22 Aug 2017 by Hazel
Linden and I are joined by Bernie and Alice as we walk the next stage of the Thames Path – Abingdon through to Wallingford.
As always the first step is to juggle the cars around. Meeting at 10am at our local village hall we drive, in tandem, to Wallingford where I park my car and join the others so we can drive onto the start in Abingdon. Parking up we grab a quick coffee from the local costa and use their toilets as past experience has taught us that toilets are few on this route.
TOP TIP. Always make use of the toilet facilities whenever you can because there are seldom any along the route also make sure you take toilet paper with you.
I was a little nervous given how hard I had found the last leg we did but was determined nonetheless to continue this challenge. Not only that Linden and Bernie wanted to walk today in support of friends who were taking on the mountain challenge in Kenya for Brighter Communities.
CAR PARKING. As always we chose to use two cars, parking one at the end and the other at the start. Wallingford and Abingdon has great car parks at either side and I suspect the charges are equivalent to 4 of us catching public transport.
Our walk was a lot flatter than our friends in Africa and although the sun shone for us we were blessed with a lovely cool breeze as we walked through the fields of golden wheat, lush green tree lined avenues which were a bit slushy underfoot but still amazingly beautiful, a bit of road and on through some very well off villages – I think I picked out a few houses on my list for when I make my millions!
The four of us walking today have very different approaches. I like to take it easy and feel I can do more miles if I break it up along the way, Bernie’s approach is to keep going and forgo breaks, Alice likes to incorporate a wee bit of shopping if she can – we try and keep her on a tight rope otherwise we lose her – and Linden is possibly the most adaptable and genuinely goes with the flow.
I have found an even number of walkers ensures that you are able to flex the pace and still have company. Linden and Bernie were striding out at one point and Alice and I were taking it easy about half a mile back. For me the company is really important otherwise I seem to feel every step and when you are doing over 30,000 that’s a lot!
Alice also injects a massive dollop of humour into these adventures. Her, often unintentional, witty remarks can have the rest of us in stitches. Although I think she found her limit on this walk with regards to distance as she admitted to finding the last 4 miles hard. Mine is around the 15 mile mark although I’m still up for trying a 20 miler I suspect I’d have to find the right partner for that as I’d want to break it up along the way.
The Thames Path is beautiful, the river is always chugging with colourful boats and the scenery varies according to whether you are walking through farmland, wilderness or the villages. Along the way you will always pass a few locks and we stopped at one in order to have our lunch. Some of them have toilets and benches, but not all! We took a gin break in Shillingford hotel (had to be done!) and Alice escaped to grab an ice-cream from the Waterfront Cafe at Benson.
The walk, including our breaks, took about 6 hours and was 14.7 miles in total. We found benches at Days Lock which is where we stopped for lunch and there were toilets at the the start at Costa and along the route at Shillingford hotel and Waterfront cafe and at the pay and display car park near where we parked our car in Wallingford.