The taxi arrived on time to pick me up from the rose revived public house who had kindly let me park my car in the car park for the day. The taxi journey took about 20 to 25 minutes and dtrop me off at the national trust car park near Buscot Weir.
The river bends and twists quite a lot up at this end but it’s an approximately 15 to 20m wide most of the time. I saw a few pill boxes as I started out on the walk and I made a note to try and find out why there are so many this side of the country.
The weather was sunny and promised to be in 21 degrees during the heat of the day so I erred on the side of caution taking less clothing than I actually needed early in the morning. There was still a bit of chill in the air but the sun was warming me up.
The day’s walk would be 15 miles and would include two pubs en route and one at the end. as I approached the first pub Ye Olde Swan I noticed in the field what I thought might be hares ears but on closer inspection they turned out to be clumps of snakehead fritillaries. I pulled in at the pub for a glass of orange juice and soda water and polished off a couple of packets of crisps. Over the river and next to the thames path were a bunch of wigwams which seems to be very well equipped including log burners inside.
Wildlife was out in force on the next stretch to pub number two I could hear Curlews around calling and surprisingly I heard a ruddy duck and then a bit further on her the cuckoo which I did managed to track down and got great views of. I thought I could also hear warblers in some of the reeds and rushes.
When I reached the Trout Inn at Radcot I continued on I wasn’t ready to stop, I figured I would stop somewhere in the Chimney nature reserve. I got close up views of another Cuckoo about halfway through the Nature reserve. I eventually stopped at Shifford lock, where the lock keeper roped me into holding the painter of a barge with only one person onboard. I rested after the exertion and eat my sandwiches, taking my time because I had made good progress.
I got to the Rose Revived about 1600, but did not stop for a drink, I headed straight back.
This next step of the thames path with prove a transport challenge. The number of buses between Buscot and Cricklade are pretty few and require a change and take about 2 hours . My solution was to order a taxi life is to short to worry about things like that.
I had an early start at 6 left the house at just after 7 that got me to Buscot village at about 8:30. It took me 10 minutes to get sorted get my boots on and by the time I had walked to the village shop and the taxi arrived more less as I got there. Perfect timing!
The taxi dropped me off at the centre of Cricklade, in fact, exactly where I am parked the car the previous week so I didn’t miss a single foot step of the path. The river meanders quite a lot at this stage of the 10th and so the path is not no direct so although I would be walking 13 miles, as the crow flies it was considerably shorter.
The weather was 5 degrees so freezing I set off at a fairly good pace to get the blood circulating and warm me up. By about 10:30 the sun was starting to show through which made a big difference.
I passed through Castle Eaton which I remember from the first time I walked the Thames. The Jehovah witnesses were knocking on doors as I walked through the village. I avoided eye contact as I was on a mission to get some miles done. I did find time to look at the church of St Mary’s which is 8th Century.
Towards Kempsford the path goes along a main road for about 2km which is not fun. I chose to leave the path and take a longer route via the edge or RAF Fairford. It was a good decision as I witnessed 3 B52s taking off. When I got to the perimeter fence there were lots of, mainly men, on step ladders taking pictures.
The road into Welford, then took me into a private housing scheme around a gravel pit. The houses looked very modern and had open plan living all with a water view, and all identical.
At Lechlade i stopped for a coffee at Lynwood & Co they do a great coffee and great pistachio coconut and carrot cake. There were only a few miles left to Buscot Weir where the days journey finished.
I enjoyed walking the Thames path a couple of years ago and decided that I would walk it again this year. The weatherman was promising good weather for Saturday and Helen was away so it seemed like the right day to start. I was not wrong.
Thams path day 1 Cirencester to Cricklade
The Thames Path is a National Trail following the River Thames from its source near Kemble in Gloucestershire to the Thames Barrier at Charlton, south east London. It is about 184 miles (296 km) long. A path was first proposed in 1948 but it only opened in 1996.
