AN OXFORD United supporter has fulfilled a longstanding dream and walked the 266-mile Thames Path for charity.

Ashley Mason trekked the River Thames from its source, near Cirencester in Gloucestershire, to where it meets the sea at Kent's Isle of Grain.

The 42-year-old chronicled the 17-day journey on his Twitter account, @FantasticMrOx, and has raised more than £2,000 for the Oxford Transplant Foundation.

It is a poignant cause for Mr Mason after his wife, Katie, had a kidney transplant last year, but it was only at the end of the walk that he decided to ask people to donate.

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He said: "There was so much interest on social media and people I met on the journey always asked which charity I was doing it for.

"I didn't want to start raising money until the end because of the pressure and I was very close to giving up with four days to go.

"I thought it was a way to get fit, but I only lost two pounds as it was mainly flat or downhill.

"There was constant pressure on the knees, ankles and feet.

"I can't fit into shoes – I'd put my feet up and they'd feel like they were on fire."

The walk was also a trip down memory lane for Mr Mason, from Cholsey, near Wallingford.

Oxford Mail:

The Thames has been nearby for much of his life, from a childhood in the Cotswolds, university years in Oxford and even proposing to Mrs Mason on London's Waterloo Bridge.

He had always been keen to walk the river and the opportunity came when a planned holiday to Sweden fell through.

Averaging about 15.6 miles each day, the U's supporter put in the hard yards but was rewarded with some amazing views.

Oxford Mail:

He said: "A lot of people were saying it was a glorified pub crawl, but I was starting by 8am most days so they were all closed.

"The best bit might have been between Radley and Abingdon – it's absolutely stunning.

"The woods at Nuneham Courtenay came right down to the river and it was really beautiful."

Oxford Mail:

Mr Mason is now urging those who followed his journey to donate to the Oxford Transplant Foundation, which runs the transplant centre at the Churchill Hospital in Headington.

His wife was diagnosed with kidney disease four years ago, but the situation soon became more severe.

Mr Mason said: "We knew she was ill, but you wouldn't have known how bad.

"She was told at the start of last year that she needed a transplant sooner rather than later."

Her brother donated his kidney and it reaffirmed the value of the city's healthcare to Mr Mason.

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He said: "We're so lucky to have the hospitals we do in Oxford.

"Outside of London you won't get better treatment.

"It's a great cause and people should really think about being on that organ register.

"It doesn't mean anything to you once you've gone and it can save a life."

Although he would have been away regardless, the current state of football made the U's fan's decision easier.

With United forced to play games behind closed doors until further notice, Mr Mason knew he would not be missing out on match days.

He said: "I knew I wasn't going to games and find it difficult to watch on TV.

"I guess it was a once in a lifetime opportunity."