Notice that since leaving David’s there have been no photos…However they would have been of; a tiny stream, a dry stream bed, a bit of a creek, a bigger creek, a few long boats, some trees and some large cows plus a few raggedy sheep.
We have spent the last three days in the internet equivalent of Pahoia Rd prior to installing wireless. Absolutely no coverage from Crickdale to Oxford. I am sure some have it but the pubs certainly don’t. Actually the area between Crickdale and just out of Oxford is very sparsely populated and any thoughts we had of having lovely pub lunches were quickly dashed- no pubs. Only large, by that read 40 plus acre paddocks which went on and on. Sometimes we were beside the river sometimes miles away.
I sense there has been a lot of political argy bargy about where the path – yes they call it the Thames Path not walk as we have been doing,will actually go. For the first two days we only saw the river – what there was of it intermittently , we were diverted around the edge of endless paddocks, some of barley, some of wheat and the odd really attractive designated” ancient meadow”.
Then suddenly just out of Lechlade where the river actually became something of a river we were kept right beside it courtesy of an electric fence stopping us going anywhere else. You could just hear the farmers saying ” they want to walk the river then they can but nowhere else”. So for about 4 miles we walked every curve and bend until we ducked out from behind the wire and just crossed fields.
The weather until yesterday was pretty cool but no more rain since the first day. Yesterday was a scorcher, we both have burnt legs and arms….
On day 2 just out of Cricklade we were lucky enough to see 2 foxes and a badger. Foxes have longer legs than I thought and badgers are bigger and pdq. We also saw a couple of buzzards but not much else in the way of exotic bird life. The birds sing a lot though, happy in the hederows that are left.
We were shocked to find the sheep and cows can get down to the banks and make a real mess of it, we mentioned it to a local who thought we were quite bonkers to be worrying about it…
Stayed at Kelmscott in a lovely pub on the night of day 3, 4 poster bed and all! Just down the road is Kelmscott manor where William Morris lived, full of fabulous arts and crafts goodieshe was the founder of the Arts and crafts movement, plus the manor has the most expensive gift shop in the world.Ii bought two book marks- paper. However it was a real highlight and wonderful to see the start of all those fabrics which we seem to enjoy in NZ as well.
,The path seems to be surrounded in places by stinging nettles, which deliver a healthy belt on the skin and need to be rubbed with dock leaf to alleviate it. Some parts of the path have been weed eated but other parts are very long and the poles are used to clear a nettle free way.
The signage in the main is good but we left before another couple yesterday and they were discovered by us happily eating lunch, we went wrong somewhere. Had to do a huge diversion around a sort of camping/caravan estate, a large sign up saying no entrance, can imagine the inhabitants saying they didn’t want any poncey walkers in thier midst. We soundly cursed them every inch of the by now very hot diversion.
A lot of WW2 pillboxes on this section, some have been turned into habitats for bats, signs up outside saying they are not public loos!The occasional fisherman, loads of expensive gear fishing for perch. Apparently some american crayfish have made the Thames home and are good eating.
On the whole at this stage of the path the Thames reminds me a lot of the Methven Irrigation channel (is that still in existence?),muddy and reasonably swift but not that appealing. Think of the money we would have saved just walking beside the irrigation channel.Regardless of that parts have been quite beautiful, like being in a Constable painting. Some of the locks- just started seeing them on Day 3, are very attractive. Nice lockkeepers house, mowed lawns and lovely flower gardens. plus they have seats- a dire shortage of somehwere to sit all along the early parts of the walk. Two lovely seats near the brginning then nothing until day 4. We had our snack lunches leaning against bridges rather than sit on wet ground- remember what your mother said, wet ground gives you piles!!!!
Walking across paddocks is quite hard on the feet but hopefully we are now past the paddock stage. the rural stuff is more interesting to me than Terry, I actually like seeing different breeds of sheep and the huge cows and the different crops but t could live without it!
We were very hot and bothered arriving in Oxford last night, typical England, 16C one day and 30c next, and were really glad to find our small hotel which is just across Broad St from Balliol College. Sorry, no, we are not staying at the Randolph, but not far from it. Lovely being in the centre of town. We are off to see Christ Church College of CS lewis fame and T wants to go to Balliol.
Very energetic feel to Oxford because of all the young people, most of whom yesterday in the heat, seemed to be displaying large portions of flesh along the river bank just outside the town,some were even swimming – ugh in that water….
Day off today, we are in reasonable shape for having completed over 90 k’s in 4 days. No blisters just a bit of sunburn.