We continued down the length of the Oxford canal …..
…. passing through Somerton Deep Lock. At 12 feet it’s probably one of the deepest locks on the system. With the very pretty cottage next to it, it’s a well known landmark.
Our mooring for Sunday night was Thrupp – a tiny village but a very welcoming one to narrow boaters.
Quite by chance narrow boater, and blogger friend, Maffi (nb “Milly M”) was ‘in port’ when we arrived in Thrupp and we just had to meet up with him in The Boat for a few pints together. Grand evening Maffi – thank you for your company!
After our evening with Maffi we were on our way Monday morning, reaching Oxford by mid afternoon. We were pleased to find our favourite mooring free. Just a few yards from Hythe Bridge Road and a five minute walk to the city centre, it’s not an easy mooring to get at as it’s a 100 yards down a dead end with no way of turning – so you either have to reverse down or reverse back wards.
That evening our friends Marcy and Phil drove over from their home in Abingdon to spend the evening with us – and a lovely time we all had together.
On Tuesday James ‘slipped the leash’ and had an afternoon wandering around this “city of dreaming spires” by himself – a place he’s very familiar with and which holds many memories for him. Oxford can’t be experienced without reference to some of the most stunning architecture to be found anywhere. Oxford University was founded in 1161 and Balliol (above) dating to 1263 has a good claim of being the oldest of the colleges.
The Sheldonian Theatre is a stunning building both inside and out. It was built in the mid 1600’s after a design by Sir Christopher Wren.
Oxford has its own Bridge of Sighs. Built in 1930, two years after Cambridge built theirs as Oxford could not be outdone! The one in Cambridge is built over a lovely river but Oxford had to make do with a road! It is, however, a beautiful construction.
The oldest pub in the city, and one of the most difficult buildings to find, is The Turf Tavern. Its use can be dated back to 1381 when it was called the Spotted Cow. Due to it’s reputation as a centre for horse betting it was renamed the Turf Tavern. It was used many times in the filming of the TV series ‘Morse’. [it’s location can be found down a narrow alley, on the left, just past the Bridge of Sighs]
A visit to the Botanical Gardens is a delight – especially on a sunny, if somewhat chilly, day in April! This is the original gateway into the gardens with the bell tower of Magdalen College behind.
On the edge of the Botanic Gardens runs a back water of the River Isis. (traditionally the River Thames, as it runs through Oxford, is called the Isis) – and an old traditional Oxford pastime is punting. It’s a pity they didn’t tell him that he’s standing at the wrong end of the punt!
This is a view of the High Street with some of those wonderful ‘dreaming spires’ which Oxford is famous for. The number of Grade I listed buildings in Oxford is exceptional!
On of the oldest buildings in the High Street is the University Church of St Mary. It’s been the official church of Oxford University since the 1200s and is the resting place of Dr John Radcliffe.
John Radcliffe died in 1714 and left £40,000 to the university (equivalent to £500 million today). From the original sum the Radcliff Camera (above), the Radcliffe Infirmary and the Radcliffe Observatory were built and the trust still exists today.
At the head of the High Street is Carfax Tower from the top of which you can get the most amazing views of the city.
This view from the tower (on the right) shows Christchurch College and Christchurch Cathedral (which serves as the college chapel!)
The Ashmolean Museum is a must to visit – a day is not enough!
And, opposite the Ashmolean is the fabulous five star Randolf Hotel.
On Tuesday evening we had visits from two friends. Debbie (one of James’ oldest and dearest friends). The catch-up conversation was so animated and hectic that we forgot to take a photo! (sorry Debs!) and Paul, who by chance arrived in the afternoon from his home in York for a work appointment. Here we are having a great Thai meal nearby.
On Wednesday we left dear old Oxford, passing through Louse lock with it’s elegant cast iron footbridge, and headed onto the River Thames.
Its always a great delight to be on “Old Father Thames” – probably our favourite waterway. After the rather underwhelming Osney lock, and still technically in Oxford, comes the delightful setting of Iffley Lock.
Onward to Abingdon lock, and our stopover for the night, and we get a rather sarcastic and humorous warning from the lock keeper!
This is our very pleasant mooring below the bridge in Abingdon.
That evening, at Abingdon, we had a visit from friends Simon and Steve who drove from their home nearby to spend the evening with us. We hadn’t seen these boys for quite a while so a catch-up was very necessary. Thanks for coming to see us guys!
Onward the next day and the Thames throws up something wonderful at every turn on it’s meandering course through Oxfordshire and into Berkshire. This stunning brick built bridge at Clifton Hampden is by Sir George Gilbert Scott.
The approach to Day’s Lock is dominated by the famous Wittenham Clumps.
Just after Day’s Lock is the confluence of the River Thame with the River Thames (rather confusingly!). It’s upstream of this point that the Thames has been historically known as the Isis.
On a very tight bend in the river at Shillingford we start to get a taste of some of the truly impressive residences that share their frontage with the water.
The quiet ancient market town of Wallingford had the privilege of our company on Thursday night. Today there are still quite a few buildings dating back to the 16th century which survive to this day.
The town may have had the privilege of our company but we had the privilege of the company of boating friends Sue and Vic (wb “No Problem XL”) who were moored just upstream of where we pitched up for the night. We were invited onto their new, and very impressive, wide beam boat for drinks - which went on until quite late! A grand evening was had by all and thanks to you both for your company and comfort aboard the marvellous “No Problem XL”
A serene scene of the river from Wallingford’s seventeen arch bridge (!) – we’re moored far centre of the pic. So far the weather has been good, if a little parky occasionally, and the river has behaved itself with just a gentle flow to help us on our way. We look forward to the rest of this magical waterway.