Posts Tagged ‘Thames’

Old Father Thames – Buscot to Cricklade

Sunday, April 3rd, 2022

Old Father Thames – Buscot to Cricklade Nine years ago on Wednesday 3rd April 2013 I was walking the Thames Path with my wife and elder son, who had planned a three day walk along the upper reaches of the river as a birthday present for my wife. Her birthday is in the depths of winter but we thought the start of April might have better weather.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
St John the Baptist at Inglesham, saved by William Morris from the threat of Gothicist ‘restoration’

We’d walked the lower parts of the Thames path and further out towards the estuary in a number of day walks, travelling by public transport to suitable starting points and back home at the end of the day. This had got us as far as Duxford, a short walk from the end of a bus route to Hinton Waldrist, 9 miles southwest of Oxford, west of where public transport to places close to the river is sparse and journey times from home too long.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
The room next to ours at Buscot Manor; ours was plainer but very comfortable

So we had booked two nights accommodation to allow us to complete the walk, ending at the source which is close to Kemble station from where trains would take us home via Swindon and Reading.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
Meanders make the journey longer

On Tuesday we had set off early to take the train to Reading where we changed for Oxford and then found the bus to Hinton Waldrist. By the time we got within five miles of the village we three and the driver were the only passengers. It had been just below zero when we set out but had warmed up a little and the sun was shining as our walk began. You can read more about the days walk and see pictures at Thames Path: Shifford to Buscot. I’d finished the day in which we had walked around 15 or 16 miles totally exhausted, but a good soak in a hot bath had eased some of my aches and pains.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
Old Father Thames

Wednesday we were up early for breakfast, having slept well at Buscot Manor, though we hadn’t paid the extra for a room with a four-poster, though I did take a photograph of one. Breakfast, shared around a large table with the other guests, was enormous and it was hard to get up from the table and begin our walk.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
Ha’penny Bridge in Lechlade

Being gluttons for punishment as well as at the table we started the day by deliberately going in completely the wrong direction to make a tour of the village, now largely owned by the National Trust before rejoining the Thames Path.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
St Agatha in St Lawrence’s Church, Lechlade

At St John’s Lock we found Old Father Thames, made in 1854 for the Crystal Palace and later moved to Thames Head but relocated here as protection against vandalism. At Lechlade, this is the highest lock on the Thames, which is theoretically navigable as far as Cricklade, though few boats now go beyond the Halfpenny Bridge in Lechlade.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
The entrance to the Severn & Thames Canal

We spent some time in Lechlade, buying sandwiches for our lunch, then looking around the church before my companions mutinied and dashed into a tea-shop and I had to follow them. We wasted some time there before we walked out and carried on towards Inglesham. The area around here was perhaps the highlight of the whole walk, but our delay in Lechlade meant we couldn’t stop long enough to properly examine the mouth of the River Coln and entrance to the Thames and Severn Canal and the first bridge over the canal on our way. The canal was abandoned in 1927 though parts have now been restored.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
St John the Baptist, Inglesham

The real gem of the walk is the Church of St John the Baptist at Inglesham, a splendid medieval survival thanks to the efforts of William Morris, who along with his pre-Raphaelite friends founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) or ‘Anti-Scrape’ to oppose the gothicisation of buildings such as these. But past here the walk deteriorates, with a mile and a half beside a busy road and a further 2 mile road walk “offering no scenic attraction at all“.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
A rare glimpse of the Thames , our first since Inglesham

It might have been better if the Thames Path had taken a detour along the Thames and Severn Canal. As the Rambler’s Association noted in their 1977 Survey, the county councils “suggested a new footpath creation to follow the river from Lechlade to Cricklade but objections, primarily from farmers and anglers, led to the abandonment of this concept.” They comment that the Thames path here “is in places so dull or dangerous that it begs the question whether objections from landowning or angling interests should always be allowed to override the need for providing a simple public amenity.”

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade

It’s only in the final mile or three into Cricklade that the walk comes alive again, rejoining the river and giving a glimpse of what the Thames Path in this region should be. We made our way to the White Hart, the principal inn at Cricklade since the time of Elizabeth I, though our room was in a modern extension at its rear. There was still just a little time to explore the town, basically a single street, before settling down to a decent Indian meal a short distance from the hotel.

Old Father Thames - Buscot to Cricklade
Cricklade seen across a meadow from the path

You can read about the final day of the walk, where there were detours due to flooding and flurries of snow in a bitter wind before we reached the end, on my London Diary. Here are the links to all three days of our walk, which I’m glad we did then as I don’t think I could make it now.

