Tuesday 23 April 2024

Day 1: Shillingford to Goring

Five of us started the 60 mile walk from South Oxfordshire to Avebury in Wiltshire. Tina will be joining us tonight after our first day of walking. We will be following the Ridgeway trail, one of the oldest roads in the country.

We are not doing the whole trail which is 87 miles as we decided this year to limit our daily mileage and enjoy the walk rather than test our endurance.

This is the Shillingsford Bridge hotel where we stayed the night before we set off. It's a beautiful setting overlooking the River Thames.

Today's walk starts with us crossing over the River Thames and then joining the Thames path south for about 3 miles.

It was in 2013 that I walked the 182 miles of the Thames path so I remembered this section quite well as it was one of the most picturesque sections of the path.

The path was much drier than I had anticipated which made for much easier walking conditions.

Steve decided it was never too soon to get the shorts on. I don't think any of us agreed.
Being a Sunday there were a few people out walking. It was lovely to see the blossom on the trees and all the wild flowers springing up.
We left the path to walk into the town of Wallingford to buy something for lunch.
There are lots of thatched properties in this part of the country.

I liked the penny farthing bicycle fixed to the wall.

This row of cottages had a blue plaque to commemorate Jethro Tull who lived here from 1706-1710. Tull was the inventor of the horsedrawn seed drill which revolutionised farming in the 18th century. His name was also used by a British rock band in the late 60s.

Wallingford is a lovely town with lots of history. We didn't linger but it was a handy place for making use of the facilities and picking up something for lunch.

The scooter boys were in town with their gleaming machines.

Interesting passageway beneath someone's house.

We easily found our way back to the river and the Thames path. This is Oxford University's Boat House.

It wasn't long before we moved away from the river and finally onto the Ridgeway Trail.
Couldn't believe our luck with the weather as back home in London it was raining.

There was lots of evidence around of the incredible amount of rain we have had these last few months.
The path took us through small hamlets with just a couple of houses to small villages like North Stoke and its beautiful church.

There was only one section of the path which was also a bridle path which was really churned up but we managed to clamber over a fence and cross a field to avoid the worst of the mud.
Then we were back to walking alongside the river again. These two horses were enjoying cooling off.

Enjoyed lunch by the river listening to the Canada Geese making a racket, chasing one another from an island in the river which I assume is where they were nesting.

We then walked beneath the arches of the railway bridge which was built by Brunel for the Great Western railway. It is still in use today carrying numerous trains to and from London.

The Ridgeway was very well signposted and every no and again there would be a map for us to check on our progress. There were  also information boards about this ancient trail.

The trail took us through some very pretty villages with pristine gardens. It was as we were leaving one of these villages we got chatting to a young girl who was selling cakes that she had made. She was trying to raise money for a trip to Borneo next year with her school and they are encouraged to self finance it. I bought a few cakes for us to share with a cup of tea, once we reached our hotel for the night.  

Another up and then down to the riverside again where are hotel is located.

That's our hotel for the night. 'The Swan' at Streatley.

It is a beautiful hotel with comfortable spacious rooms. Tina, my room mate for the week arrived in time for dinner so we spent the rest of the evening eating, drinking and catching up. 


  1. Looks like a wonderful start to your trip. Regarding shorts, I think that few more ugly items of clothing have ever been designed, but that counts for nothing and if Steve is comfortable in them, that’s all that matters isn’t it? He still looks dorky though!

  2. I am always so impressed with the long lasting contribution to the British landscape that Brunel made. Modest but life-changing.

  3. How wonderful! The scenery looks beautiful. I'd love to do one of these long trails in your country. Someday!

  4. What gorgeous weather you had for the start. And what a good idea to enjoy the walk and not try to rack up the miles. Can't wait for next installment.

  5. The buildings look so gorgeous. The hay bale on the roofs look iconic. The viaduct is very old looking too.

  6. That was a good start to your walk and how good that your weather was fine. It's hard to believe your Thames walk was eleven years ago. I did a double take at the name Jethro Tull.

  7. On the road again !! You were lucky that the weather was nice for a start, looks very nice ! Finally we don't have to go to the end of the world to discover beauties in our own country ! Unfortunately, it still rains here at least once a day and I have difficulties to walk my half hour in the park !

  8. Very nice post. And a very nice part of the world - we are thinking of a walking trip on the South Downs next year. Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

  9. I had not realised you had started the walk. Shillingford is on the Thames path so you had a walk along that before getting to the ridgeway which you must have picked up at Mongewell. The church at North stoke was worth a look for the wall paintings. You passed through Littlestoke which is on the opposite side of the river to where I live.

  10. Lovely photographs, and so fortunate with the weather.

    All the best Jan

  11. You never cease to amaze me with your walks. Great post.


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