On the 26 July, The London Journalist was treated to a tailor-made adventure outside the capital. This day of discovery was led by Vespucci Adventures, a new company that provides expertly curated adventure guides for day trips close to London and weekend sojourns further afield.
Taking their name from the delightfully romantic sounding 16th-century explorer, Amerigo Vespucci, this new start-up comprised of close family friends Alex Middleton and Peter Bristowe, promises their customers a renewed sense of passion for the, often overlooked, British countryside. – And our day out of rural Thameside exploration certainly delivered.
We joined the ‘Flow River Flow!’ adventure, part of their Impulse Adventure programme designed for busy Londoners in need of some fresh air and new scenery close to the capital. This invigorating journey would take us by foot and canoe along some of the most bucolic and culturally rich stretches of the river Thames.
After just a short train ride from London Paddington to the Berkshire town of Maidenhead we embarked upon a delightful 4.6-mile walk along the verdant and surprisingly rural Thameside towpath. Passing by intriguing waterside properties in all their Edwardian and turreted glory, we felt as if like we had stepped into an E.M Forster novel, with all the accompanying lace brocades and pleasure barges that go along with it.
Arriving at the water-bound part of our adventure and boarded our canoes, courtesy of H20 Adventures. This leg of the journey would take us four hours and around 3,600 paddle strokes, across four weirs to the royal town of Windsor. – Our hearts and minds enriched by the lush idyllic scenery with our bodies in constant motion and exertion. We canoed through a series of charming riverside locations such as Eton, and a particular highlight was our view of the Cliveden estate from the river.
Built in Italianate grandeur by the world-famous Astor Dynasty, Cliveden House provided the setting of the great British political scandal the Profumo affair, and more recently was where the Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle spent the night before her royal wedding. The formidable house stands proudly over the Thames and makes for a truly regal vista.
Our journey, taken at the height of 2018’s rather extreme British summer, meant we also bore witness to the blossoming bird and marine life of the river. Bringing us us closer to the nature, we didn’t realise we were craving, whilst admiring the many beautiful private boats that passed us by.
The afternoon was broken by a delightfully British picnic. Served by the Vespucci team, we indulged in zesty vegan salads and freshly baked bread. Sitting on the sun-dappled riverbank of Boulters Island, we rested ahead of the second leg of our journey.
Setting off again, we found a safe spot perfect for some wild swimming! This rural part of the Thames, we were assured, was quite unlike its London contingent. Clear flowing and fresh, the clean cool water and river breeze provided ample respite on the hottest day of the year.
Vespucci has successfully tapped into the market of hard-working Londoners wanting a mini-break from the same old bender-weekenders. Removing the stress of planning and research, Vespucci have devoted themselves to curating the most perfect days out and weekends away, allowing busy Londoners to feel spontaneous and find their own adventure with the safety net of a solid structure.
An easy, stress-free way to experience something different, even just for a day, Londoners can lead a more balanced life including time to play and time to get away, and they may just improve their physical and mental wellbeing too. So what are you waiting for? Rediscover the splendour of the English countryside with a spontaneous stress-free weekend sojourn from city life.
‘Flow River Flow’, available for free download here, is part of the Impulse Adventure programme: This category includes walks, cycle rides and canoe trips for one or two days within striking distance of the capital. Described as “curated yet self-guided” trips, customers can download free Adventure packs that include routes and charming pub recommendations for a truly British and bucolic day or two away from London. Also available are Signature (£30) and Bespoke packages (at a tailored cost) for longer trips away in locations throughout the UK.
Words: Annie May Noonan