The Thames Path’s entire length can be walked, and a few parts can be cycled. Some parts of the Thames Path, particularly west of Oxford, are subject to flooding during the winter. The river is also tidal downstream from Teddington Lock and parts of the path may be under water if there is a particularly high tide, although the Thames Barrier protects London from catastrophic flooding.
The Thames Path uses the river towpath between Inglesham and Putney and available path elsewhere. Historically, towpath traffic crossed the river using many ferries. but crossings in these places do not all exist now and some diversion from the towpath is necessary.
The far end of the Thames is 1:40 drive from home, so I managed to get an early night and left the house at 05:45. Unfortunately I just missed the 07:30 bus from Cricklade, where I parked the car, to Cirencester. I then had to wait till 08:12 which was the one I had planned to get. It was cold at the bus stop. Google maps was tellin me that there was a 51a bus at 08:12 but the notice on the bus stop said otherwise. I toyed with Uber but then ended up downloading the StageCoach app, which confirmed the 08:12 was a thing.
The bus sort of followed the route would be walking, it was quite foggy in places but the sun was out and burning it away pretty quickly. I got off the bus at Chesterton Cemetery then walked through the grounds of the Royal Agricultural College where there was lots of jogging going on. There was not much jogging happening when I was at college! I soon left the grounds and into the countryside. There were a few small hills to cross, the only ones of the day, before I got to the source of the Thames. I had been up for 4 and walking for one hours by that time, so I sat on the rock that denotes the source, ate my sandwiches cheese pickle sandwiches and regretted not having a flask of coffee with me.
A couple arrived and we got talking one of them was doing the last stretch, but in the wrong direction. They kindly took my picture while I stood in front of the stone monument and sign point past the source it self, a pile of rocks. There was no water in sight. I headed off on my way just a tad to fast as it would result in blisters towards the end of the day. It is about a mile or so of walking before you get to a riverbed with water in it, but an friendly old boy walking his dog assured me that a month ago the field around were flooded.
The far end of the river is very clear, in the bright sun I could see the clak gravel bottom of bright green under water plants. I could see a swans head as it reached down in the the depths to graze on the weed. The path is very easy to follow just keep the river on one side and if crossed keep it on the other. For lunch I stopped at the White Hart in Ashton Keynes, where a pint of orange juice and soda water and a fish finger really hit the spot. They kindly refilled my water bottle.
I then entered the stretch that would take me through loads of gravel pits. I guess they are there from building the M40. From a walking point of view they are a bit tedious, I prefer meadows. Quite a few of them are private and some have houses or holiday house clones encircling them. I was not in the best of moods as that point because my quick pace had now resulted in blisters on both feet. I had had a similar thing happen a few times before, you would have thought I had learnt my lesson by now.
The last couple of miles took me back on to meadows again and my spirit rose gain. I stopped and took a timelapse with my new DJI Osmo Pocket camera. Then headed towards Cricklade where I grabbed a coffee and a cake before finding my car and heading home. It got home almost exactly 12 hours after I left a long day, but it was great to be back walking the Thames Path.
I noticed whilst doing some googling that in the local army firing range that there is a village that was abandoned during the war. According to [https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tyneham] wikipedia : “Tyneham is a ghost village and former civil parish, now in the civil parish of Steeple with Tyneham, in south Dorset, England, near Lulworth on the Isle of Purbeck. In 2001 the civil parish had a population of 0. The civil parish was abolished on 1 April 2014 and merged with Steeple to form Steeple with Tyneham.” At Christmas 1943 the army requisitioned the village and moved the villagers out.
The village is only open at the weekends so we decided that we should go and have a look while we could. The road to the village is quite remote and narrow, but there are plenty of passing places, which are needed.
We parked up and and paid the voluntary £2 donation. The Purbeck marathon was passing through, it seems like quite a tough one as the hills are very steep in the area, Tyneham was at mile 15. We looked around the abandoned buildings which were mainly centered around a farm. Most of them have lost their roofs, but there are information boards explaining the buildings and the people that lived and used the buildings.
