Walking the Thames Path National Trail

Sunday, July 31, 2005

Day 2: Castle Eaton to Radcot (13 miles)

By day two we had already lost track of the days of the week - it was hard to believe it was Sunday as we were packing up the tent at 8.30am. I was also thinking that maybe my legs hadn't benefited as much from the walk to and from The Red Lion the previous night as I initially thought.

It didn't take too long to walk off the stiffness, and we were in high spirits as we headed back through Castle Eaton and on to a bridleway towards Upper Inglesham. Indeed, this part of the walk was truly delightful as the wildlife was just beginning to stir. Everything was so, so serene...until we had to walk 1.5 miles along the grass verge at the side of the incredibly busy and frighteningly fast A361 main road! It emerges in the book that although there is a recognised route along the Thames (which is referred to as the Thames Path) there are some areas where the National Trust hasn't yet gained permission from landowners to put the path over there land and therefore follow the river. I suspect that this section is one such "temporary route" designed to bypass whatever farmer's field we're not allowed to walk on.

We were soon able to turn off the main road, though, and get back to the river near Inglesham, the outline of a medieval village still glaringly evident in the fields we crossed.

The day before we set off on the walk, I stupidly gave myself a blister on the ball of my left foot by wearing a pair of old trainers and rubbish socks around town. Despite draining it at least once a day, it was still causing me grief - and thanks to the strange gait I had developed in order to avoid being in too much pain from this blister, about 6 miles into day two I found a lovely new blister forming on my heal - directly opposite the first one!

More needles, lighters and plasters were therefore used on a bench just before Lechlade as we sat and watched the first boats of the river tootling along to this pretty town. I say pretty. We didn't see much of it, save for the riverside pubs and the local Londis where we bought our lunch that day, but it seemed pretty enough.

Lunch itself was eaten on a bench at the first lock on the river - St John's Lock about 1/2 mile outside Lechlade. I have always been fascinated by the simple yet incredibly effective technology in locks, and even after seeing dozens of them down the Thames I'm still in awe at them. The lock keeper at St John's Lock was selling off a few books for charity, but I didn't have the guts to carry the 1975 Dr Who annual all the way back home with me. As if to apologise for its evilness, though, the Thames yielded a further two locks for me to marvel at before we arrived at the beautiful Radcot Bridge where we camped in the garden of the village pub, The Swan Hotel (2 runs).

I was sad to see that Greene King had got its claws into what muct have once been a perfect country pub. Pine floors, terracotta paint and chrome had turned the pub into something out of a horror movie, but at its heart it was still run by people who loved the things a village pub should be: friendly and with good beer and food. The landlady even made us some sandwiches (which were wrapped in tin foil!) for the next day's lunch. You can't beat that.

Our approach to Radcot had given us our first insight into the strange world of fishing. It's a sport I really don't understand, nor do I desire to, but the hundreds of fishermen (and women) along the path had so much equipment it must be one hell of a hobby. I was fortunate, however, in gaining an insight into the life of a hobby fisherman whilst at the bar.
"Hello" (said a man with a strong West Country accent who smelled faintly of

"You drinkin' 'ere?"
I looked at the pint in my hand and slowly nodded.
"Where you stayin'?"
"Oh, we're camping in the field."
"Same 'ere. I've been 'ere a week."
"Oh...really? You fishing?"
"Aye, fishin'."
How did I guess?
"I help out our local butcher and delivered some meat up 'ere and though it would be good for a spot o' fishin'."
"Is it good fishing then?"
"Oh yes, good fishin'"
"Mmm. Erm...Caught anything interesting?"
"Nope. But it's good fishin' 'ere."

This conversation left me even more confused than before about the merits of fishing. If not catching anything is the sign of good fishing, why do they need all the equipment: like rods and hooks and stuff?
posted by Scotty at 10:00 PM

For two weeks from the end of July, Alice and I cast off the constraints of modern living. We packed a tent and some sleeping bags into our packs, filled our water bottles, and buckled our boots ready for a 184-mile walk along the Thames Path National Trail.

Starting at the source of the river near Kemble in Gloucestershire, we followed the river's twists and turns until we reached the Thames Barrier at the river's estuary.

This blog is a record of our walk.

Previous Days
  • Day 1: The Source to Castle Eaton (16.5 miles)
  • Powered by Blogger