Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Thames Path - Wallingford to Shillingford

Date of Walk:  20 July 2013
Approx Distance of Walk: 8 km (There and back)
 Parking/Transport: Public Car Park by Wallingford Bridge  (Grid Ref SU 612896)
Starting Point: Wallingford Bridge
Finishing Point: Shillingford Bridge

Our latest walk on the Thames Path took place last Saturday. Fortunately there was a brief respite from the heatwave we've been experiencing of late, and walking was actually quite pleasant in the cooler, cloudier conditions. You can see from this picture of Wallingford Bridge how brown the grass is in the foreground. This was the starting point of our walk, which was a there-and-back walk. Wallingford is a pretty market town in Oxfordshire, on the edge of the Chiltern Hills.

To start our walk we crossed the bridge over the Thames which was adorned with splendid summer hanging baskets.

Our walk is going to take us upstream.

On the other side of the river we join the Thames Path.

We walk along the river bank with fields on our left and the river on the right.

The vegetation is lush and in full summer flower.

It's unusual to see water lillies growing in the river.

Sometimes the river disappears from sight due to the vegetation, like these giant sized rushes.

After a mile or so we reach Benson Lock.

At this moment the lock is not very busy and it is empty of water.
There is a cooling breeze blowing, as can be seen from the willow tree.

On the way back, the lock was busier. I always think pictures of locks look much better when the lock is full of water.

A typical Thames Conservancy Lock-keeper's house.

Here the Thames Path crosses over the river via a walkway over the weir.

From there the path goes behind some houses that have this pretty waterfront position.

Rejoining the river we pass this busy waterfront cafe. We don't stop as we have brought our own picnic.

There are boats and cabins for hire here.

We leave Benson and walk on through some fields by the river towards Shillingford, and after a suprisingly short time, we can see Shillingford Bridge through the trees.

As we get closer we can see the Shillingford Bridge Hotel. The actual town is a little way off from the river, so we don't go there, as we only planned to walk as far as the bridge.

The path approaching the bridge is delightfully shaded by the weeping willow trees.

This is the view from the bridge looking downstream, back the way we have walked.

Crossing the bridge, we enter the grounds of the hotel, which are right on the waterfront.

There is a notice in the grounds saying that the hotel will charge fifteen pounds to anyone wishing to have a picnic or b-b-q there. We think this is a rather extortionate amount to eat our modest snack. We retreat to a quiet corner away from the hotel and discreetly eat our roll and home-grown cherries whilst watching the river traffic come and go. Fortunately nobody notices us or disturbs us.

We were quite surprised that the sun stayed behind the cloud even as we walked back by the same route. It was refreshing to have a respite from the heat of recent days, and nice to be able to get out on foot once again.

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