We then took a walk down to a Warbarrow Bay, where I climbed up the pointy hill call Warbarrow Tout and got a good view of Cow Corner. They have some great names for landscape feature in these parts.
Back in in Swanage town we watched the runners finishing the marathon. I had an ice cream and we had a look around the slot machine arcade. They are not what they used to be like.
Helen wanted a day pottering around at the local beach so I took the opportunity to go for a long walk. The other day when we passed Camelford I notice a high pointy hill, it turns out it was either Brown Willy or Roughtor the two highest peaks in Cornwall. Bodmin Moor upon which both are, is a granite moorland, and a fair chunk of it is open access land, meaning that you can walk where ever you like, although they prefer you to keep to the waymarked paths.
There is a car park at the end of a lane fairly close to the bottom of Roughtor, so the start was a rude awakening, after a very short down hill the path heading directly up towards the summit. I overtook a few people on the way, my regular walking in the Chilterns paying off. At a saddle in the hill I took a left turn and checked out Showery Tor my first of the day. The path to Roughtor was relatively flat from the lower Tor, but then kicked up towards the summit. There were some natural standing stones at the top , and a cairn but no trig point that was reserved for Brown Willie.
I chatted to a guy having a coffee break and asked a bout the route to Brown Willie, his route would have had me retracing my steps. I could see a path up the highest tour in the bottom of the valley, so I headed down off piste. I found a path at the bottom an a steep path heading up. So far I had climbed 120m to get up Roughtor then descended 110m to get the the bottom of Brown Willie, I now had another 120m to the top of the highest peak. The hill was taking its toll on my leg muscles.
At the summit of Brown Willie there is again standing stones, and a cairn, but there is also a trig point. In the hole in the middle of the trig point I found a metal cross on some string. It took some effort to fish it out because the hole was smaller than my hand. After some research I found out it was an Icelandic Wolf Cross. I put it back where it came from and put a rock in the hole to cover it.
The next (and longest part) of the walk had me heading south west to Butter’s Tor then West to Garrow Tor. I passed an enclosure called King Arthurs Hall then the hamlet of Candra and about a half mile later I turned North East to take in Alex Tor. Down from this last Tor I picked up a track heading East for a couple of miles which I then left to head north round the base of Rough Tor, for anther mile and a bit back to the car park.
By the time I had finished I was knackered, but it was not the distance it was the ascent and descent that had tired me out. It was well worth the effort as I had spent most of the day not seeing a soul in the wide and open landscape, very different to where I normally get to walk.
It was raining when we got up, in fact drizzle had refused visibility to only a couple of hundred yards. Our first stop would be Lanhydrock a fine property. We were there just 5 minutes before the house opened. The Americans described the volunteer the other side of the closed door a pit bull as no one would be allowed in before 1100 on the dot. I could not find my yellow token and was almost ejected by her until a third search of my pockets uncovered the golden ticket to freedom of the house.
I made the most of my 360 camera whilst walking around the rooms. One technique to avoid being in the picture was to hold the stick out into the room round a door way. We headed to the exit and I had a great pasta and pesto salad. Next stop was a chandler’s at Par, to get some bits to make a new swivel bit for my camera strap. I got two bits that would help make something up.
Trerice is down some very narrow lanes but we made it with too many giving way events. The house is quite small so and we had been there before so we did not stay that long. The return journey to the main road, was a bit tedious as there were lots of cars coming the other way it took about 5 minutes of waiting before we got there. We stopped off at some promising shops on the way back for some supplies but they were all a bit disappointing, compared to the pictures available on google maps.
When we got back I went for a run which was a bit of an effort because unlike the map I planned it on it had a couple of very steep hills.
