Backup Only

This Week's Walks - Archive

Please see the Saturday Walker's Club This Week's Walks page.

This is an archive of walks done by the Saturday Walker's Club. You should only need to use this page if the SWC website is down.

Blog Archive

Saturday, 7 September 2019

Saturday walk - Appleford Circular or Appleford to Didcot - a meander on the upper Thames

Length: 19km (11.8 miles) T=3.44
Toughness: 3 out of 10

9.30 (Bristol Temple Meads-bound train from Paddington to Didcot Parkway, arriving 10.12, changing there for the 10.31 (Oxford-bound) train to Appleford, arriving 10.35.

From Ealing Broadway you would need to get the 9.05 stopping train, which gets to Didcot Parkway at 10.21, connecting there as above.

Buy a day return to Appleford

For walk directions click here. For GPX click here. For a map of the route click here.

This walk takes in upper sections of the Thames, the attractive village of Dorchester-on-Thame, which has three different lunch options and is home to Dorchester Abbey, one of the few large monastery buildings to survive the Dissolution. In the afternoon it crosses Wittenham Clumps, a pair of Iron Age hill forts set in a nature reserve. Those who did it at this time last year also reported plenty of foraging opportunities, including apples, pears, quinces and "damsons in distress".

Originally an Appleford Circular, the walk was recast as a Didcot Circular due to poor train connections, but these seem to have improved a bit. Cross fingers that the specified train works, as it relies on a fast long-distance service to Didcot (unless you start from Ealing Broadway): if it does not, we can always start from Didcot, though that lengthens the walk to 13 miles.

Where you decide to return from depends on train times. Trains from Appleford go at 16.17, 18.17 and 20.17, changing at Didcot. (You could also get the 16.34 or 18.34 to Oxford and change there, but this would require a day return to Oxford). If taking this option, note there is no tea place in Appleford itself, though there is a pub in Long Wittenham, 2km before it, which seems to be open all afternoon.

Otherwise it is actually marginally shorter to walk to Didcot, which has fast trains (44 minutes to Paddington) at 16.23, 16.31, 17.30, 18.24, 19.30 (etc: check after this), and stopping services (1hr 26 mins, stopping at Ealing Broadway) at 02 and 32 past the hour. Your tea stop here is the Prince of Wales pub opposite the station, which apparently does vegan deserts.

1 comment:

Walker said...

Just n=4 on this walk, split between the fast and slow train. Both made the connection to Appleford despite some slow running. But it was a tight connection for the slow train and we hope no one was left behind.

It was my first time on this walk, which as someone else commented was definitely not commuter belt territory. There were lots of small white butterflies, plenty of seeding thistle, and a nice stretch along the river in the morning. The weather was w=brightish-cloud, though with some sun in the afternoon.

At lunch one left us to meet friends. One picnicked. The other two found the Fleur-de-Lis shut, while the George looked a bit posh. We went instead to the White Hart, whose lunch menu was burgers, panini and pizza - plus fish and chips, which I had. My companion at first got a dusty answer to her request for vegan options but was then served with a vegetable risotto that was reported nourishing but tasteless.

Dorchester-upon-Thames is not a complete vegan desert, however. After lunch we visited the Abbey and found it had a charmingly little tea room whose cakes included a delicious plum and something vegan one. Despite having a gooey chocolate cake myself, I was quite envious.

Thus fortified we set off to climb the Wittenham Clumps, which for me were the definite highlight of this walk, with an awesome panorama of the route so far. One of our party bypassed the hills, leaving two of us to walk on alone.

Nearing Didcot one felt the lack of the iconic power station cooling towers, only recently demolished. Approaching the town there was a housing estate being built on two fields that the route crossed (a temporary fenced path has been created across this).

I had expected the rest of the route into Didcot to be a dull suburban trudge. But actually it was a pleasant green path past a pond. On a bench by the pond we found our third walker and we sat in the sunshine watching the ducks and discussing life choices. Finding the pub by the station disappointing, we got the 18.24 fast train back to Paddington.