Date of Walk: 26 August 2012
Approx Distance of Walk: 10 km (6 miles) there and back
Parking/Transport: Shiplake Railway Station Car Park
Starting Point: Car Park above
Finishing Point: Sonning
Last week we had another walk to Sonning - this time from the opposite direction from the last walk - upstream from Shiplake. Parking at Shiplake railway station, we walked through some quiet residential streets until the path diverted off through some fields.
I would love to have been here a few weeks ago, when this field of poppies would have been in full bloom!
The approach to Shiplake Lock is attractive, with a campsite on the opposite bank.
The lock was busier, and more colourful, than the last time we were here. (Sorry, I haven't yet written up that walk - along with one or two others!)
Leaving the lock behind, we set out on the northern bank towards Sonning.
Several small aircraft were flying overhead - there must have been an air display somewhere nearby.
After the wet summer, everywhere was green and lush, although fortunately it was dry underfoot.
The towpath goes through some shady woods and over this rather crude, but sturdy bridge.
We walked past Shiplake College, an independent boarding school set in a beautiful 45 acre site, with extensive boating facilities by the river.
The path follows the river and it's backwaters closely all the way to Sonning. It is a quiet, rural area, with plenty of wildfowl. Quite a large group of young swans were gathered by the riverbank.
Masses of these tall pink flowers lined the path at one point.
They were quite striking...
... with delicate pink flowers.
I have learned, from consulting my wildflower book on my return home, that it is called Himalayan Balsam, or impatiens glandulifera, also known as Indian Balsam, Policeman's Helmet, Jumping Jacks, Nuns, Bee-Bums, or Poor man's Orchid. Take your pick.
The unmistakeable red-brick arches of Sonning Bridge finally came into view.
Tranquil glimpses of pretty gardens in the village.
Group picture on the footbridge over the river, before heading back the way we came.
Rural scenes of late summer come into view on the way back.
Teasels are beautifully architectural plants and great for wildlife.
A bee is getting a good meal from the teasel, and our thoughts turn to visions of a good meal in a country pub...
On the walk back, flocks of Canada Geese gather noisily on the river by Shiplake College.
After this walk, we have completed all the Thames Path between Staines and Pangbourne, and some other sections as well. We haven't made an exact calculation, but we think we've probably covered about half of the 184 miles so far. We're still managing to do a new section every month.