Thames Path – Newbridge to Radcot Bridge

Radcot Lock
Radcot Lock

This stretch is probably the most isolated one so far, possibly the whole Thames, 10 miles with just one bridge between the start and finish points. I parked up at the Maybush pub at Newbridge just before 10:00 the plan was to seek permission to leave my car there then bus it to Farringdon via Kingston Bagpuize, then find a taxi to get to Radcot Bridge, so I could walk back to the Maybush.

The pub did not open till 10:00 so I popped my head in the kitchen door and asked if I could leave my car, they kindly agreed that it would be OK. I cross the river to find the bus stop outside the pub on the other side of the river. I would have a 20 minute wait for the X15 bus. The bus was on time cost £1.70 and I got off at Spring Hill where I had another 10 minutes to wait for the Stagecoach 66 to Swindon, via Farringdon my destination. The bus was again on time and my fate was £3. So far so good, my next challenge would be to find a taxi in Farringdon.

A bend in the river Thames
A bend in the river Thames

I got a taxi number from the tourist information office and arranged to be picked up from the market square, they said they could do a car in 30 minutes so I went in the cafe on the square for a coffee and a piece of apple cake. The cage was both a cafe called The Faringdon Coffee House and a restaurant called Al Roche Lebanese Restaurant.

The taxi was 5 minutes late and cost £10, the driver dropped me off in the pub car park by the bridge, which I had to cross to get on the path. The weather was bright but overcast, hazy and quite humid, so I soon list my out layer. The path was over grown and became increasingly so as the day passed. The was lots of bird life about of note were quite a few curlews, warblers including reed, and reed buntings. I saw a warbler which was light grey with a very black head which at first glance was a black cap but which I decided needed to be looked up when I got home.

Hot tub at the Maybush pub at Newbridge
Hot tub at the Maybush pub at Newbridge

I skipped The Trout inn at the only road I would cross that day, and eventually stopped at mike 5 the halfway point, where I found a foot bridge to sit on and enjoy the view. Whilst sat there eating my Aldi home brand Nutella spread sandwiches, I could hear Cuckoos and Curlews calling constantly, and apart from the OS aircraft there was not a man made sound to hear. At one point a stoat started its way up the bridge, but turned back when I reached for my camera.

The rest of the path was a rural as ever and I did not see a soul except for a couple at a lock. I passed a few boats and a couple of pedalos as I got close to the Maybush pub, as well as a few walkers. I had truly been on a remote stretch where people don’t really venture. I arrived at the Maybush at 15:30 and had walked just short of 10 miles, which meant I may have cut some corners because my guide book said 10 exactly.

Thames Path – Newbridge to Wolvercote

Newbridge on the Thames
Newbridge on the Thames

This stretch took a bit of thought because it was starting to get rural. I knew where I had to start/finish but how far to walk so I could get to the other end easily was an issue. Kinston Bagpuize was an obvious choice (including the strange name), but would have involved a long walk and buses to get to Wolvercote. In the end I decided to go for Newbridge by taxi from Oxford centre, it would mean I could do a 11 mile stretch and set myself up well for the subsequent leg.

I parked in a car park at Wolvercote and walked into the village where I got the bus last time. Interestingly the village has quite a few pubs two of them overlooking a village green, it seemed quite quaint. As I approached the bus stop a bloke in a hoodie walking towards me looked at me and seemed to change his mind, and go to the bus stop stand there and spit, then when he realised I was going to the bus stop he walked up the road I had come from, looking back at me. He was acting very suspiciously.  I had a 10 minute wait for the bus, but I never saw any more of the dodgy geezer.

Lots of Goslings on the Thames
Lots of Goslings on the Thames

It did not take long to get to Oxford on the number 6 bus, which dropped me off at the cross roads at the north end of the high street. I dropped I to Starbucks for a coffee and cake, and asked about a taxi rank, which I found after a Kenyan Puccino. The taxi office was a strange place having loads of high value slot machines along side the despatcher. The estimate was about £28 to Newbridge, a lot but I did not have much choice the next bus was in two days!

I got chatting to the Lithuanian driver, who had been working since 1800 the day before, his views on immigration were interesting given that he was one himself, he clearly considered himself European and not an immigrant it was the people from outside Europe who need to be controlled. It just proves that the whole situation is almost intractable.

