I work across the Thames from the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake and on many occasions I've thought to myself, "Can you run round the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake?". I've plotted a route on Google Maps on several occasions and it appeared do-able, but never actually tried it, until today 🙂 .
Last week I noticed them doing some severe mowing over on that side of the river so today I thought I'd go see if I could run right round and answer that question...
Can you run round the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake?
After today's run, I can say: YES. Yes you can run round the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake. Look, I did it (switch to the Google Satellite view to get the most accurate data):
Would you want to run round the Redgrave Pinsent Rowing Lake?
Probably not. It's not the easiest of runs. There's also one major hurdle to get over, but I'll get on to that in a moment.
As you can see from the above route, I started at the David Lloyd gym and headed downstream along the Thames to Sonning, crossed Sonning bridge, diced with death for a little while before cutting into Sonning Eye. I then followed the signs and road for the Reading Sailing Club. Once there, I continued straight through their car park and out the outside. Up until this point, things were pretty easy. Nice smooth flat paths and gravel roads.
Once through the sailing club car park, I followed a foot path which got progressively narrow and harder to follow. After a little detour and a short stumble through some nettles up to my waist, I back-tracked a bit and started following a path along the shore line. Soon this too started to narrow and fade and on several occasions I found myself stopping to locate the path again. After a couple more minutes of running, the I got the distinct feeling the paths were no longer from human traffic, but more likely wildlife traffic as I found myself ducking under low branches and leaping over thorny bushes. I also ran through shoulder high reeds, still following a path, until eventually I ran out of land. I'd followed the shore of the main lake and rounded a small lake being fed by the larger lake. Two ankle deep wading steps were called for and I was back on my way along a path.
After a little more rambling and fighting for a path, I entered a very large opening which had recently been mown. From here onwards things were pretty easy going and I started getting quite cocky with myself thinking I could come along with a machete and clear away the tougher bits of the path I'd just covered and this could be a regular route. I also secretly hoped they'd mow this bit I was running across regularly. Soon I found myself on the lovely smooth tarred section that runs along the north side of the rowing lake heading towards the clubhouse and my route out onto the road and back to the gym. And then I encountered my major hurdle: an 8 foot high green metal fence with pointy bits on top. Yes folks, the Oxfordshire side of the rowing lake is all fenced in with no pedestrian gates and the only gate out being the electric one by the clubhouse, which required a pin code. Oh poooh!!!
I doubled back on myself and ran back along the rowing path to see if I could find a convenient place to scale the fence. No luck. That's one high fence, and given the spikes on the fence and the brambles and other wild vegetation on either side, I didn't want to risk clambering over in my wet shoes. So cap-in-hand I went back to the club house, ventured in, surprised a very friendly man in a Team GB tracksuit, explained how I got in and asked if he could let me out. Surprised by how I got in, the man kindly let me out and I was on my way. I felt like a captive bird set free.
I then foolishly thought I spotted a shortcut back, which turned out not to be and soon found myself heading back towards where I'd come from. Thankfully, this time the fence next to me was only waist high, so I jumped that and diced with death back to Sonning Eye; running head-on into traffic on narrow roads without any pavements is pretty daunting. Once in Sonning Eye, it was plain sailing back to the gym.
So, would I do it again?
Definitely not. I enjoyed by run today, but I don't think the rowing peeps will be too happy with me repeatedly asking to be let out like a puppy needing a wee. I also don't think my legs can handle too many scratching sessions like today's and I don't think they'll be whacking a convenient path for me anytime soon.
So there you have it folks... if you've run along the Thames and wondered if you could run round the Redgrade Pinsent rowing lake, I can proudly say you can, but you probably don't want to.