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Goring - DorchesterSee the full map here WALKING IN THE FOOTSTEPS OF GILBERT WHITE Selborne to OxfordTHE SIXTH DAY 3rd MAY


Although billed as 12 miles, I am told that today’s walk was actually nearer 13 (there is a reason for that, see below), so apologise for the deception, but we all arrived in Dorchester in good shape and are looking forward to the lesser distance of 9 miles tomorrow, to Abingdon.

Today I handed over the leadershp of the walk to back-marker Fleur, and wouldn’t you know it, no sooner had she and Selina set off than they missed a turning! Later on in Shillingford we found ourselves walking up somebody’s drive and the excuse then was that more houses had been built since the recce (admittedly nearly a year ago) – I ask you! However, they did an excellent job for the rest of the rather lengthy distance, and it was very nice at the back for me. We all had a good time, walking beside the Thames for most of the day and watching the sun reflecting off the ripples which heralded the thunder and lightning storm that engulfed us at Wallingford.

Now, I want you to acknowledge that today was a miracle of planning! We walked up the river on the Ridgeway Path, stopping at the delightful North Stoke church to admire the medieval wall paintings and also the medieval roof, unrepaired as far as one could see by subsequent generations to any major degree. We arrived in Wallingford on the east bank of the river, and thankfully sat down in the wonderful sunshine for lunch.


And here we are, backs to the wall of the superb Wallingford –Crowmarsh Gifford bridge, sunning ourselves and eating a well-deserved lunch. What could be better? But what is this on the horizon? See below:



And what was the result for the doughty walkers?

Immediate shelter under the arches of the bridge, snug and dry until the storm, complete with thunder and lightning, has passed. So how was that for timing?wallingford4


Shortly after this we crossed the amazing weir at Benson which was closed when Fleur and I did the recce because of the floods in 2014 – but we crossed it then anyway.

More rain descended at Shillingford (home of the extra houses see above, and also the longest wisteria in the country, in full bloom, seriously spectacular) and more shelter, but it was quickly past, and thankfully there was no sign of the flood levels even after the rain, that they encountered in 1809, testified to by plaques on the wall. We then walked on in the sunshine through the dandelion meadows and the post-rain mud of the Thames bankside, to Dorchester.


Nature Notes: More red kites swooping low over the fields and skylarks in abundance overhead. And a kingfisher spotted at lunch time at Wallingford – not by me alas, but how wonderful to know they are there.



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