At the end of July 2020 and into August, I journeyed down the whole of the river Thames from the official source to Teddington lock in London. See main article: https://shoeman.eu/the-thames-during-covid-19/
This trip, a distance of some 158 miles, was something I’d wanted to do for a very long time, ever since reading Jerome K Jerome’s book ‘Three Men in a Boat’ as a schoolboy.
But it was also a way of overcoming my feelings of loss after the recent decease of my father, who’d been a sportsman for most of his 99 years. Since I planned to make the journey by kayak, it was likely to be fairly gruelling even on a relatively relaxed schedule. This trip was for me a way of proving that I could deliver on the physical as well as the mental; in this way it would be my tribute to his memory.
On the physical side, the trip was certainly a test. Although we (two of us started out) had set a deliberately relaxed schedule of no more than 10-12 miles a day, various problems and delays ate into the time, making a more forced pace necessary. One day I was on the water from 6 am until just before sunset at around 9 pm, paddling for some 15 hours.
Fortunately the weather during this period was benign. There is something truly wonderful about slipping slowly downriver at an early hour, when the only other life about is wild, a reminder that it can be glorious to celebrate summertime in such a way. And there were certainly many people enjoying the Thames during this week, more than I’ve ever seen on the river at any time. So we were in good company.
© Philip Hunt, 2020.