During the recent UK heatwave, my mate and I trekked along the Thames Path with Marlow in Berkshire as our start and end points. The usual advice to take three layers with us – t-shirt, jumper and jacket – was ditched as temperatures soared above thirty degrees.
After treapsing through the park in the centre of the town, we reached the start of the trail. We decided to amble along next to the river rather than go along at our usual speed due the barmy conditions. We had enough water, but even with the short distance we’d covered to that point, I could feel myself getting parched.
The river rolled gently along as boats, paddleboarders and the occasional swimmer passed us by. Groups of families and friends settled along the river bank with deckchairs, tents and picnic rugs. I didn’t realise that my home county of Berkshire had its own beach!
We passed a commanding Norman church that stood calm and timeless in front of the gentle water. It just seemed to add an even more serene quality to the day.
Soon, we took a pit-stop at a cafe. Even though we’d only walked about three miles, it felt like we’d done ten because of the heat. We guzzled back cold drinks in record time; however,I was necking liquid from my water bottle a few minutes after leaving the cafe – the rising temperatures were draining us of vital resources fast.
Further down, we crossed over a steep bridge, and found ourselves mesmerised by the views of the river either way. To one side, a leafy forest offered cool respite; on the other, chalky banks rose up to eventually reveal endless farm fields with the Chiltern Hills sat behind them.
We opted for the shady path in front of the trees, but they soon gave way to open fields, and we were baking in the sun once more. We found a leafy tree next to the water’s edge, and dipped our feet in the river. But even in the shade, we found ourselves frying. Reluctantly, we turned back.
We hit the five mile mark, and our water bottles had run dry. We knew the cafe we’d stopped at was only about a mile and a half away, yet our throats were demanding we dropped to our knees and drink from the river. Before we crossed over the bridge, though, we espied a footpath that led to the village of Hurley. After seeking direction, we were raiding the chilled drinks in a local convenience store.
Then we stopped off at the cafe for another drink.
After that, we went to the pub.
And we were as calm as this swan: