Two Men in a Canoe – Day 3

We awoke to bright sunshine in our secluded pitch at Longridge and enjoyed a cup of tea before packing up the tent and kit ready for our final day in the canoe. Our slightly leisurely place meant that the sky had clouded over by the time we paddled away but the river was quiet and peaceful on this Monday morning as we passed the riverside houses set into the steep wooded hillsides to the east of Marlow.

Breaking clear of the ribbon of steep hills we headed out into the wide expanse of flat land that is Cock Marsh, the Thames meandering in a huge U shape around the exposed land. Bronze age round barrows stand as beacons on wide expanse of undeveloped land, the increasing breeze and grey skies adding to the bleakness of the landscape. We pulled hard on the paddles as we headed dead to wind working warmth into journey weary muscles, our much improved technique sliding the canoe through the water with clean strokes and balance.

Bourne End came into view and we passed The Bounty Pub, a quirky riverside destination that has resisted the fashion for corporate makeover. We didn’t take the opportunity to drop in and instead headed on round the bend in the river. The sun was breaking through now, though the breeze remained and as we took a comfort break we watched a true three man rowing boat heading upstream.

Pulling on the oars the two oarsmen were hard at work whilst the third reclined with a cigar in hand commentating on the view ahead. The craft itself looked at home on the water and a warm relic of a byegone age with its roof hoops still in-situ in its gunwales however we decided we had the best of it in our two man canoe – one lazing around while two worked at the oars without a view of where they were going is bound to cause friction on the journey!

Under the railway bridge at Bourne End and then on to Cookham, with time to stop for a coffee at The Ferry Inn. After the break it was in to our penultimate lock and then on into the steep valleys that surround Cliveden. This was dramatic landscape to be rowing through – the work was hard again as pulled against the stiff breeze funnelling down the valley. Civilisation was more apparent. We were closer now to the Heathrow take off path and visitors were scrambling around Cliveden’s open gardens.

As we escaped the shadowy chill of Cliveden Deep the sun broke through to shine on the last leg of our trip. First the pretty Boulder’s Lock and the riverside house on an island once the home of Richard Dimbleby and then the final league down to Maidenhead and journey’s end.

Whilst no great physical undertaking, Nick and I had completed a journey of some substance and escaped our normal worlds for a brief time to reminisce, debate and enjoy each others company.

Roll on our next adventure.

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