The Ridgeway: Goring to Watlington
I arrived at Goring station at around 10PM to find a friend I had arranged to meet already on the platform. The day was sunny and warm, and we headed towards the river to grab a quick coffee and a snack at a cafe near the bridge over the Thames. After this we set off, the first part of the day was going to be easy, as it was mainly walking near the or along the Thames, heading north towards the town of Wallingford. We passed though the village of South Stoke, pausing to have a look at the village church and to look at some Red Kites flying. I'd tried to take pictures of red kites before but it was virtually impossible using my tablet or phone. After South Stokes the path headed towards the river and continued along next to the bank, it was pleasant walking in the sun.
We made our way up towards the village of North Stoke occasionally seeing some walkers and also a large group of children carrying heavy backpacks. North Stoke was a small village, the path going through the church and we moved away from the river to a road, heading North towards Mongewell. There was nothing much at Mongewell which was a small collection of house, but the route left the river and headed off inland. The path headed along side a long linear feature known as Grims Ditch which went on for about 3km. It was not so obvious to start with but later on going through some woodland it was fairly obvious. My friend and I chatted about whether it was man made or natural and decided on the former but it was not until later that we learn't that we were correct. The ditch having been made during the Iron age though no one seems to be sure the reason for it being created.
The path continued uphill though some woodlands eventually turning left to the village of Nuffield and heading across a golf course, which for once was well waymarked. A few more Red Kites were seen around here and after the golf course we headed to a pub that was marked on a map, to find that it was now a cafe and art centre. We both got some tea and cake and headed into the garden for a welcome rest, the day was still sunny and it was pleasant to take some time off and enjoy it.
Leaving the cafe we headed downhill through some woods and across new ploughed fields before ascending again and passing by Ewelme Park Estate a well maintained Elizabethan estate. It was noticeable that the nature of the walk had changed from the previous days, there was less actual ridge walking and more smaller paths and it felt closer in nature the North Downs Way. The route passed through more villages and had more ascents and descents, I must admit I found it more interesting that the endless bridleways. A little further one we stopped to chat with two walkers a man and a woman who were a couple. They were quite new to walking and they told us about their trial and error way of learning about walking, though the man told us that he'd built up to carrying 33kg of flour at one point but said he'd not been able to walk very fast or for long carrying that much. I'm all for self-learning but there are loads of blogs and advice that can take some of the pain away from that learning experience.
We headed on talking with the couple as we went for about a kilometre, passing the 11 Century St Botolphs church at Swyncombe, at the top of ascent the couple had reached the point they wanted to get to and turned back, continue on downhill, seeing even more Red Kites and having a break where the route met the Swans Way. The bridleway here would take us to Watlington our destination for the day and after another couple of kilometres we reached the turn off for the town. We had a quick drink at a pub while we tried to arrange a back to Goring, which ended up costing us the princely sum of £43, there was however no other option. It was dark by the time I boarded the train for home but it had been a lovely day and an enjoyable walk, having someone to chat to made a lot of difference to the day.