Kemble line upgrade

The Princess Royal has officially opened the newly redoubled railway line from Kemble to Swindon.

This is an important transport link for those who will arrive at the station having completed the walk from London. The station is very handy for the Thames Source but in recent years many have had a long wait in the lovely station.

On Friday Her Royal Highness arrived at Kemble on a train at the early hour of 9am. There was plenty of Network Rail and First Great Western staff on the platform to greet the Princess and her husband Sir Tim Laurence.

“Now that work on the line is complete, passengers can look forward to fewer delays and reduced journey times in the future,” said Network Rail’s Western Route managing director Patrick Hallgate.

First Great Western’s managing director Mark Hopwood said: “This improvement work to the network infrastructure paves the way for faster, more reliable services.”

The project cost £45m.

Grand Designs: Marlow’s floating house

The latest Grand Designs on Channel 4 sees Kevin McCloud visit Marlow where a couple are struggling to build the first floating house by the River Thames.

The location is the lock island reached only by a footbridge .

The site faces south so the new building, replacing a single storey house, is not seen from the Thames Path which here is on the left bank and turning inland to avoid the lock ahead.

Marlow experienced severe flooding this year. Next time the house should rise with the water level.

The prototype being considered downstream at flood-hit Bourne End.



Ray Mears explores Thames Path on ITV

Wilderness Walks with Ray Mears on ITV tonight sees Ray Mears exploring the River Thames.

Using a canoe, he visits Chimney Meadows and Hartslock Woods on his way downstream.


Wilderness Walks with Ray Mears: ITV Tuesday 14 October at 7.30pm.


Magna Carta Island sold to Chinese

Richard Morrison writing in The Times today says that Magna Carta Island has this week been sold to a Chinese family .

The price is believed to be £3.95m.

The Thames island lies alongside Runnymede which has the Magna Carta monument. However, it is thought that the charter was probably sealed on the island with refreshments for the King and barons being provided by the convent on the Wraysbury bank.

The Queen has visited Magna Carta Island which has a house complete with a charter room.

Plans are being made to mark Magna Carta’s 800th anniversary on the banks of the River Thames next year.

George Clooney in Sonning

It appears that George Clooney and new wife Amal Alamuddin may have purchased Aberlash House on a Thames island at Sonning near Reading.

The 17th-century Aberlash House is usually known as Mill House because it was the home of the mill owner. Just before the First World War it was bought by Godfrey Phillimore, son of the international jurist Lord Phillimore. Later the family briefly worked the downstream mill at Shiplake.

Sonning Mill supplied flour for Huntley & Palmers at Reading.

The Bull Inn, where George Clooney was seen last Saturday, was originally a pilgrim lodging for those visiting the church which had the relics of St Sarik.

The Mill House is glimpsed, and let’s hope it will continue to be, from the towpath between the bridge and the lock.

Meantime hops harvested next to Thames Path

Hops growing in front of the O2.

Hops growing in front of the O2.


Hops are next to the drawdock.

Hops are next to the drawdock.

Hops are growing next to the Thames Path on the Greenwich Peninsula.

They have been planted by Greenwich’s Meantime Brewery which claims it to be “the first permanent hop farm in London in over 100 years”.

The harvesting, or hopping, gathered 9lbs of hop buds for the yet to be named brew being produced at Meantime’s Old Brewery in Greenwich.

The hops, growing just yards west of the Greenwich Meridian line, can be seen immediately downstream of the drawdock next to the O2.

Meantime claims that it is a permanent feature.


Kingston’s Coronation Stone

Kingston’s Coronation Stone stands slightly ignored outside the Guildhall.

In The Daily Telegraph Philip Johnson compares it to the Stone of Scone which fits under the Coronation Chair at Westminster Abbey but is kept in Scotland.

He suggests that, should the Scots vote yes, the Kingston stone should get a higher profile.

What he does not mention is that this Saxon stone is soon to be moved back to its original site within the area now occupied by Kingston parish church.

Bishop of Oxford inaugurates a Thames Pilgrim Way

Thursday 18 September has long been in the calendar as Scotland’s Referendum Day.

But is also the start the much-planned 104 mile Thames Pilgrim Way walk being undertaken by the soon to retire Bishop of Oxford.

Over ten days there will be a lot of people walking downstream with the Bishop through the Oxford Diocese.

Bishop John Pritchard starts out from remote Radcot Bridge on Thursday morning. Here the water is flowing into the Oxford Diocese from the Gloucester Diocese.

Radcot has the river’s oldest bridge. It dates from 1393 and is the work of monks from Normandy.

The intention is that the Thames Path within the diocese should be followed in the future by others aware of the historic parishes they pass through.

The first church seen is tiny Shifford Church on a spot where King Alfred is said to have held a very early version of an English parliament.

On pilgrimage’s the last day, Sunday 28 September, the party will reach Wraysbury parish which has deep associations with Magna Carta agreed on the Runnymede riverside in 1215.

The Rt Revd Paul Williams, Area Bishop of Kensington, will greet the walkers at the London boundary.

Thames Crossings on BBC Radio 4

Piers Plowright’s delightful Thames Crossings series can be heard this week daily at 1.45pm on BBC Radio 4.

Today he explores Port Meadow.


Richmond towpath in early September

Here are some pictures of the Richmond area towpath this month.

View of the towpath from Kew Palace

View of the towpath from Kew Palace

The Thames from Kew Gardens

The Thames from Kew Gardens

Richmond Bridge

Richmond Bridge

London's tallest plane tree by the towpath at Richmond

London’s tallest plane tree by the towpath at Richmond

Parallel path for use at high tide just behind the flood wall at Petersham Meadows

Parallel path for use at high tide just behind the flood wall at Petersham Meadows

Marble Hill House seen from the towpath

Marble Hill House seen from the towpath

Hammerton's Ferry carries visitors to Orleans House and Marble Hill House across the river

Hammerton’s Ferry carries visitors to Orleans House and Marble Hill House across the river

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