depending on which group of wealthy residents had the most influence with the local authorities.

Large watercraft are still navigating the river, whose current is controlled by strategic use of weirs that converted a free flowing river with sections of rapids into a pool and drop river with long sections  of flat water. Boats use locks to ascend or descend from one pool to the next.

At Bray Lock, I noticed two swans accompanying a boat through the lock. When I asked the volunteer lock keeper, Graham, if he operates the lock for the swans as well as for boats, he chuckled, remarking that the swans have learned that if they follow a boat into the lock, the can move upstream or down without having to fly over the weir.

Most of the walkers I encountered today were either dog walkers (I’m still in a heavily populated area near London), or day hikers. I did meet my first Thames Path through-walker, Robert, who lives near Exmoor and started at the Thames Source only five days ago. He’s carrying a large pack, and is camping along the way. Maybe I should consider camping, because he didn’t mention anything about peacocks.


© 2014 Ken Klug


  1. Hi Ken,

    We met you on the Thames Path yesterday. Remember us - the couple from Kenilworth in the Midlands? Well anyway we want to wish you good luck! And keep writing the blog - it'll turn out to be a fascinating record I'm sure.
    Brian & Hiromi

    1. Unfortunately, when we met it was my first morning walking, and I didn't have the presence of mind to take your picture for the blog. Perhaps you can intercept me somewhere along the way, and I'll have a second chance.

  2. Making friends already, imagine that.....enjoying the peacocks too, life is good! At least you have nice weather, take care and please don't do anything I wouldn't do. Have fun.

    1. That request doesn't place a whole lot of restrictions on me.

    2. Knock yourself out Sir Lost-a-Lot!

  3. I just thought I'd let you know that the volunteer lock keeper at Bray is my dad :) He told us all about you, love the picture of him. Good Luck!
    Penelope (Graham's daughter)