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Trail talk: The Thames Path- Tadpole Bridge to Bablock Hythe

Tadpole Bridge to Bablock Hythe, 10 miles

The Lamb had been a treat. The best overnight so far by far and easily amongst the best such place I have ever experienced. The couple running it had had enough however and were giving up the game so as to claw back family time together. Even Emily, our bubbly and helpful young bar tender from last night was siezing the opportunity presented. Soon to be made homeless and jobless, she was also leaving the hospitality sector behind and going to explore the world. It remains to be seen if those taking on the challenge of a high achieving Lamb can also reach the heights demonstrated.

A decent Full English at The Lamb

Our driver Roger arrived bang on time for our short transfer back to Tadpole Bridge, where we had finished our walk yesterday. We were back on trail by ten minutes past nine. The day was dry and already very warm. The sky was clear of cloud and it promised to be a sweaty walk.

I hadn’t twigged that it was Saturday but soon did from the obvious increase in river usage. A handful of kayakers, canoeists and paddle-boarders were now added to the occasional narrow boat and small cruiser. We were passed by the first cyclists we had seen on the towpath so far, plus day walkers and dog walkers. But only until we had walked into the quieter reaches of a river bordered by few habitations.

But more important than them was the wildlife- yet more damselflies and mayflies, cuckoo calling, grey heron, whitethroat, sedge and reed warbler, chiffchaff, wagtails, ducks and geese aplenty, complete with youngsters in tow. Lapwing and curlew called from the fields, terns occasionally dived for fish, Kestrels and Red Kite in the air over the flower meadows. A vole bolted across our feet. Why dead’uns though? A lifeless long tailed field mouse was followed a few steps later by an equally expired common shrew.

The bridge at Newbridge is another that claims to be the oldest crossing of the Thames. Built by monks in 1250, it originally had 51 arches
Scouts were having their first expedition on the water. Zig-zagging from bank to bank, fighting current and a funneled soft wind, they were having a blast and the increasing team work being exhibited in each canoe was apparent

There isn’t much to relate of much of today’s walk. Shaded riverside paths gave way to long exposed meadow paths, coinciding with when the sun was at its hottest. We took breaks when we could find somewhere shaded- usually around the well tended locks, or beneath the convoluted cracked and broken willows. Our favourite halt, for breakfast snaffled satsumas, was on a bend of the river, watching a straggled flotilla of canoeing scouts pass by.

We began seeing salubrious riverside properties. Though this one appeared to have given up on their boathouse
As the day grew hotter, sheep and lambs took to the shade of riverside trees. Some ran on our approach, others barely blinked

Again, there was a shortage of places to stay at the end of our days walk and having reached Bablock Hythe, we waited at the Ferryman Inn for transport to the Churchill Court Hotel, some distance from the trail. Having passed quite a few large and successful riverside pubs that were demonstrating you get out what you put in, the Ferryman shocked in its couldnt care less attitude. 30 plus cars in the carpark and a dozen or so cyclists, plus Thames Path walkers (us), yet there was a grand total of one member of staff. She was overworked, frazzled, surly and resentful, I wasn’t alone in giving up the wait for service.

We had plenty of time in our spacious and comfortable kitchenette to shower, change, cool down and recharge before venturing out for our evening meal. It was a ten minute walk up the road to the 17th century George & Dragon for our evening meal. This is a large pub with a honey coloured Cotswold stone exterior, pretty much typical of so many of the buildings to be seen in this part of the country. Sadly, meals didn’t match, there was a choice of burger and chips, chips and burger, veggie burger and…

We chose the best options we could find and added a couple of carbohydrate laden extras. They were ‘OK’. A couple of beers and a glass of Shiraz. No picture, it doesn’t deserve it. That said, another good day walking on the Thames Path.

The Thames Path
The Thames Path: Kemble to Cricklade
The Thames Path: Cricklade to Lechlade
The Thames Path: Lechlade to Tadpole Bridge
The Thames Path: Bablock Hythe to Osney Bridge, Oxford
A day off in Oxford
The Thames Path: Osney Bridge, Oxford to Abingdon
The Thames Path- Abingdon to Shillingford/Warborough
The Thames Path- Shillingford/Warborough to Goring

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