Making the most of the river – an ongoing free show.
You’d be hard-pushed to not be aware of the River Thames if you live in Caversham.
Like all rivers large and small, the Thames varies over the year – sometimes significantly, sometimes less so. And, sometimes, it changes remarkably rapidly.
I’ve known times when it’s been so low that it’s been a publicly acknowledged concern. And there have been plenty of times when the big ‘ditch’ it’s in (as I like to think of it), has been too full. Sometimes the resulting floods are relatively safe, encroaching on areas where it does little or no harm. The riverside promenades, for example. But it has the capacity to cause some very significant damage. Lower Caversham has been properly flooded in the past – with boats needed to reach people.
This link to the Reading Museum photo collection shows Washington Road, off Gosbrook Road.
Flood management is far better now, but there will always be limits to what can be managed. And climate change means more extreme weather happening more frequently – floods, droughts and everything else. It’s certainly something I’d keep in mind if I was renting or buying a property that’s vulnerable. (Living in Oxford years ago, the place I was renting was partially flooded. That first-hand experience makes me doubly sympathetic to anyone who experiences anything similar.)
But aside from the dramatic events, the river can be a gently changing – but always changing – free show. An accompaniment for a walk perhaps. Or something to simply sit and gaze at. As they say – sometimes I sits and thinks, and sometimes I just sits.
I’d certainly say that the Thames is something to appreciate and value. And something to get to know if you don’t already. The simplest walk is between the two bridges (Caversham and Reading), but as a quick look at this map, below, shows, there are plenty of options.
A few notes about access to the most obvious walks:
On Caversham Bridge, Reading side of the river: there are slopes rather than stairs for access, leading from riverside to the road.
On Caversham Bridge, Caversham side of the river: slope for access – getting to the riverside via Promenade Road.
Christchurch Bridge, both sides of the river offers slopes rather than steps.
Reading Bridge, Reading side of the river has steps-only access to the east, unless you go on a detour along King’s Meadow Road. To the west, you can get down to the river via the round Thames Water building’s grounds, but that means crossing the (often) jammed road.
Reading Bridge, Caversham side of the river: there’s a (fairly steep) slope for access on the east of the bridge. There are only steps on the west side.
(In summary, for an easy to access but, as it were, circular walk, using Caversham and Christchurch Bridges will generally be your best bet, all other things being equal.)
As well as the photo, below, there is a gallery of related photos of the Thames on the RG4 website.
And on Caversham’s sister site, ‘Getting Directions’, you can find some different thoughts about being by the river, including at the foot of the page a photo gallery of much more angry water – also all of the River Thames.