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Life Line

Walking: Didcot to Goring

Last Saturday I decided to walk across some humps that I had seen a few times before, but never ascended.

I found myself in a very full train towards Oxford. I was luckily to have gotten a seat, by virtue of walking fast and claiming the first non-reserved seat that I spotted. I didn't ride the train all the way to its destination in Oxford however, and got out at Didcot Parkway.

From here I intended to walk two more SlowWays routes — from Didcot to Wallingford, and then continuing along the Thames to Goring.

Leaving the station I soon found myself through parks in Didcot for a while, before going in the wrong direction at a new housing estate. Unfortunately the maps on my GPS watch had not been updated yet, so it was hard to follow the paths. OpenStreetMap was of course already up-to-date, which helped me find the right direction.

Just after the housing estate I walked past a lovely farm, with the snowdrops out in front of a little lake.

Snowdrops at the Little Lake

Crossing Lady Grove road was a little annoying, and I had to wait a little while before it was safe to cross. I ended up chatting with a lady walking her dog for a bit about what I thought I was going to capture with my camera. I mentioned that I was hoping for some deer, kites, and whatever the Thames would have on display. I hadn't quite realised how many kites there actually would be! And I spotted my first few very soon after, albeit to fast to get a decent photo of, and one in a tree, which was too far to get a decent photo of.

This part of the walk was through some farmland, which was easy to walk with not too much mud, and more importantly, no cows. There was a tiny bit of road walking, before I got onto Earth Trust land which maintains the land around the Wittenham Clumps, which started to loom larger and larger in the distance.

Round Hill and Castle Hill — The Wittenham Clumps.

I had seen the clumps before while walking the Thames Path, and they're also easily spotted from the train going towards Didcot from London.

It was a pretty steep climb up, and I deliberately took the "long way" around the top of the slightly taller Castle Hill to get a better look at the Thames Valley, and the other slightly smaller clump which housed an iron age hill fort back in the days where that was popular.

Kite in the Trees

The route did not make an immediate bee line for the Thames, and instead meandered through a wood where I spotted this kite sitting on a branch in the trees. After going around a farm my walk finally got me to the Thames at Shillingford. From here on my plan was to walk the Thames Path all the way to Goring. I did walk this before a few years ago in the middle of summer.

Boats on the Thames

Once I crossed the bridge across the Thames, there were many small birds in the hedge roads chirping happily along. The paths on the Thames Path were all very muddy, which wasn't quite a surprise as it was winter, but I think I would prefer walking it in summer instead.

At Benson the weir was blocked off, which unfortunately meant a diversion away from the Thames Path, first through a little village, then along a busy road for a short stretch, and then along residential roads into Wallington where the first section finished at its historic market square.


From Wallingford onwards, my walk was along the Thames for the rest of its length until Goring. Most of the paths were fairly easy going, but there were muddy sections, and very muddy sections. As I said, I walked this before and I sort of had forgotten that the Thames Path can be quite monotonous, and I think this section is probably the least interesting part.

Cholsey Marsh

Cholsey Marsh made for a nice photo though, and along this section there were quite a few snowdrops out, with the other side of the river sometimes showing large (and expensive) houses. At other sections, the cackle of geese was hard to miss, and quite loud at times. A man fishing didn't pay them too much attention though.

One of my least favourite sections of the Thames Path is the "Moulsford" diversion. It starts just after crossing underneath the Moulsford Railway Bridge, and diverts you away from the Thames around a prep-school, and along the A329 which was too busy to be comfortably walking along. I hope at some point better access can be negotiated here, or perhaps the Thames Path can be relocated to the east side of the river instead.

I was quite pleased once I got to the Thames Path again, although it became even more muddy here, and I was sliding all about.

Colourful Houses and Boats

Closer towards Streatley and Goring more and larger houses appeared on the opposite side of the river. Just before crossing Goring Bridge, there is a little nature reserve which was quite pleasant, whereas the walk into and through town, except for the bridge across the Thames itself, was a bit of a drag.

I made it to the train with a decent amount of minutes to spare to get all packed and relaxed, before taking it home with a transfer at Reading — and having a well deserved pint once I got home.


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