Thames Path: Shillingford to Abingdon


Mum and I walked the Thames Path from Shillingford to Abingdon, on Easter Saturday.


Shillingford’s a little place with a few fancy old houses and a bus stop, which is where we started.

The Thames Path runs along the main road here, and if you’re walking upstream, the signpost that tells you where to turn off isn’t visible (it’s behind a hedge). So we walked twice as far and then back again! The right answer is to turn off about thirty metres before the old pillbox on the left.

Through bars of that pillbox (presumably intended to stop German invaders taking control of the strategically-vital bus stop).
1/45 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 51°38′6″N 1°8′58″W
The pillbox has four levels of nesting in its window surround.
1/125 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 51°38′6″N 1°8′58″W

Little Wittenham

After walking a little way along the river, we made the detour to Little Wittenham (across the river and halfway up a hill). There isn’t a Big Wittenham... but there is a Long Wittenham. Hmm. Anyway, we looked at the extensive manor house and inside the church, where an incredibly posh woman was arranging the flowers.

Candles in the light. (The highlights are blown. Grr. Photographer fail.)
1/15 at f4.5, 22mm, ISO200 51°38′13″N 1°10′59″W
Church from outside. Odd-shaped tower. And yes, it actually is a church not a synagogue.
1/750 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 51°38′12″N 1°10′59″W

Returning to the river, we crossed the lock and the lock weir to reach a long stretch of pastureland.

Ground by the lock gate.
1/1000 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 51°38′18″N 1°10′45″W
Neat trees on the lock island.
1/750 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 51°38′20″N 1°10′47″W

Clifton Hampden

Finally completing that long stretch (after a break for lunch) we reached Clifton Hampden, another tiny village. It was really hot, so we stopped at the Barley Mow pub for a cold drink. That’s supposedly the pub where Jerome K. Jerome wrote ‘Three men in a boat’ (remarkably, a book I’ve actually read).

We then crossed the river for a look at the place. Mum was counting thatched roofs and this village significantly boosted her score.

Church designed by George Gilbert Scott (not the same one who did the phone box). Apparently he wasn’t big on disabled access.
1/500 at f8, 15mm, ISO200 51°39′20″N 1°12′37″W
1/90 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 51°39′20″N 1°12′37″W
Floor tiles and heating grate.
1/6 at f5.6, 22mm, ISO200 51°39′21″N 1°12′37″W
Pretty bridge.
1/500 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 51°39′16″N 1°12′39″W

One of our guidebooks described the next few miles to Culham Lock as monotonous, but that didn’t seem at all fair. It had a bridge for cows, a weir, a railway bridge, some power lines, some kind of top-secret water installation on the opposite bank, and a rifle range. Not bad for monotony.

Monotonous view, featuring dead tree.
1/500 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 51°38′28″N 1°13′39″W
Monotonous railway bridge underside. Light pattern is a reflection of sun on the water, shadowed through plants.
1/90 at f5.6, 10mm, ISO400 51°38′38″N 1°14′25″W
Monotonous railway bridge side view, including about a million rivets. (We went across this bridge in a train on the way back.)
1/500 at f6.7, 22mm, ISO200 51°38′38″N 1°14′25″W
Monotonous pretty bit. Didcot power station in background.
1/1500 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 51°38′48″N 1°15′0″W
Monotonous secret installation. No explanatory signage, at least from this side.
1/125 at f6.7, 250mm, ISO200 51°38′55″N 1°15′20″W
Monotonous secret installation. Just two of several CCTV cameras; distant chimney behind is Didcot again.
1/250 at f9.5, 250mm, ISO200 51°38′55″N 1°15′21″W
Monotonous rifle range warnings. I think I briefly saw a red flag, but it could have been a kite or something. (I’m not really certain the range is still in active use; we didn’t hear any shots.)
1/180 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 51°39′1″N 1°15′43″W


We passed by Culham, but didn’t investigate it because time was getting on. It does have a railway station, but trains that stop there? Not so much. Anyway, we wanted to go a bit further.

Random footbridge.
1/250 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 51°38′58″N 1°16′24″W


Our walk finished at Abingdon, which is an actual place.

Nice bridge (and ugly boat - bit of a role reversal there). I like all the different arches.
1/350 at f8, 22mm, ISO200 51°40′4″N 1°16′44″W

Having spotted the Nag’s Head pub (in background of picture above) we were going to stop there for another cooling drink. If you believe the history on the side it had been a pub since 16-something, but not any longer; it was boarded up. There are a whole lot of closed pubs around these days. To be fair, we only had to walk about two hundred metres to find an open one...

That was the end of our walk; we got a bus to Oxford (Abingdon used to have a railway station, but not since Beeching) and then train to Reading and Staines. It was a nice walk but we were both tired, probably because the day was so hot!

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.