oxford to abingdon


30TH AUGUST 2014

August has been relatively cold and wet but the weather forecast going in to September is much better and today is no exception so I'm expecting the sun to make an appearance and for it to be quite warm today.

The day begins with a train journey from Bristol Parkway to the start of today's walk, Oxford. I walk the short distance from Oxford train station to regain the Thames Path at Osney Bridge. It's a short walk today but I'll crack on anyway and hopefully have a bit of spare time to explore Oxford when I return later on today.

the view from osney bridge

I cross the River Thames over Osney Bridge and head on along the south bank of the river and pass the terraced cottages on East Street.

east street

the punter inn

Here can be found the Punter Inn but it's way too early to be lingering. Instead, I head on, crossing Osney Lock. Himalayan Balsam is invading the river banks here.

I pass an industrial estate, but it's heavily screened by vegetation and walk under a railway bridge. The riverside path curves around Grandpoint Nature Park, created on the site of Oxford's gasworks, and I pass under Gasworks Bridge and then Grandpoint Bridge, both of which are now pedestrian bridges.

My guidebook tells me that I pass an ice rink and then some college residences at Jubilee Terrace, but I don't notice them, before climbing up onto Folly Bridge, a stone bridge carrying the Abingdon road. The bus back from Abingdon will return down this road later on today.

folly bridge

I cross the road at a pedestrian crossing and drop back down on to the river path. I pass Salter's Steamers and Christ Church Meadow, a large area of pasture owned and maintained by Christ Church, over the other side of the river. In the distance I can see the herd of Longhorn cattle grazing on the meadow and I come across some bears enjoying the view.

salter's steamers

bears enjoying the view at christ church meadow

My guidebook promises that from here I can see some of the Oxford skyline, including Merton College and the dome of the Radcliffe Camera. In reality the skyline is a long way off and obscured by trees. There is a row of boathouses over the other side of the river and also the swanky, new-ish University College boathouse.


university college boathouse

The river is suddenly full of activity with rowing boats and narrow boats everywhere and cyclists going up and down the towpath shouting instructions to the rowers.

I pass (my notes say) Long Bridge Nature Park, but could be Longbridges Nature Park, and then Falcon Rowing and Canoeing Club on the opposite bank of the river, which is a hive of activity. 

falcon rowing and canoeing club

I cross two more footbridges and leave Oxford behind me. Over a road bridge I reach Iffley Meadows, which, like North Meadow earlier on the path, is full of snakes head fritillaries in the spring. There's no sign of these flowers now. Next door to the meadow is the Isis Boathouse.

iffley meadows

I come across the Isis Farmhouse which can only be reached by boat, bike or on foot and seems to have no website that I can find. Not only that but they are also closed Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday! Not sure how trade is here but it doesn't seem to make for a very good strategy!! Still, there's plenty of benches outside so business must be good.

isis farmhouse

isis farmhouse opening hours

I reach Iffley Lock which is in full swing and from here my guidebook promises that I can see across to the Norman Iffley Church. I see nothing but trees!

iffley lock

The towpath here is full of flowers even this late in the year so I mount my macro lens onto my camera to capture a few of them.

I continue along the tow path and walk underneath the Oxford ring road bridge which briefly shatters the peace. Some graffiti on the bridge brightens things up and some swallows appear to be nesting under the bridge despite the noise.

A footbridge takes me over Hinksey Stream and immediately I walk under the railway bridge here. I'm now in open meadows owned by the Oxford Preservation Trust, where more fritillaries reside in the spring. I pass some crackling pylons and then a stone telling me when the field was acquired.


oxford preservation trust

After admiring the meadows I head on towards Sandford-on-Thames where I pass the Four Pillars Hotel on the other side of the river. I'll pass the hotel again on the bus trip back to Oxford.

My guidebook tells me that the sound of water should be increasing as I approach Sandford Lasher weir and a memorial column stands on the weir as a reminder that the water is lethal here. Somehow I manage to completely miss the weir! I'll have to revisit some day to try to find it.

The King's Arms can be reached at Sandford Lock by crossing over the lock to the other side of the river and since it's Saturday, there should be a weekly market in the village hall.

the king's arms

sandford lock

radley college boathouse

I briefly visit the pub and then head back over the other side of the river again and walk past the lock and over a bridge to reach peaceful farmland before reaching the boathouses of Radley College. The boathouse is all locked up and deserted except for a man and his friendly alsatian.

I cross the slipway to the boathouse via a footbridge and continue along the Thames. The footpath here is very muddy and I struggle to stay upright. I hate to think what the path is like in the Winter. I slither my way along the path to reach some more boathouses where Nuneham House can be seen nestling over the other side of the river.

I'm now on the final stretch of today's walk heading towards Abingdon where I enjoy more flowers and some canada geese fly over me, honking away.

I continue along the Thames where the river traffic has increased but I can't really see it through the vegetation. I walk through open meadowland and pass some woods and walk under a railway bridge.

woodland path

I continue through scrubland and pass two picnic sites to reach the weir at Swift Ditch. The man with his alsatian passes me on his bike.

I follow an inlet slightly inland from the Thames and then regain the river and cross Abbey Stream via a wooden footbridge to reach Abingdon Weir.

abingdon lock

abingdon weir

I cross the weir and cross the lower lock gates and continue along the towpath with a view of the spire of St Helen's in the distance. I should get a better view of the church on a later walk.

abingdon towpath

I climb the steps on to Abingdon Bridge to reach my destination for the day.

the view from abingdon bridge

the view from abingdon bridge

After a peaceful day, it's rather noisy around here, so I waste no time exploring Abingdon and instead head quickly to the bus stop for the X3 bus back to Oxford.


Flora and fauna encountered on the walk today includes :-

  • ducks
  • moorhens
  • himalayan balsam
  • orange balsam
  • chicory
  • greylag geese
  • swallows
  • hawthorn
  • blackberries
  • water mint
  • a pheasant
  • red admirals
  • speckled wood butterflies
  • canada geese
  • amphibious bistort
  • crab apples
  • meadow's cranes-bill
  • purple loosestrife


The podcast of today's walk is now available.  You can subscribe via the iTunes store or listen using the player below.


It has been a lovely day's walking today and although it hasn't exactly been a scorcher it also hasn't rained for the first time in quite a few days. According to my phone I've walked 10.4 miles today which amounts to 22388 steps. 8 out of 10.

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