Date of Walk: 12 January 2013
Approx Distance of Walk: 6 km (4 miles) there and back
Parking/Transport: Public Car Park in Laleham (Grid ref TO 051682)
Starting Point: Car Park above
Finishing Point: Staines
This has not been an ideal year for walking the Thames Path. On a number of occasions, our plans have been thwarted by the wet weather. Earlier in the year, we were unable to walk some stretches that we'd planned in the upstream areas due to flooding. A couple of weeks ago, we had hoped to do a walk from Teddington to Richmond, but decided to revise our plans after consulting the Environment Agency website and discovering that the route we'd planned was under a flood alert.
Instead we found a walk that we thought would be safe from flooding, and on relatively well-made paths rather than through muddy fields. The route was from Laleham to Staines.
Arriving at the car park we could see that the river was quite high, and that the ground had been recently under water. However, we set off upstram towards Staines and after a short while we were walking on a quiet road beside the river which was nice and dry.
It was a cold and dreary day. There weren't many people about, and no boats at all on the river - at least not any that were moving.
There are many riverside properties along this stretch, some older and some more modern. Flooding must always be a concern for the houses along the river....
... but this house should fare better than it's neighbours in a flood.
After a while the road became a path but the going was still good. We needed to walk briskly to keep warm!
We arrived at Penton Hook Lock. Penton Hook is where the river forms an impressive loop. In the early 19th century barges started to take a shortcut through the narrow neck of the loop which was frequently flooded. Eventually the lock was built at the site, forming an island.
We decided not to explore the island, as it was rather cold and lunch was calling!
The lock was quiet.
Quite an impressive lock-keeper's house.
At the far end of the lock, it became clear why there was no river traffic. The lock gates had been removed for maintenance, so the lock was not in operation.
We continued on our way, still on a good firm path, with the town of Staines looming in the distance.
Eventually Staines road bridge came into view.
We stopped in the town for some lunch, and had decided to try and take a bus back to Laleham. We just missed one bus, and so rather than wait an hour for the next one, decided to walk back after all.
A cup of hot coffee along the way was very welcome! Not the most flattering of pictures, I know, but I was well wrapped up against the cold wind!