Thames Pathway

Journal of a Walk Down the River Thames

by Keith Pauling


It is an old cliché but still nonetheless true that a journey is a metaphor for life.

I lean on the railings and watch the waters flow past the cowls of the flood barrier and gain the freedom of the sea. The river has come to its end of its existence and enters its own vast eternity of the oceans.

It is difficult to drag myself away. The river holds me like a magnetic force as though Father Thames knows that our grip on each other is fading and as soon as I turn away that it will be gone forever.

The memories of the last two weeks course through my head.

Today the sun is shining and the warmth of summer is almost here. To get here I have had to cope with the English weather in all its moods. I started off in sunshine, then it was rain, wind, more rain, glorious sunshine, yet more rain and finally the sun has come out again to give a welcome glow to the finale.

I have seen the Thames grow from a helpless little puddle through its infancy to become the dominating force of its surroundings. I have wondered at the beauty of the rapidly changing and maturing character of the middle reaches. The iconic image of Tower Bridge fixes itself like an oil painting, forever preserving the river at its peak I have despaired at the desolation and neglect the great waterway has fallen into during its last few miles. I suspect that the river itself often looks back to its middle stages and wonders where the glory days have all gone.

Not at all like life then.