Thursday, August 02, 2012

Rendezvous at Day’s Lock

We left Wallingford at around 10:15 this morning. We weren’t the first by a considerable margin; the moorings here are charged for and the warden comes around about 8 AM. At least three boats had moved off before then….

Benson Lock is around a mile from Wallingford, and we arrived as a boat was just dropping down.

Benson Lock and the weir on the right.SAM_1950 Benson Lock

The flow downstream was stronger this morning, the weirs must have been opened a little more in readiness for the heavy showers that are forecast.

We were joined in the lock by a cruiser, who left us behind on stretch to Shillingford.

Before Shillingford Bridge, on the south bank, are stone wharfs and landings, associated with Rush Court.

Rush Court landingSAM_1952 Rush Court
Rush Court itself is a Queen Anne style house, now a residential care home for the elderly.

Shillingford Bridge is a relative newcomer to the river, built in 1827. But records suggest there has been a crossing here since the 14thC.

Shillingford BridgeSAM_1955 Shillingford Br

Just around the corner beyond the bridge is the spot we moored on the way downstream. The sharp bend with shallows on the inside here caught two boats unawares in the short time we were here. It looks like the EA have had a look and done some work here since, the original marker buoy has been moved to nearer midstream, and another has been placed just a little downstream. The new position makes it easier for boats to pass on the outside, rather than cut the corner and risk going aground.

Two little boys buoys at Shillingford.SAM_1959 Shillingford

Although the day started bright, grey clouds rolled in and it started to rain as we passed the confluence of the River Thame.

Bridge over the River ThameSAM_1963 R Thame
The Thame runs for about 40 miles from it’s source on the north slopes of the Chiltern Hills. On the way it passes through the town of the same name and then Dorchester before mingling with the Thames just ¾ mile below Day’s Lock.

Day’s Lock, a solo ascent this timeSAM_1964 Day's Lock

Just above the lock is a pleasant meadow where we’d arranged to meet Sue and Vic of NB No Problem and they’d beaten us to it.

NP waiting above Day’sSAM_1965 NP2

Sue and Vic helped us get moored up, then we shared a pot of tea and Mag’s ginger cake while the dogs had a catch up on the bank.

Two Megs and a Penny

Meg and Meg have met before, but Penny the pup is a new arrival for our Meg. She took her boisterous spirits good naturedly, chasing around with her while NP Meg looked on, relieved to be left alone for a while!

After lunch Sue Vic and I took all three pooches for a walk up onto Wittenham Clumps, the distinct rounded hill with a crown of trees that rises above the small village of Little Wittenham.

Although only 400 feet high, there are good views across the Thames Valley.

Looking west to DidcotSAM_1976 West to Didcot
North across Day’s Lock towards OxfordSAM_1979 Looking North
The Anglo-Saxon town of Dorchester is to the right of the picture, the red-tiled roof of the Abbey Church of St Peter and St Paul clearly visible. To the left is the Day’s Lock and weir.

Day’s Lock and Weir from the ClumpsSAM_1982 Day's Lock

Castle Hill is the middle high point on the Sinudon Hills, which end at the slightly lower Brightwell Barrow.

Castle HillSAM_1981 Castle Hill
The area has been settled since the Bronze Age, a hill-fort occupied Castle Hill.

The Sinodun Hills’ name derives from the Celtic Seno-Dunum, Old Fort. The two taller ones are also known, less reverently, as the Berkshire Bubs and Mother Dunch’s Buttocks.
To get across the river and weir stream a narrow bridge is crossed, this is the venue for the World Poohsticks Championship.

“Pooh Sticks” BridgeSAM_1974 Pooh Sticks Br
Never played Poohsticks? shame on you! This is not the original Poohsticks Bridge of which A.A. Milne wrote, that can be found in Ashdown Forest in East Sussex. This site was adopted by the local lock-keeper for a fund-raiser for the RNLI in 1984. It now attracts competitors world-wide, and has raised over £30,000 for the lifeboat charity.

Back down alongside the river, Sue, Vic, Meg and Penny pose in front of one of Mother Dunch’s Buttocks.SAM_1984 Sue, Vic and Clumps

The hills are managed by the Earth Trust, for the benefit of the natural history and for education of visitors. They manage several sites in the area. Two of their guys were resiting a picnic table today, apparently it moves around the area.

SAM_1975 Mobile Bench

The centre panel of the tableSAM_1983 Mobile Bench
Sorry about the toolboxes, they were still putting it together!

Off round to No Problem in a bit for a glass (or two) and a natter.

Oh, and didn’t Team GB do well today!

Locks 2, miles 5

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