Rail & River Walking: Cholsey to Goring via Wallingford

The weekend after my last walk in South Oxfordshire I went up there again, this time jumping off the train at Cholsey. After a bit of confusion trying to locate the path out of the village (and avoiding getting in the way of the police officers dealing with a rather dramatic-looking car crash) I managed to locate the walk along the heritage line to Wallingford. The path ran across fields right alongside the railway, as the picture above shows! Despite being mostly farmland, it was also quite a beautiful walk in its own way – the hedgerows and margins of the fields were a blaze of colours, and with packs of red kites flying above there was plenty to look at on the walk.

Following the path as it veered away from the railway, I arrived into Wallingford and crossed the Thames (picture). It was a scorching hot afternoon by this point, and the river meadows were practically like resort beaches with the number of people crowded on them. I also discovered in passing that Wallingford apparently has an Agatha Christie connection – she had a home in Winterbrook, a village absorbed by the town, and died there in 1976.


There was no time to stop however if I was going to be able to make my train back from Goring, so I pressed on. Walking first along the meadows, the path then turned inland and led towards the village of Mongewell, where it joined on to the Ridgeway running south along the river. There was very little shelter from this point onwards, and with the sun proving so strong I had to slow down my pace. By the time I’d made it through North and South Stoke, I was convinced I was going to miss my train. Fortunately however, some welcome shade from the trees on the final stretch of the route allowed me to pick up pace again, and I managed to catch the train to Reading with just 4 minutes to spare. Like last time, the walk was ten miles in all – though it certainly felt longer in the summer sun!



Fields of Wheat: Walking west of Streatley

Having spent much of the election traipsing around rural Oxfordshire, I decided to spend the Sunday afterwards exploring the countryside for at a more pleasant pace! Wanting to make use of a new OS map I’d recently bought, I plotted out a circle route starting and ending in Streatley (although technically I suppose it ended in a pub in Goring!).

Starting at the bridge across the river, I followed the Thames Path north towards Moulsford. It was a quiet route and absolutely gorgeous in the June sunshine – although the presence of a black narrowboat decorated in the colours of Alestorm was somewhat disconcerting! At Moulsford itself I managed to get slightly lost amidst a few overgrown paths and some playing fields, but eventually I found myself on the westward path out towards Unhill.

I hadn’t actually decided on a firm route by the time I got to the junction of paths at Starveall Farm, but with an eye to time I opted to cut through the valley called Unhill Bottom. It was a lovely route – the valley was farmed with fields of still-green wheat, but the hills on either side were wooded, channelling the wind right along the valley floor and making the crops ripple like waves. It was so refreshing, and the perfect antidote to several weeks staring at constant breaking news.

Climbing the hills at the end of the valley, I caught a good view of Didcot with its famous power stations, before turning south and cutting through Unhill Wood. Finally, I reached the ancient Roman road of the Ridegway, and followed that back into Streatley. All in all I think it came to about ten miles in total – not bad for a short summer walk!