Helen’s foot was not playing g up, so we decided to have another day walking. The plan: dump the car at Treyarnon bay car park then walk back round the coat to Trevone. Then layer I would walk or run back to get the car using the direct route. The raids were very narrow most of the way there even more so as we left Trevone and approached Treyarnon. We had to give way for a couple of cars, o hate to think what it might that be like high season.
The beach at Treyarnon is very popular I think partly because there is a youth hostel. The car park cost £4 for the day which seems reasonable. We headed out on the coastal path and examined the many benches on the shoreline some of them recent some dating back to the 70’s, some made of standard wood others steel, and some built of Cornish slate.
We noticed a lot more birds than we had the day before, first we saw the ever present Oystercatchers, then when Helen and I took different routs, me across the beach and up the rocks and Helen round the path, I spotted a seal and Helen three Wheatear. On another beach three Turnstone landed on a rock just ahead of me, they called alarmingly when a dog started to chase them.
At the end of Trevose Head is the Trevose Lighthouse, which was looking very white perhaps it had had a lick of paint recently. As we approached Harlyn bay we sat and watched while a couple in an inflatable, tried t start their outboard, and use paddles to get back to shore. They made very slow progress. Eventually Helen thought we should tell the RNLI on the beach, but by the time we got down there they had finally made it to the shore. We passed the guy carrying the broken down outboard on his shoulder and passed the time of day., he seemed quite nonchalant about the whole adventure.
As we left the beach Helen heard a frantic dog whistle and we spied a couple calling for their dog as it paddled out to sea, eventually the man stripped down to his trunks and went in after the dog. I’m guessing it is not such an unusual event because the man had his trunks on and after the rescue he continued to chuck the ball in the sea for the very obedient dog.
We stopped for 7up and chips at the beach car park burger van. Then we did the final mile and a bit back to Trevone. We rested for a bit then I tried to run the direct route back the the car.. I managed to do the 3.3 miles in under 12 minute miles speed which I was happy with, and it was my first time out on the road, up until then I had been using a treadmill.
We were up fairly early as a result of a Aprilia bed and hanging on to bed early tonight before. rather than using the car we decided a walk around the Peninsula to Padstow and then take the short route back over the hills or have the option to get the taxi or bus back would be a good idea for the first day. I put on an extra layer but once we got two things that were in the sun it proved unnecessary.
Once we left Trevone bay the path flattened,. Out and apart from one drop and climb. The sun continued to shine as we stopped for a rest at Stepper Point, while looking for seals, but didn’t spot any. We waved at the coast watchers in thier hut as we walked past. I resisted the opportunity to drop in a chat about radios. We dropped down then stopped off at the Rest A While tea room for a welcome coffee.
As soon as we could get to the beach we did then walked along the beach until we got to the low tide ferry drop off. Apparently the tide was unusually low, there was definitely lots of sand exposed some of it had green sea weed growing in it. Padstow was Sergio Ramos but we found a wood fired pizza place called embers ( yes it trendily used no caps to spell its name). We shared a pizza and had some slaw and green salad to go with it. Whilst eating Dave from DPD delivered my software defined radio, (more about that later).
Helen decided that a taxi would be the best way back to the hut. I decided to walk back and meet her at the beach. I chose the beach shortcut and just about timed it right, then Idropped into the coast watch hut and had a chat with the volunteer. Helen had been paddling on the beach when I arrived back.
I was planning on going for a run but I had done enough exercise for the day I had managed 12 miles. We had D nber at the hut.
We are on holiday for a coupled weeks in Cornwall the Dorset. we decided to go A41 then A420 via Swindon and Bristol. The traffic was pretty light though it did get a bit sticky around Exeter. We stopped for coffee at a service station around Taunton then we carried on past Exeter on to the A30 then we stopped just the most northerly point of Dartmoor to have a look at a National Trust Forge.
Finches Forge is a working Forge, although there are only one workstation where in days gone by they were several. We spent about an hour at the Forge time to have a look around the exhibits and get a snack before heading off down the road to Padstow then Trevone.
