We dug ourselves out of the undergrowth this morning at just before 10 o’clock, heading off in hazy sunshine towards Benson Lock, around a mile away.
The lock was on DIY, but a boat was just going in as we arrived, and there was another above waiting to come down, so someone else was pushing the buttons today.
As we came up a chap on a bench introduced himself, saying that he reads this blog, among others. So, thanks, Glen.
Leaving Benson the river takes us west for a bit before executing a series of bends at Shillingford.
The Shillingford Bridge Hotel was busy, all the moorings outside taken up.
After the bridge the river does a sharp right turn, with shallows ahead to the left and a large riverside property on the right.
These tend to catch the attention, what I hadn’t spotted before is the hull of a derelict barge in the undergrowth just on the inside of the bend.
Another sharp right turn below Whittenham Clumps is a little, shall we say, discreet!
Turning right here somewhere…
If you look closely, very closely, you can just make out the channel marker to the right of the central tree.
Got the right one, heading for Day's Lock.
Up the lock, this time with the assistance of the lock-keeper, and we were able to moor on the meadow above, next to Chris and Lesley on NB Rosie II. We met them yesterday while I was acting as lockie at Cleeve. Although we’re all sure with come across each other before, just can’t remember when.
The Braunston Mob passed this afternoon, I spotted Jola No6 and Daphne on NB Charlotte, but I must have missed NB Huffler, I was cleaning the bathroom. You’re going a little faster than us, so I guess that’s the closest we’ll get this time. Have a good trip up to Lechlade, guys.
In the fields over towards Dorchester are the remains of a late Iron Age settlement, known as Dyke Hills. The only evidence on the ground is a series of parallel ridges and ditches, running east-west.
Dyke Hills earthworks
Later, Anglo-Saxon, remains have also been discovered in the area. Protected on three sides by the rivers Thame and Thames, this area of land was recognised as being easy to defend, hence the settlements.
The Romans agreed with the earlier inhabitants, establishing the village of Dorchester on Thames (Roman Dorcic), not to be confused with the other Roman Dorchester in Dorset.
Across the Thames, on the high ground of the Sinodun Hills, sits another Iron Age site, this one a hill fort and camp.
The popular Channel 4 archaeological show Time Team has been here twice, once in 1992 to film a pilot, where they investigated an area nearer the village and the cathedral built by St Birinius around 640AD, and again to dig the hill fort in 2004.
Considerably more recent, a WWII anti-tank bunker looks out over the meadow and river alongside the moorings.
This is a Type 28a, designed to house a 6 pounder anti-tank gun. Smaller embrasures to the sides and rear were for infantry rifles. 3½ feet thick walls would have given protection from most light artillery.
Locks 2, miles 5