Living in Oxfordshire we have the Thames right on our doorstep, so in training for our main hiking goals we’ve completed a couple of walks that take in sections of the Thame Path. One thing about walking along a river, it is flat! The views might not be as spectacular as being high up in the mountains, but there is a certain peace and calmness to be found in being by the water.
Saturday 30th April
Our walk today started at Culham Lock, close to the village of Sutton Courtenay and with a parking area right next to the river. We took the Thames Path out to the village of Clifton Hampden enjoying views towards Appleford, and with Didcot Power Station ever present. From here we took the footpath around the back of Culham Science Park before heading over the railway and past the motocross track before reaching the Thames again, on the other side to the Thames Path and heading towards Abingdon. This is our local town, and it is interesting to see it from a different viewpoint as I rarely walk along the river here, I have to say it looks far more inviting when you are not trying to reach it via road. Heading past Abingdon Lock we rejoined the Thames Path through the fields back to Culham. An easy 10.5 mile walk on flat land with the sun shining.
Friday 6th May
As it was my day off, I decided to do another walk along the Thames Path, this time starting at Wolvercote. I parked up at the north end of Port Meadow where there is a large free car park, and walked a short distance along the road to the Trout Inn where you can join the Thames Path. Just after you join the path there is an old nunnery, now derelict. Continuing on past the lock and a field of cows, many enjoying a dip in the river to cool down from the morning sunshine whilst others insisted on blocking the path right next to the gate. Glimpses through the trees of the spires of Oxford ahead, and of people enjoying a walk on Port Meadow. It is a very pleasant and quiet walk, in fact it is amaaing the solitude that can be found somewhere so close to the hustle and bustle of Oxford City. Eventually I reached, Fiddlers Island before continuing on to the Osney Bridge. Here I left the Thames and joined the Botley Road busy with pedestrians, cyclists and cars, past the train station and onto George Street, already getting annoyed with people dawdling I was glad to turn off at the bridge and join the Towpath alongside the Oxford Canal. No navigation required, just a straight walk alongside the canal and back to Wolvercote. Enjoying the many different narrowboats parked up on the canal, many here are residential moorings, electric hook up in place and even with there own postboxes (I’d never considered how people living on houseboats receive mail). Walking on with Jericho on the right and the many houses situated off the Woodcote Road, I love peering into another world, these houses must be ridiculously expensive with there gardens leading onto the canal and boat moorings at the end, there are some truly beautiful gardens here. But this is also contrasted by those that have had less attention, as well as the many boats that appear to have fallen into disrepair, I wonder what happens to these abandoned vessels, it surprises me how many there seem to be. Eventually I reached the bridge for Wolvercote and rejoined the road back to the car park, enjoying a quick snack in the picnic area surrounded by geese and ducks before heading home.
This walk was about 6 miles and could easily be started in Oxford for a couple of hours escape from the city.