In the three years that I spent living in Reading, I never thought that the countryside was so close until I stumbled across the Thames Path. Initially, I was running on roads and mainly ran repeated loops of the University Campus in the dead of night – it was bleak to put it lightly. In a desperate search for running routes that didn’t entail repetitive loops alongside traffic, I started to explore the footpaths in and around town. I started mapping out all of the trails in and around town – one of my favourites being the Thames Path.
THE PATH ITSELF
Going eastbound from the town centre to Sonning on the path will gradually take you out into the countryside proper.
If you are familiar with the Reading Parkrun course you’ll recognise the first half of the route as it takes you through the riverside fields beside the Thames Valley Rowing Club. Once you leave the fields, the grassy track gives way to a more definite trail of dirt and stone for the rest of the way to Sonning.
Along the route, you will have a couple of opportunities to explore surrounding trails which branch off from the Thames Path. Just after the fields on the outskirts of Reading the Path borders a maze of well-kept and wooded systems of trail which loop around a handful of Ponds between the river and the Thames Valley Park office complex.
With the waning of summer, I find myself exploring the Thames Path far more before Autumn settles in. With Spring and autumn rain, the further along the path to Sonning the more the trail turns to a muddy slush. On bad days running the path is akin to trying to run on an ice rink. Bringing trail running shoes is recommended. In summer, however, you can take a casual stroll, ride or run along the path without having to don a pair of wellies.
If you’re not short for time you can enjoy a drink along the riverside at Coppa Club, a surprisingly trendy bar and restaurant. Or if a cosier, pub atmosphere is what you are after The Bull Inn further into the village offers a more traditional experience.