Monday, 24 March 2014

Wallingford and Brightwell-cum-Sotwell

Wallingford Town Hall

It's the second day of Walk in her shoes and we are on a mission to do at least 10,000 steps/5 miles every day for a week. Today I have come up with a "town and country walk", my new big idea - walk around an interesting town and then walk out to a nearby village and back. My recent Thame and Long Crendon walk was the prototype. The excellent Wallingford website has all the information you could wish for and I have merged an audio guided walk around the historic centre (you can print out the commentary) with a walk to Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.

We parked in the long term car car park and this meant that we joined the town walk near Angier's Almshouses in Reading Road. They date from 1681 and were founded by William Angier, an ironmonger, and his sister Mary. The Gothic windows are a 19th century alteration.

We headed up Lower Wharf, passed the Norman St Leonard's church to walk up the quiet, pleasant Thames St. At the top was St Peter's church, whose wonderful spire we had noticed when we passed near to Wallingford in our most recent leg of the Ridgeway: Swyncombe to Mongewell Park

The medieval church was destroyed in the Civil War and only rebuilt a century later. The wonderful spire was the work of Robert Taylor, who we encountered only yesterday as the architect of Maidenhead bridge.

We headed right from here to see Wallingford Bridge which was rebuilt after the great flood of 1809.

The view up river was very pleasing.

We now followed the High Street, which has some fine Georgian houses, most notably Calleva House, and turned into the narrow St Mary's St to reach the Market Place. This is dominated by the beautiful Town Hall of 1670. It replaced a medieval Guild Hall and is in fact timber-framed, although you would never guess.

I just loved the drinking fountain donated in 1885 by Alderman Hawkins, a draper.

We followed Church St to reach the strangely named Kinecroft, a large grassy area enclosed on two sides by grassy mounds - the town's Saxon ramparts. The name indicates that it was a place fro grazing cattle.

At this point we started our walk to B-cum-S and headed across the Kinecroft and through suburban housing to follow a tarmac path to the ring road and open fields.

We walked across a wide expanse of fields, flat but with hills visible in the distance in two directions. So not a vert distinguished landscape but it was great to be out in the open under a blue sky with fluffy clouds.

After a couple of miles we reached Brightwell-cum-Sotwell, a pretty village with some lovely thatched houses. We followed the main street briefly and then a field edge path which brought us to this especially lovely pair of cottages.

Now it was back across the fields again and through further urban paths to reach Castle St where admired the Old School House and walked down into the town past the cemetery. Walking back from the Market Place to the car park we had a great view of St Mary-le-More just behind the Town Hall.

The church is mainly a Victorian "restoration", but the tower dates from 1653, when it was rebuilt with stones from Wallingford Castle which had been demolished a year earlier. Like others, most recently in our experience, Farnham, the castle had been a Royalist stronghold and was put beyond use by the victorious Parliamentarians.

Conditions: warm and sunny.

Distance: 5 miles.

Map: Explorer 170 (Abingdon, Wantage and Vale of White Horse).

Rating: four star.


Anonymous said...

I write a blog about cast iron drinking fountains and would like permission to use the photo of the drinking fountain in Wallingford. I will, of course, credit and link back to your site. You can view my blog at

PH said...

You are very welcome.