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WALKING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GILBERT WHITE Selborne to Oxford
THE SEVENTH DAY 4th May
DORCHESTER-ON-THAMES to ABINGDON
Today’s walk, in lovely sunshine, took us from Dorchester and its extraordinary prehistoric defensive mounds, to Day’s Lock on the Thames. There we left two of our party, who were intending to hitch a lift with David and Roger in their Thames skiff (I hope that is the correct description – I was convinced it was a Venetian barge). As we proceeded up the meadows beside the Thames, they cleared the lock, took on their passengers, and rowed rapidly up to join us on the outskirts of Clifton Hampden.
On the other side of the river were some wonderful houses where, as one of our party remarked, nobody mowed their own lawns – we have seen a few like that on our journey, but they are still a delight to marvel at. Fortunately they weren’t in view when Finn the dog spied some sheep that looked lost on the meadow and needed rounding up (pure instinct, he has never been trained to do it) but he quickly saw the error of his ways and returned to his panic-stricken mistress.
Louisa the Thames skiff being rowed past the houses where no-one mows their own lawns at Burcot near Clifton Hampden, while our party waited for them to catch us up
At Clifton Hampden, in the arch of the wonderful brick bridge, Captain Oates was taken on board the boat, to nurse his blisters for the final assault on Oriel tomorrow.
David, Roger, Giles and Captain Oates in Louisa
Giles remained in the boat – well someone has to steer – but Amanda took to her feet once more. The boat quickly overtook us as we walked the 4 miles to Culham and there we had a wonderful stroke of luck, with the offer of a private garden on the water’s edge in which to eat our lunch, offered by a ‘lady in a canoe’ who recognised the exclusive badge of David’s rowing club. After lunch, luxury of luxuries, I took Giles’ s place for the final run into Abingdon. I am afraid to say that this is where the arrangements broke down, because we never overtook the walkers, despite Captain Oates rowing the whole way, and I have no idea where most of my wonderful walkers went to, or how they got back to their cars in Dorchester! But they all must have, and I apologise for the lapse in the management which has held up so far, more or less, and hope to see them all tomorrow.
Nature Notes: A lapwing sighted over the fields near Culham, the second on this journey. They used to be so plentiful 10 years ago, and now you only seem to see them is solitary ones and twos.