Many remarkable people found their identities on rivers: Cleopatra on the Nile; Lewis and Clark on the Missouri; Mark Twain on the Mississippi; Jeff Bezos on the Amazon. This is the story of my 600+ mile walk along the waterways of southern England in the summer of 2014, and the remarkable people I met along the way. It is best read in chronological order, so I recommend starting with the earliest posting in the Blog Archive list in the right margin.
Walk completed August 16, 2014
Monday, June 23, 2014
June 23, 2014, Day 8, Tadpole Bridge to Lechlade, 9 Miles
was a rest day for me – only 9 miles. After a busy weekend along the river, I
was looking forward to a quiet, uneventful walk. John, the lock keeper at Rushey
Lock, assured me that today would be a quiet day on the river. He was kind
enough to take some time to explain the operation of the river’s weir system,
which controls the flow of the water all the way to London. It’s hard to imagine
the narrow river flowing past us (and only 8 feet deep) becomes the deep wide
river by the time its tributaries add to the flow.
John, with former Niven fishing lodge
many of the older locks on the river, Rushey Lock has an interesting history. The
grandfather of actor David Niven built a fishing lodge there, and it now serves
as the lock keeper’s residence. David Niven, himself, often stayed there, as
did a long list of his contemporaries, such as Elizabeth Taylor. It’s hard to
imagine today’s stars staying in a place so small.
Stella and Andrew
on the footpath, I met Andrew (from Connecticut) and Stella, his sister (from
England), who were completing another leg of the Thames Path. Patrick, a solo
walker approaching 80, was also completing another section.
Overgrown path (notice nettles)
Radcot Bridge, the trail passed through extensive marshlands, part of the river’s
flood plain. Due to last winter’s flooding, the trail was extensively
overgrown. Walking through the marsh grass was like post holing through powder on
snow shoes. Each footstep sank deeply into the grass requiring a gait more akin
to high-step marching than walking. The marching was easy, though, compared to
the bushwhacking required to pass through the stinging nettles where the trail
exited the marshland.
many of you know, I’m not without friends in high places, and when King Arthur
realized that I was in dire straits, he sent Mark to the rescue. As quickly as
you could say Camelot, Mark whizzed by me in his tractor and cleared the
footpath to a condition fitting for the passage of royalty. Hey, Mark, YOU DA MAN!!
King Arthur wasn’t finished yet. At Buscot Lock, he sent the Gloustershire
Search and Rescue Team to protect me just in case I were to fall into the lock.
As they finished their training, these strong, dedicated and brave men sought my
advice for attracting women. Of course, backpacks are best, but if you don’t
have a backpack a uniform will probably do. They all sported super uniforms,
and shouldn’t have any trouble attracting women once I leave the country.
for now, I’m busy attracting cattle, some of whom seem determined to block my
way. I pushed past him, however, and made my way to the B&B. It had soap in
the shower. I just know that if I buy that lottery ticket, I’ll never have to
work again – and every day will be a rest day like today!!