1:00 – Taplow. 2:15 – still in Taplow.
The Thames is a perfect companion in the height of summer, a cooling mirror between trees. I first met it on the meadows owned by the National Trust between Hythe End and Wraysbury; the Ankerwyke Meadows that accompany its ‘Magna Carta’ estate. These lands belonged to an old priory, bare remains of which stand in the corner of a field.
The route this morning was mainly beside the river, though there was some road-walking from Wraysbury and a path by the railway (that was far, far better than other railside footpaths I have waded through). Then at Datchet I took up with the Thames Path, and was with it all the way here.
I went astray in Eton (how many gentlemen can say that, eh Boris?) but was soon back on track. Eton really is as genteel as the sound it makes on the ear. It is not just the Battle of Waterloo that was won on the playing fields of Eton: an empire was won here and governed wisely and well, for the most part. (For the failures I blame lesser schools.) They could have fitted the literal Battle of Waterloo on its fields – the Eton College Estate is massive. No wonder Old Etonians have a unique outlook on the world.
From here are broad meadows beside the river and the Thames Path all the way to Taplow, opposite Maidenhead.
North of Maidenhead is the Cliveden Estate, also now owned by the National Trust and it was looking unlikely that the promised path beside the river here is open, but the helpful staff at the Oak & Saw in Taplow village have told me of a new bridge not on the map, over the Jubilee River. I can recommend the Oak & Saw judging by the Eton mess I am about to tuck into.Please donate to the Stroke Association: click here.