1 May 2017 by Hazel
Bablock Hythe to Sandford on Thames (home) with Linden and Dawn
Saturday April 29th, 2017.
Bablock Hythe might not be the most logical place to start, however, here I was taking full advantage of circumstance again. Linden needed to drop off her youngest at Bablock Hythe, the distance along the Thames Path home was achievable and it was fab practice for our Snowdon challenge. Combine this with my desire to walk the Path before the end of August and it all fell into place.
We started around 10:30 and after a lovely walk through fields of sheep with their beautiful little lambs we reached Eynsham lock. I was incredibly grateful for the clean and well stocked toilet. Whilst Linden called to catch up with her partner, Bernie who was in Australia, I got rid of a layer of clothing and Dawn grabbed a quick snack.
The route changed after the lock and we walked through some lovely woody areas. Charming little British Bluebells, a rare sighting of a small water vole, some very chatty cuckoos and a very friendly little reed warbler spurred us on towards our next destination. By lunchtime we had seen our first goslings and even chatted to the Heron who was perched under the bridge at Botley Road. We reached The Perch, who were in full swing hosting their annual Cider and Beer festival, and strolled straight over to the bar.
Having sampled the drinks and inhaled our burgers we started the 6 miles towards home. This was familiar to me as I had cycled or walked it often and therefore I knew what to expect so for me this was the biggest challenge. Knowing the route and distance was not helpful.
By the time we reached home (Sandford on Thames) I was absolutely desperate for the facilities again. I could not get through the door fast enough. The warmth hit me like a blanket and after a visit to the loo I poured myself a ice cold gin and tonic, sunk into a hot bath full of soothing bubbles and let my tired feet and legs relax. We had clocked up just under 14 miles and I was boasting over 35,000 steps on my fitbit.
Radcot Bridge to Bablock Hythe with Linden
Sunday April 30th, 2017
After a good nights sleep Linden and I set off in my car to Radcot bridge. Linden’s car was already at Bablock Hythe so we could easily drive to pick up my car once we had completed the walk. I’d plotted our route the night before and estimated it to be around 11 miles. We set off across an open field and realised that we were walking into a head wind.
Today I had decided to plot our walk using “Map my Walk” simply because the app I used the previous day did not allow me to save it at the end of the walk. We got to Radcot lock to the delightful news that our first mile was under our belt and stared in horror at the sign. THIRTEEN miles to Bablock Hythe – I’d got the distance wrong and the wind was really annoying the both of us but there was no stopping us.
This route was different to yesterday. It was more exposed and along it were these bizarre looking structures that looked like bunkers and gates with no fences and no evidence of there ever being a fence. Whilst yesterday was fields and fields of sheep with their lambs, today it was herds of cows. I had to tread carefully as I had chosen to swap my walking boots for trainers. A trick Bernie had told me about, swap shoes and/or socks and then you will put pressure on different points on your feet. It was working but they were certainly not “cow pat” proof. I also had to keep telling myself that if the cows charged I was to run from side to side. Apparently their eyesight is not great and they could not move in a very agile way. We got close but had no reason to run. Phew!
One challenge on this route was that there seemed to be less facilities so by the time we arrived at Tadpole bridge I was in my usual state to desperation. Sadly the pub nearby, The Trout, was not open, however, one of the staff were kind enough to let Linden and I use the facilities. We had to forgo the coffee we were both desperate for. So our stop was brief which meant by the time we got through Chimney Meadows and arrived at Shifford Lock we both needed to sit down for a minute and rest.
We left Shifford lock looking forward to lunch. Once again we were in open fields and the wind was so bad we could barely hear ourselves speak. Dodging the cows and stopping to film the lovely little goslings we made our way to Newbridge arriving just before 14:00 which is when most pubs stop serving. We dashed through the door of The Maybush and nearly cried when a young lad said they were fully booked. They must have seen our despair because they found us a lovely table and we enjoyed a traditional roast dinner with our much needed drinks. For me a white wine spritzer and Linden had the cider we had discovered yesterday. We were both hungry, tired and eager to get to the car. Only 3.5 miles to go.
Fed, watered and “toileted” we headed off towards Bablock Hythe. Despite the fact that Linden’s hip was troubling her we were making good progress and very, very grateful that this stretch was relatively short. The clouds were looking menacing and it was not very warm. At some point the white wine spritzers I’d inhaled made their way to my bladder. The one thing I noticed more than anything is just how annoying it can be when you need to facilities and they are simply not around and I don’t do bushes! So despite poor Linden’s knee I pick up the pace. Passing by yet another gate in the middle of nowhere, beautiful houses and a windmill we made our way towards the pub which was where the car was parked. My little lady on map my walk had announced the 13th miles so I knew we were close. I cannot tell you how relieved I was to emerge from the hedge and see the pub in front of us. I almost ran the last few yards. We had done it and I had not resorted to the bushes! Over 70,000 steps and 28 miles in two days. One happy Hazel.