Thames Path: Cricklade to the Source
Thames Path: Buscot to Cricklade
Thames Path: Shifford to Buscot


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Thames Path – Pangbourne – Cholsey

Sunday, January 2nd, 2022

Whitchurch from the bridge from Pangbourne

Thames Path – Pangbourne – Cholsey: At the start of 2010 we were still walking sections of the Thames Path. On New Years Day we had walked from Reading to Pangbourne, and on the following day caught the train back to Pangbourne to begin our day’s journey there.

The Thames from the Thames Path along a hillside west of Whitchurch

We were heading to Cholsey, around 8 miles away, an easy distance suitable for a short day with over an hour’s rail travel at each end. Cholsey is a small village and has a railway station a little over a mile from the Thames Path with trains back to Reading from where trains run – if rather slowly – back to Staines.

Gatehampton Bridge

Pangbourne is a much larger village, and its station is a short walk from where we joined the Thames Path, and there were a few shops where we could buy some crisps and sweets to supplement the sandwiches in our bags and even a public toilet, so a very useful place to start a walk.

Before our walk really started we spent a little time in Pangbourne, visiting the parish church and photographing the Pang before rejoining the Thames Path at Whitchurch Bridge. Crossing the bridge takes you to Whitchurch, perhaps a prettier village than Pangbourne. Here the path takes quite a long detour away from the river bank and up on a hillside, with some extensive views through trees of the river and country to the south, before going back down to the riverside.

The railway line crosses the path and the river at Gatehampton Bridge, built by Brunel for the GWR main line in 1838 but the path stays on the north bank, passing between the tree-covered slopes of the Goring Gap, where the river cut through to seperate the Chilterns from the Berkshire Downs. Winter sun on the leafless bare branches was magical.

The bridge linking Goring on the north bank with Streatley on the south seems a rather primitive and temporary wooden structure, but has been here since 1923 when it replace the earlier bridge from 1837. Before then there had been both a ferry and a ford, though this was probably more often passable on horseback than on foot. It takes two bridges to reach Streatley from where the Thames Path proceeds westward on the south bank.

Streatley from Goring lock

At Streatley, a village until 1938 owned by the Oxfordshire brewers Morrell we visited the church and then set out on a partly underwater path by the river. December 2009 had been one of the wettest months on record and we began to doubt the wisdom of We thought about turning back and abandoning the walk, taking a train from Goring, but after seeing a walker paddle through towards us decided to continue.

Fortunately it was only a few inches deep, but despite our boots I think we all got wet feet. The day was around freezing, but walking kept our feet warm, and many of the smaller puddles along the rest of our route were frozen over, as well as the mud, and it was much easier to walk than had it been warmer.

The Beetle and Wedge at Mouslford looked very closed

A little further on the tow path moves from the south to the north bank, not a great problem in the past for craft being towed who could pole over to the other side, but more so for walkers, who need to take a path away from the river and along a main road for a mile or so leaving the path were it went down towards the Moulsford railway bridge and continuing to a footpath beside the railway to Cholsey station.

More pictures from this walk at Pangbourne – Cholsey and more from the previous day’s walk at Reading – Pangbourne. You can read my original post at Thames Path.


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Boxing Day Pictures

Sunday, December 26th, 2021

Boxing Day Pictures I took in earlier years – mainly on our normal annual walks from Staines to Old Windsor. It’s a family tradition, a walk we’ve made most yearssince we moved here in 1974, though not always taking the same route. This year is one of the few years we won’t be making it.

2010

2011

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

There are more pictures from all of these walks – except that in 2020 – on My London Diary. Click on the picture for any of the other years to go to more about the walks and more pictures.


FlickrFacebookMy London DiaryHull PhotosLea ValleyParis

London’s Industrial HeritageLondon Photos

All photographs on this page are copyright © Peter Marshall. Contact me to buy prints or licence to reproduce.


Deaths in Eritrea & the UK and a Peace March 2017

Tuesday, September 21st, 2021

Most embassies are in the most expensive parts of London, with a large number around Belgrave Square and others in Mayfair. Eritrea’s is in Islington and I can only recall once having been to a protest outside it. There should be more, particularly by jounalists, as Eritrea, a one-party state ruled by presient Isais Afwerki since independence in 1993, has one of the worst human rights records and, according to Reporters Without Borders, has the worst press freedom in the world. In 2001 all independent media in the country were banned and politicians and ten leading journalists were arrested and thrown into isolation without charge, without trial and without contact with the outside world. Nobody knows their whereabouts and only four were thought to be still alive in 2017.