Back on the A30 we passed a place with an interesting name Broadwoodwidger according to Wikipedia “The name derives from broad wood of the Wyger family and is first documented as Brod(e)wode Wyger in 1306. The manor here passed from the Vypund family to the Wygers before 1273. It was earlier known simply as Broad wood, for example it appears as Bradewode in the Domesday Book of 1086”. We could get into the rental property at 3 so decided to stop off in Padstow to do some shopping at the Tesco’s superstore, which turned out to be no bigger than the Tesco at Tring. After getting a few days supply I decided to drive down through Padstow because we had 10 minutes to waste, it turned out to be a mistake.
We got stuck in pedestrian traffic down near the harbour then took a wrong turning and had to go down a lane that the car barely fitted down then at the end of that LN we had to reverse the car a little bit to get round the corner which took us down a one way street back to where we started. it didn’t take us long to get out of town after we found the right road and we were soon down into the very narrow lanes of Trevone full stop the cottage was easy to find and it seemed like a nice place to spend a week.
We had a sandwich then wandered down to have a look at the beach and the big hole on the other side. There was a couple of small beaches all but one golden sand, the odd one was grey sand. The air temperature was cool but we expected it to get a bit warmer in the week to come. There were a few hardy souls swimming without wet suits. There is a big hole on the site of a hill when I say big I mean 50m in diameter at the top and about 10m at the bottom, where you can see the waves crashing because there is obviously a cave that leads through to the sea.
We sat for a while and watched the world go by and then went back to the hut for a veggie burger and salad, and discuss the plans for Sunday.
I planned an early start, not not as early as it ended up. I wake at 5 and finally gave in and got up about 05:30, which meant I left the house at 06:00 on the dot. The roads were clear and I made it to Goring station by 07:00 in good time to board the 07:07 to Didcot Parkway. The train only had two carriages and after a few people got off that left just me and another person on the train.
I was the only person to alight at Didcot Parkway I went out the front of the station to orient myself, there was a taxi so rather than messing with a bus then a taxi I took the bird in the hand and waited for a taxi. One arrived dropping off but would not take my fare the next one said I would have to call his number. Weird I thought, but he explained that he was not licensed to use the taxi rank only pre-arranged trips. I got my phone out and before I could unlock it he said he would give me a fare any way. At one point he got on the A34 he had misunderstood my destination when I said the ridgeway just outside Wantage, he thought I meant Ridgeway a village nearby. I asked why he was going on the A34 we figured out the problem and he said he would only charge me for normal fare to Wantage. By the time we got to the Ridgeway the fare was £40 but he only charged me £30. It can be expensive this walking lark.
The drop off suited me because I was already high up it had saved me a hard slog up hill. It was quiet at first but after 09:00 there were mre walkers and cyclists. Also a few motor vehicles, 4×4’s and motor bikes, but no more than 10 all day. Eventually I had to drop down because the path goes under the A34. The place is surrounded by land used as gallops, and I saw a few horses being exercised in the distance.
According to a mural in the tunnel under the A34 East Isley is famous sheep but not wool spinners. It was my destination in the hope of getting some lunch. It was a 1.5 mile detour of the path but I figured worth it. Because of my early start I was going to get there for 11:00, which meant only the Swan would be open. I got there but it turns out they do not do food till 12:00 so I had two packets of crisps and a half of bitter. It sat in the shade as it was getting ht in the sun.
The path rises for about 4 miles then slowly descends towards Streatley. When you get close there are some very nice houses in the last couple of miles, and the last mile and a half are on the pavement of busy roads. At Streatley I stopped to get some pictures of the buttercups which were in full bloom. I grabbed some cakes from the delicatessen to share with Helen when I got home.
Considering I had walked 16 miles and the early start meant I was finished by 15:00 an home by 16:00. Last year when I was walking the Thames 16 miles would have been a struggle, but although I felt I had walked a long way I could have walked further if need be.