I loved the freedom of riding a bicycle when I was a child.
My youngest son is eleven years old and this summer he asked how far I thought he could ride in a day.
We had done sections of the Thames Path around Maidenhead but then he asked if we could ride to Hammersmith.
Checking the route online, I told him it might take five hours. We left on a warm Sunday morning, stocked up with drinks and snacks.
The path from Maidenhead to Windsor was one of the most beautiful on the whole route with dappled light under the trees until we emerged onto the meadow near Eton and the impressive outline of Windsor Castle came into view.
The path is well signposted: we had a break then crossed Windsor Bridge and continued on the south bank.
Approaching Datchet bridge, we were riding on grass past fishermen patiently waiting for fish to bite. Crossing the bridge, the path follows the north bank past Datchet until the Summerlea Road bridge then follows the south bank past Old Windsor Lock to Runnymede where we took our second break.
After nearly two hours riding, we could have headed back. We pressed on to Staines and to Chertsey where we stopped at The Kingfisher pub for lunch.
The long ride on to Hampton took about an hour and tested our resolve. We crossed the river on Hampton bridge and cycled past the visitors around the palace and on to Kingston.
We had to walk our bikes through the crowds before continuing to Richmond, also busy along the waterside, on to Kew and eventually to Hammersmith Bridge.
We had left at 10am and it was now 6pm; I reckoned the distance was about 42 miles. My son said he could not wait to tell his friends at school.