Abingdon to Wallingford - July 1st 2021
This is one of the longer sections at 13 miles, although according to my FitBit I walked 17 miles taking into account all the extra steps getting to the start, from the end etc. Starting from Abingdon Bridge the walk takes in locks at Culham and Clifton and the corresponding cuts. Crossing the attractive Clifton Hampden Bridge, the Thames Path continues alongside the river to Day’s Lock and on to Shillingford where it briefly takes to the roads before rejoining the river at Shillingford Bridge. From here the path carries on to Benson, where it crosses the river at Benson Weir, before the short final push down to Wallingford Bridge.
For this walk I drove from home to Abingdon and parked in the Cattle Market car park. A few minutes short walk and I was at the start at Abingdon Bridge. There had been a clear blue sky when I left home but as the morning progressed it soon clouded over. I didn’t realise at the time but my camera lens had fingerprint smudges on it and many of my photos from this walk made the weather appear more overcast than it actually was.
Less than a mile after the start, I left the path briefly to see the original Culham Bridge from 1416, now a Scheduled Monument. As I rejoined the main path, I noticed a fellow walker who I guessed might also be doing the Thames Path. His face looked familiar and I suspected he was someone who was a member of the Thames Path Walk Facebook group I belong to, especially as I knew this person was planning on walking the whole path in 2021. I asked if his name was Phil and sure enough he confirmed it was. Introductions over, we agreed to walk together – until lunchtime at least. It made a really pleasant change to have company on my walk and we succeeded in putting the world to rights.
At Clifton Hampden, Phil announced he was going to be pausing for lunch at The Barley Mow, just down the road from the bridge. I joined him there for a welcome pitstop and pint. We then wished each other good luck, said our goodbyes and I continued my walk towards Day’s Lock.
Very soon I came across signs diverting the path away from the river due to construction works and advising me that I should not proceed. However, I also saw some other walkers and runners taking no notice of said signs! I weighed things up and decided that I too would ignore the signs. As it turns out this was a good decision since I reached Day’s Lock without having to turn back. I sent Phil a message advising him that he could ignore the diversion. I have since read that the construction works related to the creation of a new wetlands area as part of Earth Trust’s River of Life II project.
Continuing past Day’s Lock, I next had to stop at the Waterfront Café at Benson, as by then it was cake o’clock. I’d never come across raspberry ripple cake but I have to say it was divine. Duly refreshed, I completed the home run into Wallingford. From here, I caught a couple of buses back to my car in Abingdon.
A long but enjoyable day!