FROM SOURCE TO SEA
Travel writer Tom Chesshyre happened across a print of an old map of the Thames on a bric-a-brac stall, and that was his inspiration for walking the 215 miles of the Thames Path from the river’s source in Gloucestershire (he couldn’t find any water there) to the edge of the North Sea. Along the way he delves into the riverside history – bloody battles from the Wars of the Roses, the university at Cricklade which probably predated Oxford, the grim concrete pill-boxes to defend the country in the event of Nazi invasion – and makes pilgrimages to sites related to everyone from designer William Morris to writers George Orwell and Jerome K Jerome. But unlike many Thames books, he mixes history with the here-and-now: interesting (and occasionally quite odd) discussions with locals on the Middle East, migration and Brexit; a campaign against a hydroelectric scheme; nuclear fusion research at Culham laboratory; and children catching invasive American crayfish to sell to restaurants. Along the way he visits Salters boatyard, bumps into a Hindu wedding vow ceremony and a Kurdistani barbecue, and gives name- andshame descriptions of everywhere he stayed, ate or drank, from “the best tearoom in Britain” to a pub which served up “lukewarm pie with cold gravy and watery mash”. Its dry humour will entertain and inform you on your next cruise along the Royal River.