In the summer of 2016, a month after referendum in favour of Brexit, Tom Chesshyre took to the footpaths of England’s longest river. Beginning in Gloucestershire, where the source of the Thames is little more than a damp spot in a field, Chesshyre sets off along the 215-mile route aiming both to enjoy the scenery and appreciate the “golden thread of history” (Winston Churchill) that covers the story of England from pre-Roman days, through the signing of the Magna Carta, the dissolution of the monasteries, the Civil War, industrialisation, the rapid growth of urbanisation and current concerns: the likely consequences of leaving Europe being very much on people’s minds. It is a tale of a ramble along a river that has seen much while the water runs softly by minding its own business. Encounters aplenty along the way bring colour to the walk, from fellow hikers to the chief helmsman of the river’s RNLI, down-and-outs, publicans, fishermen, boat builders, policemen and many others.
Tom Chesshyre is the author of ten travel books and worked on The Times travel desk for 21 years. He is freelance now, contributing to newspapers and magazine. He lives in Mortlake in London by the banks of the Thames.