With the UK on flood alert and hurricane force winds forecast for west Wales and parts of Northern England today, now is perhaps not the best time for a family walk and particularly not if you enjoy a riverside stroll or woodland wander. We are lucky here – despite living close to a very flooded Thames, we are staying dry. It is hard however not to be aware of the sheer devastation that is wreaking havoc the many homes, farms, transport systems and businesses across a submerged southern England and watery West Country.
We are fortunate to face slightly less serious flooding problems – instead of taking toddler-speed waddles around the local lanes in the hope of encouraging our new baby to make a timely appearance as I was planning, I find myself firmly indoors tackling a backlog of walks, reviews and posts to add to the website from recent months whilst sitting very still indeed and willing this baby to stay put for at least another few days! Unless of course, baby comes complete with its own canoe – an only semi-jokingly necessary requirement to get to the hospital right now!
First up on my list of walks to add to Baby Routes was a lovely stroll along the Thames in the Oxfordshire village of Shiplake, near Henley-on-Thames (or, as it has aptly been renamed, Henley-in-Thames). A short, toddler friendly circular route that takes in the pretty Thames riverside, Shiplake Lock and the water-meadows, it’s a super walk for a lazy Sunday stroll, especially as Shiplake ‘s Baskerville pub does a cracking Sunday lunch! That is when there is a footpath to walk on of course…
Unfortunately, the Shiplake circular along the Thames path is now being moved to the back of my list as it is currently submerged under several feet of water and more of an inadvisable swim than a walk! When I drove through Shiplake today, the water was nearly over the gates and fence-posts along the walk, Shiplake Lock completely inaccessible and the cars of local Shiplake residents moved safely uphill away from the flooding which is threatening once again to cut off the road.
The same goes for pretty much all of the Thames Path walks listed on Baby Routes. Sonning Bridge has been closed for weeks due to flooding and the Thames has burst its banks in both Reading and Henley meaning the lovely Henley Regatta walk and the Shiplake to Henley pushchair walk, Shiplake to Sonning and Sonning to Caversham pushchair walks are not only impassable but the Thames Path is in fact actually now several meters riverside of the new flooded waterline requiring a boat, lifejackets and an extreme sense of recklessness to navigate, not a pushchair!
So instead of adding the latest Shiplake walk, for now instead here are some photographic reasons to stay well clear of the Thames Path at the moment and to take great care, wherever you are, in this wild and stormy weather.
I’m off for a spot of armchair hiking and research now – look out for a post soon with some inside inspiration to whet your walking appetite for the (weather permitting) weeks to come whilst we wait for this weather to pass. If you have been affected by the flooding or high winds, then do stay safe and I send all my hopes and wishes for quickly receding waterlines and minimal damage to your homes and properties.