Thames Path: Cholsey to Shillingford


On 3 April 2010, Mum and Dad and I walked another stretch of the Thames Path, continuing from Cholsey to Shillingford.


Because it was Easter weekend, the preserved railway from Cholsey to Wallingford was running. But we didn't see the steam train at Cholsey. We walked back to Moulsford and along a path to the Thames, by the large Brunel-designed railway bridge.

Stables by the path.
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Between the two parts of the bridge.
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The bridge arches.
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The river

Through the bridge, we kept getting views of the distant Fair Mile Mental Hospital (which is closed, disused, and will probably be knocked down for housing). It doesn't look as creepy as it might, but there was a nice sign for the angling club...

There's extensive open land between the hospital and the river.
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Here's the sign. Good, eh? And they can't even spell hospital.
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At frequent interviews we passed pillboxes - just in case the Germans invaded and decided to come up the Thames.

View into a remarkably clean example.
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After a few miles we reached Wallingford, where we sat in a pretty churchyard (supposedly home to umpteen bird species, although I think we counted two and one of those was pigeons) to eat lunch. After that we went to see the other end of the preserved railway (which stops short of the town centre because the line got built over) and, after hanging around a bit, got to see Ivor the Engine! Yes, really.

Steam engine smoke in front of a TV aerial and some kind of construction equipment.
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Ivor leaving the station with a trainload of passengers bound for Cholsey.
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The SHALL sign.
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A partially-demolished building.
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The town itself was quite nice. Although most of the (supposedly) 14 churches had either disappeared or been converted into something else, we passed by a few of them.

The spire of St. Peter's is rather nice.
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We got our feet muddy again along a mile or so of towpath until we reached Benson Lock. The lock's okay, but the Thames Path crosses the river atop a very long weir, which was fun.

Willow tree at the lock island (and Dad).
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One of many weir gates. (The weir turns a corner on the left of this photo.)
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Benson church in the rain. Note multiple redundancy in weathervane provision, just in case one of them crashes. Or two do. Or three.
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From Benson we walked past a riverside café (without going in) and a boatyard and a caravan park, then along fields until we reached Shillingford Bridge. We left the river and headed into Shillingford, which isn't really a place so much as a crossroads. It's rather desolate. However, it has a regular bus service which took us quite efficiently back to Reading.

Special bonus picture of Reading bus station. 'Successfully developing / Unseen / Havoc'.
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We got a train home, so that's it!

All images © Samuel Marshall. All rights reserved.