The discipline of have a long distance path to complete took me out again on Sunday to complete the Reading to Aldermaston section of the Kennet & Avon. That is the last of my back switches, and from next weekend its forwards from Bedwyn to the Bristol Channel. It was also the longest section today and by under used muscles were feeling the stress when I levered myself out of the car with the take away curry at the end of the walk!
The day started out with thunderstorms, but became a bright but breezy day perfect for walking so I made the 1408 train from Aldermaston and found my way to the starting point of the Kennet & Avon by way of long looping walk that took in some of the Thames. The Thames has all together a better class of lock, fully motorized in comparison with the K&A which requires physical strength and technique to manually operate the lock gates and sluices. It also has more extravagant eccentrics (see below for one moored barge).
The first section through Reading is industrial, but the wildlife has accommodated (see above) and the legacy of former great companies (again see below) is evident along the route along with fleeting glimpses of Reading Goal, famous for one of its occupants Oscar Wilde. The one advantage of passing through a shopping centre was a Starbucks for much needed refreshment, but overall this was not one of the most endearing of sections and one section of concrete underpasses with a high homeless population positively threatening. As the noise of Reading faded, the noise of the M4 upwind started to intrude and drowned out all other sounds for two/three miles. Finally passing that the noise faded and evening bird song and the smell of wild garlic replaced the sound and smells of modern civilisation. Stepping on as the sun set I passed the earth locks that are unique to the Kennet & Avon; they have to be left empty to prevent damage to their banks and finally with evening silence descending made it to Aldermaston, the car and a slow drive home.
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