2011 Thames Path Walk

Day 1

Day One of the 2011 Thames Walk started somewhat grey and windy, but our intrepid walkers set off from Chimney Meadow in good spirits, armed with Chocolate bars/Water and emergency rain ponchos just in case!

Thanks to some fast pace setting from Colin W they made short work of the first half of the walk, arriving at the Ferryman Inn soon after midday for a well deserved lunch. The team were delighted to have sighted rarely seen Kingfishers as well as herons along the route.

Everyone was keen to get back on the trail so after a short break they set off again, with yet more chocolate bars to offset any potential post lunch hunger pangs!

The weather stayed kind, and the walkers dry, and all made it safely back (with only one minor directional glitch!) to the end at Swinford Toll bridge in a great time.

Day 4

In seven years of walking along the Thames footpath, today was the wettest day experienced. Starting in Dorchester on Thames and ending at Goring on Thames,   it rained from start to finish with torrential downpours in the afternoon. A good sandwich lunch at the George hotel in Wallingford made the day something like pleasurable.

Grateful thanks to Maggie Devine and the team from Peterborough with a very special mention of Dylan Lonergan and Hannah Dorkenoo Legatt both of whom had just   completed their 3 year apprenticeships with Mears, yesterday being their first day as a “trades person”. Well done to them, and to Leroy Ankrah who has a further year to finish.

Many thanks also to Andy Hartley and colleagues from the Harwell AWRE who regaled us with tales of their atomic fire risk training over lunch. A great day was had by all and all thankful of a quick finish and home.

Day 6

We had a very welcome visitor at the start in Tom Isaacs from the Cure Parkinson’s Charity, who joined us for the day. Always good to see our fellow charity partners.

A good turn out today with people representing Head Office, High Wycombe and the Home Improvement Agencies as well as Lucas Critchley from Dartford.   One of the more pleasing walks going through the lovely footpaths around Henley, with some beautiful boathouses, to the longest lock on the Thames at Henley.   Again made very welcome at the Argyll pub in Henley where we have taken refuge over a number of years.  Many thanks to the landlord Neil for his hospitality.

The afternoon slog to Hurley takes you through some quiet open fields and quite remote areas with a detour around a very grand stately home.   All back safe with me having to leave early for an afternoon appointment.  No time for my long soak in the bath unfortunately.

All raring to go for the final few legs of the walk.  Thanks again to Jane and Anteneh for organising the logistics.

Day 8

A great walk headed by the ladies from our Care operations in Lincoln, Peterborough, Leicester, Oxford and Nottingham, with thanks also to Ian Smith from Travis Perkins for his support..   A day where the ladies certainly put the men to shame, following a great lunch stop in Windsor

Best days’ weather of the walk so far.  Looking forward to the final leg back to London with a finish next week.

Day 11

Joined today in London by people from throughout the organisation. Daniel Flowers got the timing wrong again, this time he was an hour early.   Good weather greeted us at Kew Bridge, with the weather holding off until the afternoon.

We were kept amused throughout the day by Noel Sweeney and his dog. An excellent lunch at the Ship Inn, and onwards to the short final leg to Vauxhall   The rain macs were soon out as we were caught in three downpours. Teams from Crawley and Maidstone had the long journey home.   Again many thanks to all who turned out.

Day 12

Final day of the walk, and we were blessed with a bevy of women and fine weather.  Everybody arrived on time and we set off from Vauxhall in a slight breeze and bright sunshine.   The first part of the walk takes you past most of London’s finest views as you head out east towards the barrier. For those who know the geography we always stop for a ten minute   gathering (allowing the slower members to catch up) under Tower Bridge, then working our way along the bank of the Thames.

As we head out of the built up area we go past many aspects of the early history of London, notably the Mayflower pub where the Mayflower set sail for America many years ago.   We made a good pace and even Noel and his trusty dog kept up with us. Lunch again was provided at the Ship and Whale, Rotherhithe, where we were treated admirably and for the   first time ever on my walks a sign at the front of the pub welcoming Mears Group – a lovely touch.

Those who have followed my blogs over the years may remember my comment that the final leg of the walk after lunch can be troublesome as we leave the banks of the Thames   and walk our way behind the O2 arena and through some industrial wastelands. This year further complicated by a diversion taking us across the fast traffic of the Blackwall tunnel,   but onwards to the end.  Passing through Greenwich is always a pleasure, seeing the grandest of buildings one can imagine.

All made the journey on foot to the end of another successful walk.   Many many thanks to all those people who walked this year and many thanks to those people who took time out of their busy lives to both walk, support and organise the walk.   Final walk of the year was celebrated with me having two pints in the early evening and sadly having to be up at 4.00 a.m. for a flight to Belfast the following morning.  Keep safe.