Many will remember that last year we walked from Selborne to Oriel College, Oxford at the end of April, and in so doing raised money for the project to rescue the At Risk buildings of our stable yard at Gilbert White’s House in Selborne, to create a new exhibition to Frank Oates, the uncle of Captain Oates, to install new interpretation throughout the museum and to create a new café and shop. This is an ambitious project which will cost about £3m, but I am pleased to say that we have done well with our fundraising and have only a relatively small amount to go. Last year’s walk raised the tremendous sum of £23,000 and it was wonderful to have the support of so many walkers and sponsors.
The dates for the walk are given below, and you will see that this year we are spacing out the days rather more in the hope that more will be able to walk with us.
Friday 22 April – Sunday 24 April Oxford to Goring
Through the colleges in Oxford, and Christchurch meadow, to Folly Bridge. There we join the Thames Path, passing alongside the college boathouses and a number of locks, including the one with the largest fall on the Thames at Sandford. Later, in the countryside we pass the Radley College boathouses and then follow the Thames Path through the countryside to Abingdon. Gilbert White got mud on his buckle shoes here last year!
We follow the river the whole way, past locks and villages, through Culham and Clifton Hampden (where it is possible to break the journey at the bridges over the river for those wanting a shorter walk), until we reach the ancient town of Dorchester and its Abbey. The Dorchester Festival will be on and a number of us will be staying the night at The George. Come and join us!
A flat walk all the way, on the Thames Path to Wallingford and then on the Ridgeway Path to Goring, where the views of the river are wonderful. We cross the river at Benson over the weir, and it is possible to break the walk both here and in Wallingford for those who don’t want to walk the whole way. We pass the ancient church of North Stoke with medieval wall paintings. Flat all the way with some opulent river houses, fascinating wildlife and rowers on the river, with pretty towns and villages.
Friday 29 April – Sunday 1st May Goring to Nuneham Green
Along the Thames Path again from Goring, and uphill (somewhat unexpectedly for a river path) to Whitchurch. We cross the Thames here and walk through Pangbourne, across water meadows and up into the beechwoods, which will be just in leaf. Then a flat track to Theale, crossing the M4 by the footbridge under which you will no doubt have driven many times!
We start our second day with a country route, after having walked through the delights of Theale (1/2 mile), by walking along the Kennet and Avon Canal to Sulhamstead. After this we have more of an up and down day. Lovely houses, a few stiles and pretty villages, with the village of Burghfield Common to be negotiated on the way, before we run down to the pub in Beech Hill, through the high rape fields.
The third day is a mostly flat route through open country, through pretty villages and past lovely churches, beautiful woods and valleys. With the permission of His Grace the Duke of Wellington we walk through the grounds of Stratfield Saye, and then alongside the River Loddon. We hope to cross the A 33 safely before dropping down to Rotherfield and Newnham, past Tylney Hall, ancient home of the Boleyn family.
Saturday 7th May – Sunday 8th May Nuneham Green – Selborne.
A very attractive, mostly reasonably flat route across wide open country, passing through Up Nately and its church and open fields before hitting the woods Shalden where we will park at Shalden Farm for tea.
A beautiful, gently undulating route to Selborne via the outskirts of Alton and Farringdon. We walk past Jane Austen’s House in Chawton, and traverse the beautiful park at Chawton House. After that we go across country past Farringdon church and the higher land between there and Selborne, before dropping down through the lanes to Gilbert White’s House.