Special Sub-Topic: A Boat Trip along the River Thames through Oxford
|You want to begin your idyllic journey from as close to the source of the river as possible. Where do you pick up your boat?|
Lechlade. The closest point to the head of the Thames that you can hire a boat is Lechlade-on-Thames. Beyond Lechlade the river is only navigable by very small, shallow draught, boats. The actual source of the river is close to Kemble in Gloucestershire.
|Within a few minutes you encounter your first lock. This is St John's Lock. There is a statue on the lockside. Who does it commemorate?|
Old Father Thames. The statue of Old Father Thames was commissioned in 1854 for the Crystal Palace. The artist was R Monti. Following the fire in 1936 the statue was moved to the source of the river, only to be re-located again in 1974 because of fears of vandalism. St John's Lock gets it's name from a nearby Priory that was established in 1250, but which no longer exists. St John's is also the highest lock on the river, being 234ft ( 71.5m ) above sea level.
|As you continue your trip down river you pass Buscot and Grafton locks. You arrive at what is, reputedly, the oldest existing bridge across the river. Where are you?|
Radcot. Radcot Bridge, supposedly, dates from around 1200AD. There have been three battles around the area, the first occurred in 1387, the second during The Wars of the Roses and the third was a Civil War Battle in 1645.
|As we leave we follow the river through the beautiful Oxfordshire countryside. There are many places to stop, but if you want to see Oxford itself you need to carry on for quite a few hours yet. The first Oxford lock you come to is Kings Lock. After another couple of hours you reach Godstow. There is a pub just across the river that featured in a well known TV series. Which one?|
Morse. The pub in question is The Trout. It featured in more than one episode. On the far bank of the river from the pub are the remains of Godstow Abbey which was built around 1133. It was sacked during the Civil War by the New Model Army led by Fairfax. The pub is on the site of the hospital that was attached to the Abbey.
|As you leave your mooring there is a flat expanse of land on your left hand side. Because you are in a boat, and you must 'drive' on the right, you cannot land. There would be no point in trying though, as the river at this point is very shallow along the left hand bank. Which ancient part of Oxford are you passing?.|
Port Meadow. Port Meadow is the largest area of Common Ground in Oxford. It extends to some 440 acres. Freemen and Commoners of Wolvercote still have grazing rights to this day. In the middle of Port Meadow is a burial mound, which gives it the status of both a Site of Special Scientific Interest ( SSSI ) and a Scheduled Monument.
|From this ancient site we continue into Oxford, passing under Folly Bridge. If you moor up on the right hand side, and take a walk back and over Folly Bridge, you come to one of the most famous colleges of the University. Here you can walk through the gardens and follow both the river and a backwater. Which college's grounds are you in?|
Christchurch. Christchurch Meadow is a well known place to walk and picnic in Oxford. It is roughly triangular in shape being bordered by the Thames, the River Cherwell and Christchurch itself. Christchurch Meadow is the site of the first balloon ascent by an Englishman. James Sadler lifted off on 4th October 1784 and rose to a height of around 3,600ft. He landed six miles away at the village of Woodeaton.
|After spending the night opposite you get up bright and early to continue your journey. You pass the college boathouses and begin to leave the city. One of the last locks is the beautiful Iffley lock. As you go through the lock keeper admonishes you for going too fast. What is the speed limit on the river?|
8 kph ( 5mph ). Basically, the speed limit is just above walking pace. The reason is to prevent excessive wash eroding the banks, and to prevent a nuisance to other river users. There are always some people who ignore this limit, especially when approaching a lock. On many trips down the river in our narrowboat we were passed by glassfibre cruisers who wanted to get into the lock first. The look on their faces as they realised that we were still going to get into the lock with them, in 25 tons of solid steel canal boat, was absolutely priceless.
|Leaving Oxford the river turns south. You are now heading for Abingdon. Until the County Boundary changes in the 1970's you would be heading into a different county. Which county was Abingdon part of before the change?|
Berkshire. A quick look at an old map will show you that Abingdon was once in Berkshire. The boundary between the two counties was the course of the river. Oxfordshire was on one side and Berkshire was on the other. The site of Abingdon has been occupied since the Bronze Age. It was once the home of the MG car marque.
|As you continue south you eventually arrive at Clifton Hampden. There are one or two mooring places here, and you decide to stop because you know that the nearest pub is mentioned in a famous book about a boat trip along the river. The book in question is Tales Of The Riverbank.|
f. The book was "Three Men In A Boat" by Jerome K Jerome. The pub in question is the Barley Mow. At the time of writing this quiz, April 2007, the pub is still there and open for business.
|You leave Clifton and carry on with your journey. There are only four locks left before you leave Oxfordshire and enter into Berkshire. Which of the following is the last lock you go through that is in Oxfordshire?|
Goring. Goring Lock is between the villages of Goring and Streatley. They are on opposite sides of both the river and the County boundary. The weir between the two is a beautiful site, and well worth a visit with a camera. I hope you enjoyed your trip along the upper reaches of the Thames, and look forward to seeing the lower part from Reading to London.
Did you find these entries particularly interesting, or do you have comments / corrections to make? Let the author know!
Send the author a thank you or
Submit a correction