- Getting There
OS Explorer Start Grid Reference: 900813
Maidenhead is easy to reach by road or rail.
- Route Finding
The path runs into Windsor and over the bridge, before dropping down to the river again, being well fenced off for the most part with clear signage. Towards the end, the path turns away from the Thames and follows the A308 for a while before rejoining the riverside.
Maidenhead has full facilities. The town of Windsor has a good range of food and accommodation. Datchet has a station which leads to Reading via Windsor; or you can continue on to Egham station. Toilets can be found at Boveney Lock, Windsor and Romney Lock.
- The Route
From Dorney Reach the Thames runs past the lake used for the rowing and canoeing events of the 2012 Olympic Games, and from there passes the tiny church of St Mary’s Church, Boveney, now cared for by the Friends of Friendless Churches.
The ancient village of Clewer comes into sight after a series of bends in the river. Clewer was built to guard a fording place and St Andrew’s Church would have been attended by William the Conqueror during the building of Windsor Castle.
Leaving Clewer the river opens up to a spectacular view of Windsor Castle before the path leads up through Eton and Windsor before dropping down through a builders yard and, at Victoria Bridge, crossing to the other river bank, which again offers splendid views of the castle.
Continue along the path until you reach Runnymede Meadows, owned by the National Trust. About 500m along from the entrance to the meadows, a diversion crosses the road to the right and leads up to the Magna Carta Memorial.
Surely the birthplace of democracy makes an appropriate place to finish a spiritual and physical journey across the entire Diocese of Oxford, through fields and cities, past churches large and small, giving a wonderful picture of the diversity of this area.
Day 10: ‘YOUR KINGDOM COME’
‘The LORD your God has blessed you in all the work of your hands. He has watched over your journey.’ (Deuteronomy 2:7)
‘Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”’ (Luke 23:42)
This is the last section of the journey along the Thames Pilgrim Way, just before the River Thames disappears into another Diocese as it flows inexorably on, and it is fitting, both as a finale and in view of the landscape that we are passing through, that our thoughts should turn towards the grand and the majestic.
The Thames Pilgrim Way leads us alongside a river grown wide and powerful, crossed by magnificent bridges displaying all the technical achievements of their age, monuments to ambition, industry and the desire for success. Leaving the riverside, we walk between Eton and Windsor, catching glimpses of a world of privilege and wealth, before being diverted away from Windsor Great Park and its royal residents. Just before Datchet, a wonderful view is afforded to us of Windsor Castle, standing proudly on a hill, magnificent in its isolation and command.
And what about us, on this the last day of the pilgrimage? What decisions have we made, what insights have been gained? Has anything changed in us?
From the very beginning, Jesus’s followers struggled with the difficulties of living a Christian life in this material world. Was the answer to cut oneself off from everything that was potentially harmful or corrupting, living in closed communities of fellow Christians to avoid pollution of body and soul? Or was it better to adopt wholeheartedly a world view of consumerism and striving for material success, leaving Sunday thoughts to Sunday alone?
As always, it is Christ who provides the answer, engaging with the world and the people of the world on His terms, living amongst the poor and the outcast, not afraid to challenge or encourage whoever seemed in need of provoking to deeper reflection and inner searching. He went to weddings and dinners, shared meals with friends and spent time with those he loved. But he also refused to be seduced by the ways of the world, angrily facing down those who tried to ensnare him with tangled logic and tainted reasoning. And regularly and frequently he sought sustenance from the source of all truth and grace, taking time out from everyday concerns to communicate with God, sharing his hopes and fears, his joys and frustrations.
As pilgrims, we have been privileged to spend some time away from our own everyday concerns, using the hours spent walking to reflect on our spiritual journeys and to reaffirm the priorities of our lives. Let us determine to take a pilgrim heart back into our daily lives.
On this last stage of the pilgrimage, try to think of three things that you have learnt during your journey. They may be insights about yourself and your character, they may be an added depth to your understanding of your world or God, or they may be three things that you have determined to change. As you determine on each thing, pick up a stone and walk with it, asking God to bless it as a reminder of your wisdom or resolution. On your return home, place these stones somewhere you will see them every day, as a reminder of your journey and all that you have learnt.
Eternal God and King, Ruler of universe.
You humbled yourself for our sakes,
Help us to live humbly with ourselves and with others in your creation,
Aware of your presence, mindful of your gifts and sharing your love with those we meet.