A view across the river from the Thames Path

Steve the Trail Officer's Winter blog

20th November 2019

Welcome to the Thames Path National Trail (rather wet) Winter blog.
It’s now been over four weeks that we first advised our users that some parts of our National Trail will be flooded, unfortunately they still are. When we put this info out on the website and social media, I’m inundated with emails from users who want to know where they can walk, when will the floods abate and why don’t we have an alternative diversion when flooding. I direct people to this website https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/warnings.For all our volunteer monitors and walkers, as always, please do not walk through flood water. To find an alternative diversion when flooding occurs would mean creating a whole new National Trail, I guess we could call it the Thames Valley National Trail! I look here to try to predict when floods will go down, i.e. when will it stop raining! https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/weather/long-range-forecast

But I’m afraid that the Met office long range forecasting is not the most accurate, there are too many variables in the algorithms, but what do you expect from this rock in the middle of the north Atlantic!  Those cold dry winter patches where we could do yet further delivery to improve and repair the Trail unfortunately just don’t seem to happen any more and so we’re forced to cram in as much as possible when we do get the summer dry spells. Unfortunately, that can mean working when the Trail is at its busiest with users and events taking place. We try to manage this as best we can, often utilising banksmen to keep the Trail open, but occasionally we do apply for formal closures, close the path and put a suitable diversion in place. It’s interesting to note that along a lot of the very rural Thames Path from Oxfordshire heading upstream the Trail is quite unique in that there aren’t that many other Public Rights of Way anywhere near the Thames Path, I guess it’s because we sit on the flood plain!
So, if there still is any climate change deniers out there, I’d urge them to come and walk the Thames Path National Trail… that or take a trip to Venice… or do both!

As with all National Trails grant funding comes to us via Natural England. In order for us to receive the grant funding we have to satisfy a number of Key Performance Indicators, probably the most important of all the KPIs is – Trail in improving condition, not as straight forward as it seems, but we did manage to get a huge amount of works sorted out before the weather turned against us below are some example photos. Inglesham Fencing and surfacing - the idea here is to keep the cattle off the surfaced area, Radcot fence move back away from erosion and surfacing. here are some photos taken before and after works along the Thames Path.

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Inglesham Fencing and surfacing
Radcot fence move back away from erosion and surfacing