“Abbey to Abbey” Abingdon to Dorchester
After breakfast we make a short coach journey to the lovely town of Abingdon. A town for over 6,000 years, this was once the county town of Berkshire. We start our walk next to the former County Hall and pass the impressive gateway to its former abbey, once one of the richest in the country. We cross the river Thames and start to follow its path, soon discovering the junction with the former Wilts and Berks Canal and the grade 2 listed Old Culham Bridge.
We follow the old course of the river into Sutton Courtenay, a former royal manor. In the churchyard we will discover the burial sites of a former Prime Minister and a well-known author.
We rejoin the Thames Path and follow it past a lock to Clifton Hampden Bridge, and have a late lunch in the adjacent pub, mentioned in Jerome K Jerome’s “Three Men in a Boat”.
Streatley to Goring Figure-of-Eight
After a short coach transfer we start our half day walk in the delightful small riverside village of Streatley, a twin with Goring on the opposite bank. Our route ascends quite steeply to Lardon Chase above the village, where we encounter our first magnificent views across the Thames, as it winds its way through Goring Gap, where it forced its way through hills 10,000 years ago during the last ice age.
We do a loop through beech tree woodland and chalk downland. The woodland canopy provides dappled shade if sunny and a vast umbrella if wet. We will almost certainly hear, if not see, a variety of wildlife including the magnificent birds of prey, red kites, which were re-introduced to the area back in the 1990’s.
Our route drops down to the river, which we cross on a causeway bridge next to one of the most picturesque Thames Locks. This is also a path crossroads, where the Thames Path meets the Ridgeway Path.