Windsor to Staines - July 20th 2021
As previously mentioned, I’d chosen this week to walk the Thames because it coincided with the annual ceremony of Swan Upping which I was really keen to witness. In 2021 it would be starting from Windsor today with the boats setting off at 08:30. My plan was to see the boats off this morning and then follow their progress tomorrow. For the rest of today I would walk the section of the Thames Path between Windsor and Staines.
I arrived in Windsor at about 07:45, having spent the previous night in the Maidenhead Premier Inn. I parked the car at Windsor and Eton Riverside station and made my way to Windsor Town Bridge. Preparations for the off were well underway and I noticed that Good Morning Britain’s Laura Tobin was there with a small film crew. After taking loads of photos and seeing the boats depart at 08:30, I was free to concentrate on today’s walk to Staines. See my separate page on Swan Upping.
Today was going to be the warmest day of the year so far but as I’d walked 11+ miles the day before without any ill effects, whilst acknowledging I must be bonkers, I was confident today’s 8 mile walk would be easy enough.
Apart from a minor detour at Victoria Bridge due to some construction works going on, everything was going swimmingly well until I reached the point in Datchet where the Thames Path takes to the streets briefly. Even though I’d done this walk before, I made a big mistake and instead of taking a right turn, I thought I knew better and continued straight ahead onto Datchet Golf Course. Compounding my error, I then turned left and ended up walking the full length of the golf course. I was fine with this because I could see the river to the left of me much of the time. It was only when I emerged from the golf course at a railway bridge I didn’t recognise that the full horror of what I’d done struck home!
In walking down the golf course, I’d initially been heading back to Eton but towards the end, I’d actually been following the Jubilee River which flows into the Thames just before Datchet. Doh – what an idiot!! 2 miles later and having seen more of Datchet that I should have done, I was back on track – and all this on the hottest day of the year.
I reached Runnymede at about midday and the temptation to have a pint and a meal proved too much. I therefore stopped at the Harvester overlooking the river for a welcome break. After lunch I made a planned detour to visit the JFK and Magna Carta memorials which were proving very popular with school parties today. A little further on and at the Runnymede Pleasure Ground the temptation of an ice cream proved too much. So, after another break I made the final push to Staines, or Staines-Upon-Thames as it’s called these days, arriving about 14:30 – hot and sweaty! The railway station in Staines is another ¾ mile walk from where the Thames Path leaves the river, so all in all, my 8 mile walk was almost 11 miles in the end.
Back in Windsor I got back in my car, turned the air conditioning fan to maximum and drove to Marlow, where I was hoping to see the Swan Uppers arriving at the end of their first day.