One of the benefits of walking down the Thames is that it is hard to get lost. Just make sure you keep the water in sight. The most challenging part of our trail so far was finding our way to the river in Abingdon and ensuring we set off the right way down it. There is a long stay car park off the A415 in Abingdon very close to the river so that’s probably the best place to start from.
We decided to start this stretch in Abingdon so we could get to Dorchester-on-Thames, stay overnight and then attempt a bit more the next day. After a family ‘discussion’ about the right direction to go, we set off. We used the A to Z Adventure series to get a sense of where the next staging post would be along the river which was useful for little people who need a sense of how far it is. Adults can do some author spotting along the Thames Path as many famous names have lived along it. On this stretch, we discovered that George Orwell is buried at Sutton Courtenay and the house of John Masefield, author of the Box of Delights is visible across the river at Burcot.
We planned to do some geocaching but this stretch was full of other excitements including some lovely birdlife – we enjoyed spotting a kingfisher, goldfinch and a lot of herons. The architecture along the stretch is really striking – Clifton Hampden bridge is particularly lovely. It’s fun to look at the different houses of the lock master and consider which lock we’d most like to keep. The locks also serve a secondary purpose as obvious staging posts along the way.
For the first stretch of the walk, Didcot Power Station was often in view. For the last stretch, Wittenham Clumps loomed ahead of us. After Day’s Lock (where we did find a geocache), it was a ten minute stomp past the Dyke Hills, the original defences of the town before we reached Dorchester itself. Because this was a mini break as a family, we stayed overnight at the White Hart Hotel before setting off on a second stretch the next day towards Wallingford. More on that next time. This stretch was roughly nine miles which took us around five hours. That’s probably our limit for the time being of what we’d attempt in a day.
This guest blog has been written by Lizzy Nesbitt, Principal of Emmanuel Christian School and Mum of two. If you’re interested in walking the Thames Path, you should also have a look at her first blog post which covers Oxford to Godstow.
If you’re looking for more family walks, the Didcot to Upton Art Trail is a good one and also suitable for a bike ride.