Day 5 on the Thames path today i would be doing from Iffley lock just outside Oxford to Shillingford. I phoned the kingfisher pub the night before to ask if I could park my car in the car park and a very kindly agreed. I got up at about 06:30 and after some breakfast and some driving I arrived at Shillingford in time to get the 08:28 bus to the edge of Oxford near Iffley Lock. The Kingfisher landlord popped out to say hello and even offered me the use of the pub toilets before I set out. Apparently people often park with asking, so he was quite chuffed that I had taken the effort to ask, and I was very grateful.
I started walking at about 0900, it took only 10 minutes to get to Iffley Lock, but not before a visit to Tesco express to grab a Danish. There were lots of activity going on on the Thames as I headed out of Oxford, rowers and joggers mainly. The path was clear but the edges were quite overgrown with spring plants. The weather looking was good with a blue sky and cumulus clouds, albeit a tad hot when the sun was out. The cuckoos were out in force and I heard three before I stopped for a rest at Radley College boat house, where a group of oldish people were launching preparing their wooden Thames rowing boats for a trip along the river.
The path sticks to the right hand side of the river in the direction of flow until a I was just outside Abingdon, where you cross the river. There were quite a few people around I guess because it was a lovely day and it was a bank holiday weekend. In Abingdon I stopped at the Nags head pub where I ordered a veggie burger and chips which went down nicely. The break was perfect timing as I was a third of the way to Shillingford. Whilst eating my burger the landlord asked two youths who worked there to clear the weeds out of the borders, and to be careful with the stinging nettles, one of them explained that she could not because she was slightly allergic to them they give her a rash!
Around Appleford on Thames I got talking to a couple who were walking the Thames path this weekend. They weren’t doing it weekend after weekend like me or all in one go but had spent some time over the years doing stretches. This weekend they would be doing the last 20 miles on the Saturday 10 miles from Abingdon to Shillingford, and then 10 on the Sunday to wherever that is. The path crosses the river at Clifton Hampden, and a bit further on I sat and watched the people in their gardens mowing the lawn on there sit on mowers. Very grand houses with very long lawns leading down to the river’s edge the type of lawn that would need a sit on mower.
A few miles later nearing the end of the day I caught up with the couple I had met earlier. Earlier in the day when we had passed I had promised them a lift to Didcot if we arrived at Shillingford at the same time. They were very grateful for the lift and even sent me an email a few days later. We keep in touch every so often by email.