Sunday, July 03, 2016

Up to Dorchester

Before leaving Wallingford Meg and I took a walk around the castle ruins.
Well, not so much ruins, that implies collapsing walls and bat-haunted roofless halls. Apart for two small sections of wall the only evidence of a substantial structure ever being here are the earthworks upon which it was built.

The spire of St. Leonards, the oldest parish church in the town, can be seen in the background.

The castle was built soon after the Norman invasion, to protect the strategically important river crossing.
Built on a Saxon fortification, it withstood several sieges and was improved and developed as the years went by. It was sometimes a Royal residence, at others a Royal prison.
During the Civil War it was of vital importance, on the route between Oxford and London. By the time Reading and Abingdon had fallen to the Parliamentary forces, Wallingford and Oxford were the only Royalist towns in the Thames valley. An unsuccessful attack on the castle took place in 1645, but then, Oxford having surrendered in early 1646, General Sir Thomas Fairfax was able to turn his full attention on the castle. A 16 week siege ensued, at the end of which the defenders were allowed to surrender with honour.
But Cromwell wasn’t satisfied with taking the castle, recognising it as a valuable asset to the Royalists if they were to recapture it. So he ordered it “slighted”, demolished to make it indefensible.

It’s unlikely that it was destroyed to the extent it is today, it’s probable that the remains became a valuable source of building materials for the town…

I wonder how many feet have trodden this pathway around the castle perimeter…20160702_080930


It brings you out on the town side of the bridge, near the Town Arms.20160702_081400

After a visit to Waitrose up on the High Street we were ready to go. The moorings had emptied by this time, several boats leaving just prior to Angie coming round to collect the £5 mooring fee!  Sorry Alf,  couldn’t pass on your regards, I didn’t read your comment till last evening…

Leaving Wallingford

The kites were out, soaring on the brisk breeze.
I never tire of watching these magnificent birds.

It was about a half-hour to Benson Lock, on our own in this one.

Benson Lock on the left


It’s above the lock where the “Le Boat” hire cruisers are based.IMG_0648

Shillingford Bridge, with the large Shillingford Bridge Hotel alongside.IMG_0653

Above the bridge there’s a series of tight, shallow bends, then a pretty but unprepossessing stretch to Day’s Lock.

Passing the confluence of the River Thame.
What’s an S worth? In Scrabble it’s just one point, in this case it’s nearly 100 miles of river, the difference between the Thames and the Thame. There are some that argue that the Thames above here is the Isis. But that would surely imply that the Isis is a tributary, joining the main river here, wouldn’t it?

Days Lock, we shared with a cruiser that had overtaken us some time before. Waste of time rushing, eh, mate!IMG_0657

We moored above the lock, on the meadow overlooked by the WWII bunker.IMG_0658
On the skyline is Wittenham Clumps, the end of the ridge which forms the Sinodun Hills. Behind us is NB Festina Lente, Andy and Sue whom we met in Stone a couple of years ago.

Although the sky was looking threatening we only had a brief shower, then a fine, sunny evening. The breeze increased to a strong wind, though.

The local Greylag geese population came begging…

…but they were disappointed
“Wot, no bread?”

I promised Meg that if it was a fine morning we’d have a walk up the Clumps. It was, so we did.

Wittenham Manor House, with the tower of St. Peters just visible in the trees.

Looking north up the Thames valley

You can just make out our mooring.

The part-demolished Didcot Power Station
Work was suspended following the death of four men when part of the building, left of centre, collapsed unexpectedly. Sadly, three of the bodies have yet to be recovered.

Castle Hill was the site of an Iron Age hill fort, hence the levelled terraces.IMG_0670

Looking back to Round Hill

We’re staying put today, tomorrow we’ll head for Abingdon.

Locks 2, miles 5¼

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