Date of Walk: 2 October 2014
Approx Distance of Walk: 8 km (5 miles)
Parking/Transport: Parking at Tadpole Bridge, The Trout Inn.
Walk upstream. Boat trip downstream.
Walk upstream. Boat trip downstream.
Starting Point: Tadpole Bridge.
Finishing Point: Tadpole Bridge.
This walk covers the Thames Path between Tenfoot Bridge (SU 354997) and Radcot Bridge (SU 285995). We start walking about one third of the way along, at Tadpole Bridge, and walk west, upstream to Radcot. There we meet some friends with a boat who take us back past Tadpole Bridge to Tenfoot Bridge, from where we complete the walk back to Tadpole Bridge.
We started the day by parking at the Trout Inn at Tadpole Bridge. We checked with the staff that this was ok, and they insisted that we reserve a table to eat with them after our walk. As this was our plan anyway, we were happy to book a table for us and our friends, but we felt they were a little high-handed about it. It was a week-day and not likely to be very busy, and the car park is huge. Little did we know that our friends who we would meet later had also booked a table for the four of us! Maybe the staff thought they were going to be busy...
From Tadpole Bridge the Thames Path runs along the northern bank and is a narrow tarmaced path as far as Rushey Lock.
The peaceful calm conveyed by this picture...
... beside the lock ...
... is just an illusion. The Guide Book describes how there is an unusual old-fashioned paddle-and-rymer weir by the lock and says that it is a listed structure. I hope someone has told these guys who are busy pile-driving and shattering the peace.
Obviously the old-fashioned weir is not good enough now and is being replaced. (We did see a paddle-and-rymer weir, however, by Northmoor Lock, on a later walk further downstream. The guide book states that it is Northmoor which is due to be replaced, not Rushey, but perhaps our book is wrong.)
The Thames Path crosses the river at the lock and we continue along it...
... following the many meanders until we catch sight of Radcot Lock.
The lock has neatly tended gardens.
Leaving the lock it is a short walk to Radcot Bridge ahead.
It is here that we have arranged to meet our friends.
Here is a long-boat coming under the bridge but it's not them.
Here they are! Manoeuvring skillfully into the riverbank to pick us up.
After a leisurely lunch onboard, we set off downstream again. The sun has come out in contrast to the grey skies of this morning's walk. It is a nice change to be on the river rather than beside it.
We come to Radcot Lock again. Up here all the locks are manually operated. I get a lesson on how to close the gates.
The lock looks even prettier in the afternoon sunshine than under the morning's grey skies.
After the lock I'm even allowed to take the helm.
The river is very quiet and we don't see another boat for most of the afternoon - until I am approaching a tight and narrow bend and suddenly there is another narrowboat coming towards us! Fortunately my friends take control and we just manage to avoid a collision!
We reach Tadpole Bridge by mid-afternoon and decide that it is too early to eat at the Trout Inn, so we travel further downstream until we come to Tenfoot Bridge. It is a small footbridge on the site of a former flash-wier, preserving what would have been a right-of-way at the crossing.
We alight at the bridge and our friends manage to turn the boat in the narrow space available.
They head off back upstream, leaving us to complete another little section of the Thames Path. It will give us a more manageable stretch to do later as a 'there-and-back' walk to fill in the gap.
We cross Tenfoot Bridge and make our way upstream along a grassy path on the northern bank. The walk back in the afternoon sunshine seems to go more quickly than the trip by boat from Tadpole Bridge.
It is a very quiet and bendy stretch, the puffy white clouds reflecting in the calm waters.
When we reach Tadpole Bridge, our friends have found a mooring for the night outside the Trout Inn.
We hop on board to collect our rucksacks which we had left on the boat for the short walk back. Time for a quick photo-call.
After a lovely day walking and boating, we settled down to a very nice meal in the good company of our friends at the Trout Inn. (It was quiet, but the staff didn't seem to mind that we'd double-booked!)