Those still alive are still in jail and have now been held for 20 years, along with other journalists imprisoned since then. Very little is known about most of them with no official information being released, other than government denials that some have been tortured, which are widely disbelieved. They are held in jails where torture is commonplace. In December 2020, 28 Jehohova’s witnesses, some of whom had been in jail for 26 years were released, raising hopes of the families of journalists, but there have been no further releases.

On Thursday 21st September 2017 there were 12 chairs set out at the protest across the street from the Eritrean Embassy, one four each of the journalists jailed in 2001, with photographs of them all. Protesters sat on four of the chairs, representing those thought still to be alive.

I went to another protest about deaths in prisons, this time in the UK. It was called at short notice after a Chinese man in Dungavel immigration detention centre. This followed the death earlier this month at Harmondsworth detention centre of a Polish man who took his own life after the Home Office refused to release him despite the courts having granted him bail. There have been thirty-one deaths in immigration removal centres since 1989.

Britain is the only EU country which holds refugees and asylum seekers to indefinite detention, and both official reports and media investigations have criticised the conditions at these immigration prisons. The protest outside the Home Office called for an end to immigration detention, which is inhumane and makes it difficult or impossible for asylum cases to be fairly assessed.

Stop Killing Londoners blocked traffic briefly in a carefully planned operation in Trafalgar Square, which involved the simultaneous stopping of traffic at all five entrances to the road system. As in previous events, it was a token block, holding up traffic for less time than it gets halted by congestion on some busy days, and around ten minutes after it began they moved off the road, returning a few minutes later for a short ‘disco protest’, dancing on the road on the east side of the square for a few minutes until police asked them to move.

The protest was to publicise the illegal levels of air pollution in the capital which result in 9,500 premature deaths and much suffering from respiratory disease. It was one of a series of similar protests in various areas of London.

I hurried down from Trafalgar Square to Westminster Bridge, going across it just in time to meet the World Peace Day Walk as several hundred campaigners walk arrived having walked beside the Thames from Borough Market carrying white flowers. The London Peace Walk was one of a number takeing place in Barcelona, Paris and other cities around the world on World Peace Day.

The marchers wore black and walked in silence to grieve for the recent loss of precious life due to violence in all forms, including terrorist, state, corporate, domestic. They stated that there can be no peace without justice, equality and dignity for all and that “We stand together against the forces of hate and division – for peace.” At the end of their march they went onto Westminster Bridge and threw flowers and petals into the Thames.

More at:
World Peace Day Walk
Trafalgar Square blocked over pollution
No More Deaths in immigration detention
Free forgotten jailed Eritrean Journalists


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.


Thames Path

Sunday, April 4th, 2021

One of the many things I ought really to do is to put together a book of my pictures of the Thames Path. Of course quite a few others have done so, but I think mine would provide a slightly different view.

I think I’ve walked every section of it over the years, parts of it many times, though there may possibly be a few yards I’ve missed actually in London where there are routes on both sides of the river. I’ve also gone rather further east on both banks, as the Thames Path stops rather prematurely at the Thamea Barrier while the paths continue.

I’ve never quite been to the mouth of the Thames, traditionally marked at various places including the the Nore sandbank, Yantlet Creek – where the City put up the London Stone, and though I cycled to Leigh-on-Sea in 2005 I think I missed the Crow Stone.

Most of the sections of path upstream from Windsor I’ve walked on various days with my family. As far as a little above Oxford it’s fairly easy to travel by public transport to the start of a day’s walk and back from the end, but above that there are few buses and no stations until you get close to the source. So the final (or initial) 60-70 km had eluded us.

In 2013, my elder son planned the expedition to complete the route, booking bed and breakfast for the three of us at Buscot and Cricklade so we had three days to walk. On the Tuesday following Easter, two trains (both running late) took us to Oxford, despite Easter Holiday engineering works still in operation and we took the bus to Hinton Waldrist. For the last five miles we were the only passengers and the bus had a problem in the village squeezing past a parked tractor.

We were still a couple of km away from the Thames Path, but the sun was out and despite being rather close to zero it was good walking weather. The map and guide book said there was still a ford across an old stream of the river at Duxford which would have saved us some walking, but there had been considerable rain in previous weeks and it was clearly impassable; even on the longer way round we occasionally needed to detour around flooded sections of path.