Vintage lorry
Vintage lorry

I was dropped off at the bridge at Newbridge where a sign explained that there was another 40 miles to go, however I was doing a stretch the wrong way so my total would only be 40 once I had done the days 12 miles. Not long after I started I came across some geese and goslings there were at least 50 goslings with about 10 adults. The route was very rural and I kept on catching up with a family in a barge at locks and moorings, until I got to the Ferryman pub opposite Bablock Hythe, where I stopped for a coffee.

The path forces you inland for a couple of miles and runs parallel to the river about half a km inland. There were lots of sheep in the fields and at one field boundary with a lot of bleating going on all the mums were corralled for shearing. At Pinkhill  lock I stopped to eat my Belgium beer cheese sandwiches, which I had packed because the path did not really go near many option for food. Two lock keepers were on duty one young lady and and older woman I wondered if the younger one was and apprentice.

Buttercups
Buttercups

On the last leg I could hear a music beat in the distance and eventually came across a rave on the other bank. The meadows were very covered in buttercups and other wild flowers a sign of ancient fields with no pesticides. After 4 hours I hit the 10 mike mark and only another like and a bit got me back to the car, but not before seeing two blokes swimming in the Thames.

I drove home and had a quick shower before we went to A&C’s for dinner followed by a Proclaimers gig at the Waterside Theatre.

Thames Path – Lower Radley to Wolvercote via Oxford

House on the Thames
House on the Thames

Woke up to overcast skies and light rain, as well as a bad nights sleep, but I was still determined to get another stretch of the Thames under my belt. I would be passing through Oxford hopefully stopping off at a Hindu Festival at Rosehill I had seen posted on Facebook. I was up early and unusually had scrambled eggs on toast for breakfast.

Where to end the walk was a challenge, the Pear Tree Park and ride was about the right distance but a half mile walk from the river. My plan was to park at Wolvercote near the river then walk to the park and ride, but when I got there I was right next to a bus stop so after a short wait I was on my way to the city centre to get the 35 to Lower Radley where I had finished the week before.

House next to Folly Bridge Oxford
House next to Folly Bridge Oxford

Whilst in a queue of traffic near my destination I saw a woman and no less than three young kids on a three person bike (one kid looked too young to pedal) they were on an incline and very low gear but they got to the top in the end. The bus to the centre took in a neighbourhood with some very large three storey houses, I wonder who lives there perhaps the Oxford professors?

A short walk from one end of the high street to the other was needed to get the bus out of town, then a short wait for the 35. The first bus was £2.10 and the one to Radley station was £2.60, what with the free parking it would be a relatively cheap transport day.

The path is a bit over grown from the rowing club and I noticed a few Fresh water clam shells on the path. I’m not sure what would be able to dive for them then eat them, and also leave them on the path. I heard a Cuckoo which sounded quite close, and after scanning the tops of the trees I managed to get a glimpse, I always think it is better to see a bird than just hear it to claim the tick on the year list.

Buttercup field showing ridge and furrow
Buttercup field showing ridge and furrow

At Iffley lock I headed away from the river and up hill through a very well to do area called Rosehill where the Festival was being held. It turned out to be not what I was expecting, it was a small affair all indoors, I was expecting a big setup. I did not stay long as the food was not ready and I was expecting rain early afternoon and needed to get a move on.

The towpath became very good as I approached Oxford, and I passed a lot of college boat houses. Many of the boats rowing past were being shouted at by their coxes, one especially wax causing everyone one on the river bank to look round to see this small woman in the back shout at the top of her voice. I passed an interesting building which I later regretted not checking out. it was the Isis Farmhouse at Iffley it is a pub but s inaccessible by road, there were blackboards advertising food and it looked run down in a good way. I skipped it because it was too early for lunch. I eventually got to the Head of the River pub in Oxford, I looked around for a good establishment but there was nothing else near by I ended up spending £15 on a Prawn and Crab Linguini.

