AN ADVENTUROUS Chippenham pensioner has raised more than £1,500 for charity after taking on a 187-mile walk along the Thames Path.
Sue Reed, 63, embarked on the trek, which starts near Kemble in Gloucestershire, and meanders through peaceful water meadows, unspoilt rural villages and historic towns and cities.
Mrs Reed said: “Some years ago I saw a programme where a man hitched the length of the Thames, from sea to source, on rivercraft, and I thought ‘what a fantastic thing to do’.
“I love walking and wondered if I could walk the length of the Thames.”
Her friends Margaret Clev-erley and Mel Harris, both also in their 60s, took the challenge with Mrs Reed, and walked an average of nine to ten miles a day for 20 days.
Mrs Reed said: “My two friends paid their way, but I looked for people who could offer me an evening meal and hospitality.
“I first contacted family and friends on or near the path and then vicars of parishes asking if any members of the congregation could help me.
“We were there for 20 nights and I left here not knowing where I would stay for three of them.
“Being a Christian, I knew hospitality would happen.
“For 15 nights I stayed with strangers and they were so hospitable. It’s amazing how many lovely people there are out there.”
Mrs Reed walked in aid of Water Aid and Doorway, Chippenham’s drop-in centre for the homeless where she worked for five years.
She said: “What drove me on was my desire to achieve the impossible, and knowing I was being sponsored for two worthwhile charities.
“When I was staying at strangers’ houses it made me really think hard about homeless people. I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me. They were largely positive, but some guarded.
“It made me really think a lot about Doorway visitors and very conscious of what they have to face. “ “As I was walking along the Thames, especially when it was so hot, there was a need for water and it made me think of Water Aid and how people walk miles for water.”