Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Day 15: Newbridge to Kelmscott

Newbridge to Kelmscott

Sue, the owner of the B and B kindly drove me to Newbridge where I was meeting a friend who was going to accompany me today. Our starting point this morning was over the bridge which is narrow and only takes single file traffic but that made it easy to walk across.

It made a change to have company today but I kept having to remind myself to take some photos. It was another warm and sunny day and we met a number of walkers and boaters. One boater was really enjoying the sunshine as he sat naked on his boat. No, I didn't ask for a photo!

It wasn't long before we were beside the Chimney meadows nature reserve. It is one of the largest areas on natural meadowland in England.  The reserve incorporates 14km of hedgerows, 18km of waterways, wet grassland areas, ex arable land being converted into flower meadows, hay meadows, woodland and ponds and so provides numerous different habitats.

We needed to cross the wooden bridge to get to  the Shifford Lock. It was in the village of Shifford that King Alfred held the first recorded parliament in 890.

Crossing over the weir, another bridge takes you over to the lock.

Just next to the lock is a grassy area with a number of fruit trees - apples, plums, cherries all laden with fruit.

Seems only the swans needed to use the lock this morning.
Plaques on the wall showing the levels of flooding in previous years.

This wooden bridge takes you across the old Thames Channel which loops away to Duxford (Duck's ford) which is still a ford.

Once over the bridge the path follows the Shifford Lock cut until it meets back up with the looping channel we just crossed. These cuts were put in to straighten the course of the river and shorten distances.

This pillbox close to the path looks slightly different to the others as the holes around the sides have been bricked up, just allowing a very small slit to look through.

This bridge has the best name on the river -Tadpole bridge. We had to climb the steps taking you up to the road as we needed to cross the river here.
Tadpole Bridge cottage

Just next to the bridge is The Trout inn, another stopping place for walkers. Along with The Swan, The Trout seems to be a very popular name for a pub
Steve getting ready for the next few miles.

Once we had crossed Tadpole bridge  were back by the riverside it was long before we were at Rushey Lock.

Liked the topiary frog in the garden of the stone lock cottage. This used to be a guest house and due to its isolated position attracted celebrities such as Douglas Fairbanks and Errol Flynn.

The path crosses the weir but as there was some construction work happening we had to use this pontoon bridge instead.

Old man Bridge which we didn't need to cross. I wonder how often these remote bridges are used.

As we approached Radcot Lock this boat was just passing through. There was no lock keeper around and so myself and Steve helped the boater to close the gates. This narrowboat was the permanent home for its two owners. It looked very different from the usual narrowboats being completely black and looking very sleek. Its name was Valhalla.

Radcot lock

The Swan public house at Radcot bridge, where I said good bye to my companion for the day. He had to find his way back to Standlake where he left his car and we hoped he might be able to find a bus going in that direction from the village of Clanfield a couple of miles away.
There are two bridges at Radcot. The old bridge is the oldest bridge over the Thames. This is where the river divides between the original old bridge and the navigation bridge. Boats go under the navigation bridge to prevent damaging the old bridge.

This is the navigation bridge which is quite narrow for the boats to negotiate. It is also on a slight bend which causes even more problems.

Here where the  the river divides part of it flows under the oldest bridge over the Thames with its 3 arches but I was too far away to get a decent photograph. This bridge dates back to the 12th cent and has survived because  the river traffic was diverted down the other channel.

This gentlemen was catching American crayfish. They are taking over our rivers from our own crayfish. They are good to eat so I was told. He had caught a whole bucket full.

Grafton Lock

The lawns and houses across the river are those in the village of Eaton Hastings.

Leaving the river, the track takes me to Kelmscott Manor, the country home of William Morris. Morris was a designer, craftsman and writer.
The house is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays so I was in luck. The house was built in 1600 for a successful farmer. William Morris bought it in 1871, living there with his wife and the Pre-Raphaelite artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti, until he died in 1896.

The gardens and the river were an inspiration for many of Morris's textile and wallpaper designs.

In the village is the little church of St George.

The remains of a stained glass window showing St George from around 1400.

In the churchyard I found the gravestone of William Morris and his wife Jane.

Also in the village is the 17th cent inn The Plough where I spent the night.


  1. The pillbox with the bricked embrasure is for bats, there are few like that along the Thames.

  2. You are making such good progress. How far yet to go?

  3. What the glorious series of the beautiful pictures! looking delightful and pleasant...

  4. I love the Tadpole Bridge, for its looks and quirky name.

  5. Everything is so old a reeking of history.


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