Sunday, 12 May 2013

THAMES WALK APRIL - OLD BRIDGES AND NEW BISCUITS


Five weeks on; no longer is there a wind that freezes one’s laces to one’s boots. Today there is a blue sky with occasional greys for the beginning of a twenty-eight mile stretch across a Monday and Tuesday. My back trouble again precludes the full walk. I flit like a gadfly between locks and bridges to share water and Sian’s chocolate confections and white chocolate cookies with Dave and Mike across these next two days.
We start at Lechlade, having dropped one car at our mid-point Newbridge, 16 miles down stream. The boys set off. I make a drawing of St Lawrence Church who’s spire spikes the sky, visible for miles.
Flat broad river.
Along this stretch of the river is a chain of concrete pillboxes erected in 1940 as a final defense to stop invading armies reaching the British Midlands. Known as “Stopline Red,” they were fortunately not needed.

Downstream I meet up with Dave and Mike outside Kelmscott House the former home of William Morris. He would row his family and friends from his house in Hammersmith, a good distance.
Radcot Bridge and we have our lunch at the Swan Hotel. We share egg sandwiches with a flock of greed ducks. Radcot Bridge in golden 12century stone, its gothic arches against a leaden sky.
A cloudy afternoon and we agree to meet at Rushy Lock. I cycle to this point and then, with the boys, turn back and downstream to Tadpole Bridge. Afternoon tea at The Trout Inn
Side Note: Although we got caught eating our biscuits at the bar of the Trout Inn (over our coffee) we are allowed back in at suppertime for an excellent meal (watercress soup and battered haddock for me) punctuated with bar staff banter.
Just before Newbridge the river takes on a secretive air as it runs through the trees in Chimney Meadows to Shifford Weir were once King Alfred established his Court.
Newbridge, and its bridge are only fifty years younger than Radcot. Both were built by monks on the orders of King John in order to improve communications between the wool towns in the south of England, and the Cotswold farms.  Here the Windrush River joins from the north, literally in a rush. In earlier times along this tributary the quarries sent stone to build Oxford Colleges and further downstream to contribute to the fabric of St Paul’s Cathedral.






Quite the most wonderful Church I have been in for sometime