Oxford to Abingdon.
We were on the towpath fairly early on Sunday morning soon passing the classic Christchurch meadows on the opposite bank. Already the river was full of cox-less fours and coxed eights, all being coached from the towpath by kamikaze trainers on bicycles. Each Oxford college has its own boathouse along this stretch. A significant number of runners were also pounding along, presumably college folk.
We also started to come across orange vested walkers staggering past us with glazed eyes fixed on an end in Oxford. These brave people had set out from London yesterday at 8am and had walked day and night to get here 60 odd miles up the Thames. Heartbeat, the British Heart Foundation, will have benefited from their exertions.
Sat by the lock at Sandford we were admiring a canal barge when the guy on board engaged us in conversation – ex-army with post traumatic stress he had been finding life difficult so bought the boat to live on for a life change. He had picked it up in Blackburn and had spent several weeks getting to here on the way to the Kent and Avon. He regaled us with stories of travelling through the locks of the industrial towns and attacks from the local youths who see canal boats as a soft target. Best of luck to him.
We were flagging in the heat when we saw a poster for an art/coffee stop in the modern Radley College boat house. As part of an Oxfordshire art week the upper room had been set up as a gallery and coffee shop run by the lady artists themselves. A perfect place for a break and chat on the balcony looking out over the river.
On the opposite bank was the more romantic boat house of Nuneham House.
There were a lot of expensive riverside properties … … even this is probably out of our price range …As we approached the busy Abingdon Lock more and more Sunday strollers appeared using local paths and riverbank.