We just made it for a late lunch before the pub at Tadpole Bridge stopped serving, having seen only one other person on the first five miles or so of our walk. It was good to have a pint, though the food suffered from the restaurant’s aspirations, and service was fast. The river winds considerably around here and I think we walked at least twice as far as a crow might fly to get to Radcot and from there on to Kelmscott where we again paused. We were a day early for the first opening of the Manor there, perhaps as well as we didn’t have time to appreciate it, but we did visit William Morris’s grave and the local pub before continuing our slog to Buscot Manor, an interesting and welcoming place to spend the night.

The following morning after a very large breakfast with other guests we made a short tour of the village before continuing along the Thames Path towards Lechlade, where I was forced to waste time snared into a tea shop by my companions. Eventually we made it and walked on past the start of the Thames and Severn canal to the Church of St John the Baptist at Inglesham, a splendid medieval survival thanks to the efforts of William Morris, who along with his pre-Raphaelite friends founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) or ‘Anti-Scrape’ to oppose the gothicisation of buildings such as these.

Then came the worst section of the Thames Path, a mile or so on the verge of the busy A361 followed by another couple along a bridle path and country lanes out of sight of the river. Between Inglesham and Castle Eaton there is no real Thames Path – except for a couple of hundred yards beside the river in the 4 or 5 mile stretch. Though except for the A361 it is a decent country walk. The route does run beside the river from Castle Eaton to Cricklade where we made for the oldest and poshest pub, the White Hart where we were booked. And after finding our room found a good Indian restaurant not far away.

After a disappointing breakfast we took a short walk around Cricklade before continuing our journey. Flooding in the area meant the path had been diverted but it wasn’t a bad diversion and we were soon walking with the river through a land almost entirely covered by unfilled gravel pits, something there is no shortage of close to home. These cover the land east and west of the charming village of Ashton Keynes, west of which it’s hard to decide where the river actually flows. According to the Thames Path Guide, the Thames follows several coursed through Ashton Keynes, though some distance further up you do walk beside a decent small river.

Past the A 329 the river rather peters out, and by the time we reached Thames Head on the A 433 Fosse Way all that was left was damp grass. Across the road we struggled up a small hill to the official source, a dry spring that is marked by a stone placed here by the Thames Conservators. From here it was downhill to Kemble Station and a long wait for a train to Swindon, where we changed for Reading and then another train home.

More details and many more pictures on My London Diary.
Thames Path: Cricklade to the Source
Thames Path: Buscot to Cricklade
Thames Path: Shifford to Buscot

City and Thames

Friday, January 17th, 2020

The area by St Andrew-by-the-Wardrobe, an Anglican church a few hundred yards south of St Paul’s Cathedral fascinated me when I first walked by it in the 1970s, and of course I’ve tried to photograph it over the years with various success, though mainly failure.

This picture, taken from the steps up to a locked door into the church is one that I found impossible on colour film, with the gloomy alley – with a light on even in the middle of the day when I took this picture contrasting with the more brightly lit street with The Cockpit pub. But the day was overcast, reducing the contrast and the digital camera coped well, though needing some dodging and burning in Lightroom to give the results here.

I didn’t go into the church though I have been inside on at least one previous occasion, just following an Indian Orthodox service there, when the atmosphere was thick with incense. The site has an interesting history, with a church here for perhaps a thousand years or more, though the first written mention is in 1170 or . It became part of an ancient royal residence, Baynard’s Castle, and in 1361 Edward III or Edward IV moved his royal clothes and arms from the Tower of London to a more handy site in a building close by.

Like most of London it was destroyed in the Great Fire of 1666, and was rebuilt in 1695 to one of the simplest and last of Christopher Wren’s many church designs. Although it now looks ancient, it was mostly destroyed again by German bombing in 1940 and rebuilt and reconsecrated in 1961, with most of its internal decor being salvaged from previously demolished Wren churches. Among the memorials on its walls is a modern carved wood one for William Shakespeare, a parishoner for 15 years.

From the church I crossed Queen Victoria St and made my way down to the riverside walkway. There was an extremely low tide and I went down the steps onto the foreshore, which here is sand and shingle with many remains of wooden posts.

I walked the short distance along to Queenhithe, a historic monument as London’s first dock though the Roman and Saxon docks are now all buried beneath the mud and stones or hidden behind the visible more modern river walls and the area is surrounded by rather boring modern offices.

I went back and up onto the riverside walkway and then made my way to meet with friends for a short walk through the city, on which I took a few more photographs. One of the places we visited was where I had begun taking pictures, and this time we went inside The Cockpit on St Andrews Hill opposite the church, one of London’s smaller and more fascinating places.

