Walking the Thames Stage 2 – Oxford to Henley-on-Thames

These blogs have now been incorporated into a website of the whole walk at https://petergates3.com/walking-the-thames/

I started walking the Thames Path on Monday 16th September 2019 (See here) and after 53 miles, I got to Oxford on Friday 29th September 2019 via Cricklade, Lechlade and New Bridge. The Coronavirus pandemic halted any further attempt from March 2020 until August 2020, when hotels had reopened.

This second stretch of the path would take me the 50 miles from Oxford (see here) to Henley-on-Thames via Abingdon, Wallingford, Pangbourne.

I journeyed up from Nottingham on Monday 10th August 2020 and stayed at The Head of the River Hotel on Folly Bridge. The weather has turned into a seasonal heatwave with temperatures over 30° on most days. The only rain expected coming as a result of the heat. The journey was rather surreal with largely empty trains – with at most 15-20% capacity, arriving at the Head of the River at 2:15.

This was the first place I had a room that provided me with a view of the river!

When I did the first section, I stopped at Olney Bridge, by the railway station, so I had to get back upstream for a mile to complete that stretch. Unlike most of the Source-Oxford section, on this stretch people were never far away, with first East Street which consists of a row of beautiful small cottages, and a pub, the Punter Inn.

Further on the path passes girder bridges, Osney Lock, the ice rink, a college residence (“alcohol free zone“?!), the mainline railway bridge built in 1850. Just by this bridge is a monument to the drowning of 21 year old Edgar Wilson, who in 1898 jumped in to save the lives of two young boys in difficulties, but lost his own in the process.

Housing is never far from view, with blocks of apartment as well as cottages as the path approaches Folly Bridge.

This is clearly a more affluent stretch of the river so far, perhaps illustrated by the castellated house on the southern end of the bridge next to the Folly restaurant. This now has acquired the title from the original folly the bridge was named after – a house in the form of an archway used as an observatory by 13th century friar Roger Bacon. It was pulled down in 1779.

After a very short trip to the local Tesco Express to get rtomorrows lunch, it was time for bed….

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