Date of Walk: 19 February 2012
Approx Distance of Walk: 9 km (5.5 miles) there and back
Parking/Transport: Runnymede National Trust Car Park
Starting Point: RunnymedeFinishing Point: Runnymede
Continuing on our Thames Path Walks, this next stretch, from Runnymede to Staines, follows directly on from our previous walk.
The starting point was the National Trust car park at Runnymede, by the attractive Lutyens lodges.
The path goes between the river and the road for a while...
... and on the right, up on top of Cooper's Hill, is the Air Forces Memorial. This memorial commemorates over 20,000 airmen lost during the second world war. From the memorial, where you can climb onto the roof, there are spectacular views across west London, and the home counties.
The path diverts away from the road and follows the river round a bend. We are very close to Heathrow Airport, and planes are taking off overhead constantly.
It's a pleasant walk in the sunshine, although the wind is cold. The houses on the opposite bank are very attractive, but there is not much activity on the river apart from a few hardy dragon-boat crews. Here they were practicing their starts.
We approach Bell Wier Lock, and this attractive building catches my eye - probably a pumping station.
Bell Wier Lock, like the previous Romney Lock, is much longer than locks further upstream.
Just beyond the lock, the busy M25 carries traffic on it's tedious orbit of London. Even Eddie Stobart drivers are out on a Sunday!
This posh hotel has a terrace and garden fronting onto the river at this point, but I hope they have good sound insulation from the motorway traffic.
Looking at the bridge, we see that the Thames is getting wider now as it flows downstream.
The town of Staines comes into view shortly. I've never really been to this town. Just the name has always rather put me off! It's almost as bad as Slough. I'm sure it's quite nice really.
Well, maybe not!
To be fair, it does have quite a nice waterfront, and we found a good spot in the sunshine and out of the wind to eat our sandwiches, sitting on some steps.
Whilst we were there, on the left-hand bank in the picture below, a smartly dressed couple boarded a long-boat moored on the bank, started it up, and crossed the river to the hotel on the opposite bank, moored up again and went into the hotel, presumably for their lunch. It seemed like a lot of effort and manoeuvring just to cross the river, when...
... there was a bridge they could have walked across not 50 yards away!
On the way back we spotted this. According to the guide book, it is a 'coalpost'. In the past these could be found around entries to London to warn Merchants that they were now due to pay a levy on coal.
Our walk back was cooler against the wind, and we took the route which crossed the fields at Runnymede back to our car.