Cozy pubs, pastoral views, and historic sites make hiking the English countryside unique. My first English outdoor adventure took place two years ago climbing in the Lake District. Following in Wordsworth’s footsteps, my friend and I climbed the highest peak in England, surprised some sheep, camped next to an inn, and enjoyed a pint or two. In November, I explored the Thames Valley & Oxfordshire countryside near London and Reading while on a work trip. By staying just a few miles away from Reading and its technology park, I could enjoyed an English outdoor adventure.
Reading is a bustling city along the Thames. The express train is only two stops from London’s Paddington Station. I stayed in Sonning, just two miles downstream of Reading. Sonning’s historic bridge, lock, & village feel worlds apart. Sonning has two historic inns. I stayed at the French Horn on the Banks of the Thames, and its background felt torn from The Wind in the Willows. The Bull Inn & Pub is in town and adjacent to an ancient church & graveyard. The Bull was an excellent place to relax at the end of the day.
A segment of the 184 mile Thames Path connects the French Horn in Sonning with the TVP Technology Park in Reading. The well marked path starts in the Cotswalds and follows the Thames through Oxford, Sonning, & London to the English Channel. The Thames Path is one of 15 National Trails in England & Wales.
The Thames Path supported both my commute and my trailruns. Hikes and runs in the Thames River Valley are idyllic. Henley on the Thames, home of George Orwell, formed an excellent downstream destination. The area’s rolling hills, woods, and fields felt like the Shire in Middle Earth. While I did not find I any hobbits on my runs, I surprised almost a half a dozen pheasants. CS Lewis & JRR Tolkien walked the same path many times upstream at Oxford.
Trails, open space, farms, pubs, & history blend together in an English countryside adventure. I can’t wait to return & explore more National Trails & pubs.