Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Thames Path - Caversham to Sonning

Date of Walk:  9 July 2012
Approx Distance of Walk: 5 km (3 miles)
 Parking/Transport: 2 cars: one at Caversham Bridge, public car park next to Crown Plaza Hotel; one in Sonning, outside French Horn (limited space)
Starting Point: Caversham Bridge
Finishing Point: Sonning Village

Our latest walk on the Thames Path (and I might add that I have a number of walks from recent months that I've not got around to posting!) took us from Caversham Bridge in Reading to Sonning. Caversham Bridge was the start of a previous walk, on which we went upstream. This time we went downstream, from the busy town of Reading to the pretty village of Sonning, about 5 miles downstream.

It was a rather grey day, and the colour of the river reflects the high amount of rainfall that we'd had in previous weeks.

This rather gruesome and unusual sight greeted us at the start of the walk.

Leaving Caversham Bridge behind, we walk downstream towards the more attractive (in my opinion) Reading Bridge.

It's a pleasant enough walk on a tarmac path, past residential flats and houses. By this time we were feeling in need of the coffee that we had brought along, and hoped to find a seat at Caversham Lock.

However we were  disappointed to find no seat. The lock seemed rather dreary, or maybe it was just the dull weather that made it seem so.

A man in an invalid chair engaged me in conversation as I was taking pictures. He wanted to direct me through to the other side to get a good view of the weir, but I assured him I just wanted to photograph the lock. The rest of the party had gone on ahead, at his suggestion, to find a seat in the nearby King's Meadow, but I was left behind to be regaled with his opinions on having a Thai wife. I didn't delve into the subject and got away as soon as I politely could.

I wasn't sorry to leave the lock - of all the locks we've visited so far, this must be the most dismal and uninviting.

However we found a nice seat to have our coffee in King's Meadow, a little further on.

As we continued on our way, it started to rain. Contrary to the forecast - as usual! As we left King's Meadow, we crossed over the River Kennet which enters the Thames underneath a railway bridge. Our path took us over the Horseshoe Bridge, which used to be a slatted horse bridge but has now been resurfaced. I later discovered that there is a lock just up the Kennet (Blake's Lock) which is also managed by the Environment Agency, and thus considered to be one of the Thames Locks, but we didn't go there, so I don't have a picture of it for my collection.

 We walked on, the path now across some grassland, with several large office developments nearby. There were many runners and cyclists out for their lunchtime spin.

We approached the wetlands nature reserve - and it certainly lived up to it's name!
We seemed to follow the boundary fence of the Blue Coat School for a long way before finally coming to Sonning Lock.

This was a much more inviting lock than Caversham, and we even managed to find a dry seat under a tree on which to eat our lunch!

One more lock sign for the collection.

There was a tea-room at the lock as well, but as we'd brought our own picnic, we didn't use it. They even had some pretty decent loos!

A pretty lock-keeper's cottage...

... and colourful flowerbeds...

... made us feel very welcome.

A little further on, Sonning Bridge appeared.

The view from the bridge is very pretty.

From here the Thames Path continues across this footbridge, but for us, the walk was finished for today, as we had left our car...

... outside this fine-looking Restaurant. (Not in their car park, but in a free parking area nearby.)

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