The Thames at Goring
After a very long break, principally the result of injuries to key participants, we resume the Ridgeway, pricking up the route at Mongewell Park near Wallingford. We walk along the parallel to the Thames to soon reach the pretty village of North Stoke. On the right we notice the Arts and Crafts style Village Hall, with delightful lettering over the door.
A little further we bear right past the church of St Mary, whose chancel dates from the 13th century and nave and tower from the early 14th.
We continued along the same line and then turned right to bring us to the river, wide and fairly featureless at this point. In the trees to the left there was a well preserved concrete pill box from the second world war. We are used to seeing these further south - e.g. on the Kennet and Avon Canal, but I don't recall seeing one in this area before.
Now we followed the tow path beside the river, under a brick railway bridge by Brunel, until we we had to turn inland to pass through the impressive village of South Stoke. The first main sight being this enormous barn under restoration.
On the right was the well-named Corner House. Pevsner confirms our assessment of a Georgian House being added on to a much earlier one.
On the left is the 13th century church of St Andrew, much restored in the mid 19th century.
Gradually the path draws closer to the river until eventually you are walking quite close beside it. A flock of Brent Geese could be seen, curiously static in the water, with the North Berkshire Downs behind.
Soon we were in Goring, where Ange lived as a child, ...
... where we noted a surprising advert for Tango lessons and admired the 12th century tower of St Thomas of Canterbury church.
It remained only to cross the river (see photo at the head of this post) and adjourn to the Bull pub for lunch. It was that very day under new management and all was chaos in the kitchen.
Conditions: grey, cool.
Distance: 5.8 miles. Distance now covered 44.1 out of 86.8 miles, so we are over half-way. We have vowed to increase our pace and get it finished with dispatch.
Map: Explorer 170 (Abingdon, Wantage and Vale of White Horse)
Rating: three and a half stars. Varied and enjoyable.