Although the text for it’s grade II listing states tha the building is ca 1860, but the interior is in part older. The pub claims to have been established in 1787 and to have been rebuilt in 1842 and that it was once Shakespeare’s home – and certainly it is on the corner of Ireland Yard where he is known to have lived.

The interior is literally a ‘cockpit’ and the bar and seating is on the very floor where the pair of gamecocks, equipped with razor-sharp metal spurs would be set to fight to the death while gamblers looked on from the balcony above. Cock-fighting was banned in England and Wales by the  Cruelty to Animals Act 1835 and the last fight in this pub was said to have been in 1849. Apparently there are still some illegal fights in the UK.

More pictures at City & Thames.


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

Wapping & the Thames

Sunday, September 1st, 2019

I arrived early for a private celebration of May Day with friends in a Wapping pub and took a short walk along the High St and riverside path, where I sat and ate my lunch sandwiches.

I’d made photographs here in the 1980s, and there were one or two that I’d hoped I would be able to fix the locations more precisely. It wasn’t easy as vitually everything between Wapping High Street and the river has been rebuilt with expensive riverside flats. New Crane Wharf (above) was still recognisable as here the old buildings had been converted.

The Thames sweeps around to the south to go around the Isle of Dogs, and from Wapping you can see Canary Wharf to the North of the River and the gasholder in Rotherhithe to the south – and both appear in photographs to be across the river.

You also see rather too much very pedestrian riverside architecture like the flats above. So little new building on the river bank has any architectural merit, all about maximising profit within the planning restrictions. It’s such a shame that the LDDC didn’t have higher aspirations for its control of the redevelopment of docklands.

Relatively little of the old riverside survives here, and Tunnel Mills and the other buildings at Rotherhithe are one very welcome exception. There are parts of the north bank too where some of the better warehouses have been saved, converted into expensive flats.

It was good also to be able to walk out onto Tunnel Pier, where I met two old friends also taking advantage of the opportunity.

And though the Captain Kidd pub to the left of Phoenix Wharf is relatively modern, dating from the 1880s, like many Sam Smith’s pubs it is a sensitive conversion of an old building, Sun Wharf, which along with Swan Wharf (now renamed Phoenix Wharf) and St John’s F & G Wharf at left were owned or leased by W H J Alexander and Company, who as well as wharfingers dealing in a wide range of goods including coffee, dried fruit, gum and bales of Australian wool, also used these premises to repair their tugs. Swan Wharf I think is the oldest of these buildings, dating from the 1840s and possibly designed by Sidney Smirke.

More pictures at Wapping and the Thames .


All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.



Windsor & Eton

Monday, June 3rd, 2019

I suppose this isn’t everybody’s idea of a picture of Windsor Castle, but it does rather amuse me, and I was rather brought up with Noddy, who I now realise was at times terribly racist. Noddy was created by Enid Blyton when I was only four, and her last book about him was published in the year I went to university, though since then he has been kept more or less alive on TV and through what is still a best-selling franchise. Mr Golly, who serviced Noddy’s little car seems to have disappeared in the 1990s, and the Gollies who stole Noddy’s car and the song book strongly featuring the n-word are no longer mentioned. It was in the mid 1960s that the racist, classist and xenophobic nature of her books first came under attack. And Windsor Castle is a little less prominent than that Pisan tower.

Eton is of course at the very heart of our English class system, and was appropriated by the wealthy from the school founded by Guliemus De Wayneflete for the education of poor boys – as the plaque records.

Much of Eton revolves around the school, and perhaps the most obvious signs of that, other than the school buildings themselves are the tailors shops, though it’s hard to imagine anyone actually buying anything in them.

Eton is a ridiculously wealthy and privileged place, though the school does offer some scholarships to gifted poor children, and we were once encouraged by his primary headmaster to put our elder son forward for one. I don’t think he would have survived, either the preparatory school that scholarship boys start at to repair some of the ravages of the state system and certainly not the school itself.

As you walk back towards Windsor, sanity does start to return and there is at least one decent pub where we lunched before returning over the pedestrianised bridge to Windsor, itself a curious place under the shadow of royalty and the military, and also a town full of tourists.

The swans were massing where tourists feed them, across the Thames from the Eton College boat house. I walked to the bus stop to return to the real world.


There are no adverts on this site and it receives no sponsorship, and I like to keep it that way. But it does take a considerable amount of my time and thought, and if you enjoy reading it, please share on social media.
And small donations via Paypal – perhaps the cost of a beer – would be appreciated.

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated, are taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images