Weir at Wolverton
Weir at Wolverton

On the way out of Oxford I came across a pub called The Punter, a bit if a player in words, do they mean a customer or a person in a boat, or both. The river was tree lined and a boat with a French name was moored up, at a glance you could have been in France. Soon the I was in a rural area with meadows on each side, the buttercups showed evidence if ridge and furrows farming.

At Godstow lock there us a ruin of a nunnery and I found out that the meadows had not had chemical fertiliser on them for 4000 years and many rare wild flowers grow. Four walls but no roof was left if the nunnery. A short walk in land got me back to the car, it turns out I had parked near the wrong tributary. The total mileage was 11 miles a good distance. The next leg was going to be a challenge, not many towns, villages or roads about.

Oxford on a sunny Spring day

Pitt Rivers musuem Oxford
Pitt Rivers musuem Oxford

Woke up to a sunny day which according to the weather man would be warm at 16 degrees C. A trip to Oxford was in order, a quick Google threw up a Cezanne exhibition at the Ashmolean and an exhibition about the Japan tsunami at the Pitt Rivers, then of course there is always a good browse around the great book shop called Blackwells.

After a leisurely breakfast we headed out to the Thornhill park and ride which is the best way to “do” Oxford from our side. A bus was waiting when we got there and we were soon treading the streets off the City Centre. We headed first to the Ashmolean as it was a paid for and timed entry, £20 lighter but having got some back from HMRC via gift aid we were viewing some rarely seen Cezanne’s. Helen would have liked more paintings , there were quire a few sketches, but was impressed by the Sisley river scape painting.

Natural History Museum Oxford
Natural History Museum Oxford

Next we headed towards the Natural History museum to seen the photo exhibition in the Pitt Rivers we stopped at an independent coffee shop and grabbed a falafel and humus sandwich coffee and cake which we ate on a bench outside the museum. Apart from being a great museum full of Natural history cabinets the building is very interesting. if you take a look from the outside the windows frames are all different, they have a similar overall design but some have more ornate edges than others. On the inside there are a series of columns that are part of the balcony that gives views over the ground floor, each one is made of a different UK rock variety.

Blackwells Oxford photo point
Blackwells Oxford photo point

Whilst there I took the opportunity to take a panorama of the main hall, which also has a very ornate steel roof with lots of glass panels in it. We then ventured in to the Pitt Rivers part where we had a look at a photographic exhibition of how a museum in Japan salvaged lots of museum pieces which were affected by the 2011 Tsunami. They really had their jobs cut out restoring photos and negatives which were water damaged.

In the Pitt Rivers main section with all its glass cabinets full of stuff, and the curators with wind up torches always ready to show you where the witch in a bottle is displayed, I got into a conversation with one regarding photography in such a dark place. I promised to post the photos on his Flickr group.

It was about 14:30 by the time we had finished, and we had had enough of walking around so we headed back to the bus stop via Blackwells the best book shop in Oxford followed by the covered market, and went home. All in all a lovely day out and the weather made all the difference.

Walk round Cholesbury (2 Hours)

Fairly picnic
Fairly picnic

We met up with A&C for a walk round Cholesbury and were in the woods by 11:15. The weather was sunny but there was still a little nip in the air. We went past the church where some distant relative from the 1800’s have a grave, then kept to the woods and headed towards Hastoe.

At one point we came a cross a wooded area where someone had put on display lads of small fairies, and wind chimes. There was no explanation for them being there, I suggested that someone could not think what to do with a large collection they had so let them free in the woods. They were all nailed in place so they were hardly free to roam.

As we got close to Hastoe it was time to take a right and then start heading back to wards where we started. There was quite a lot of bird activity going on this time of year is a good time because the birds are becoming territorial and you can still see into the trees because the leaves are not out yet. The high lights were three buzzards soaring on the thermals and two woodpeckers doing large circuits of and area as if they were courting or chasing each other.

As we got back towards the car we came across two bumblebees one dead and the other one crawling. I took a couple of pictures and a video. Looking at the video later the bee had quite a few ticks on it. I don’t think they were the cause of death as some internet research suggested that they were harmless.

Once back at the car we parked up at the Half Moon for some lunch in the pub garden where it was only just warm enough to be comfortable. The food was up to the usual good standard. All in all a great walk and meal in good company. We were back in time to watch the boat race and Oxford won by a country mile.