Thursday, 29 June 2017

Where did we get to?

... not as far as we'd originally intended!
 10 am Monday and we've been to Cleeve and back for water ...
 It was good to see Hambleden Marina's 'Gypsy Willow' out and about above Wallingford Bridge with Ben and friend onboard.

Cafe busy at Benson but not many hire boats out and about

 Stunning Shillingford Bridge

The most beautiful boathouse on the River Thames, just look at that ornate brickwork - marvellous!

Just a few yards afterward we thought we'd pull in if we could find a deep enough mooring but this one wasn't so we pulled away again and saw another immediately on the other side of the river
 ... from where I took these pictures - as I said not as far as we originally intended but this will do to while away a couple of days.
 180° panorama from our mooring - good hey?
 The sun was out and it was lovely and warm so guess what we did for the rest of the day?
 George doing a bit of gardening to make space for the BBQ - heaven!
 The view from the bow - we shall explore this tomorrow
 Snug as a bug in a rug!
Out exploring ... what's this hulk of rust ...

Looks like it started out as someone's project but now looks like it has a wildlife garden in it

 By climbing a five-bar gate we managed to get to the main road passing the Shillingford Hotel in the distance
 Shillingford Bridge
 One way only over the bridge - but watch out for the ducks!
 Empty swimming pool at the hotel
Gosh, that's a rather large cruiser passing by later in the afternoon.
It's been a good couple of day here even though the internet is a bit hit and miss.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

There and back again ...

Monday 5 am - a stunning sunrise at Wallingford
The sun is already burning a mist from the River Thames
Chris on fuel boat Merchant passes by with a wave

... at just 5:15 - just look at those wonderful colours!
20 past 6 and we're pulling away from our cosy mooring and winding in the river to turn once again downstream
The Thames at its best ...
... in the early morning
Our destination was Cleeve Lock to refill the water tank and are now winding again to return upstream
Not a 100% sure but think this is a Red Kite - anyone confirm?
It's a plain ordinary Buzzard!
He is looking directly at us - what great luck today!
The very decorative Moulsford Bridge, a pair of parallel bridges
... the first bridge build by I K Brunel in 1838 of red brick with Bath stone quoins and 4 skewed arches
The second bridge was built in the same manner in 1892 upstream of the original and providing four rail tracks in total.  The jagged pattern at the face of this bridge is created by the uncut bricks.
A first for us on Still Rockin' ... we're overtaking a narrowboat!
9 am and we're back where we started from at Wallingford
... but we're not stopping again and continue on our way to ...
watch this space!

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

A castle? In Wallingford?

We've stopped in Wallingford many a time
... but these gates etc., have been the only thing we've seen that appeared to be related to a castle ... that is until  Nicky paid her first visit here last week and found it but then I couldn't remember if she said that she accessed it from the towpath or the town!

So George and I walked into town passing the gates above but we knew there was no way in from there.  We walked back towards the bridge and started to take the lane just above the towpath and there met a gentleman coming towards us. "It's just boring up there" he said.  I said that we were looking for the castle and he started to explain where it was.  "Hang on though" he said "I'll take you there, follow me."  As we walked towards the town again I asked if he was a local and he told us that he is now, but hadn't always been, that in the past he'd been a schoolmaster at Eton and had moved to Wallingford on retirement.  An interesting and very kind man.
So, we arrived at the Castle Gardens 
(click picture to enlarge)
The gardens are beautifully landscaped

We walked over one of the ditches/moats on a drawbridge style wooden bridge and up the path that circled the motte on which once stood the huge tower/keep.
We could see St Peter's church spire as we climbed
... and the views
... from the top
... were
... pretty good too!
We wondered where this path was
... and then back down again

... we see more remnants of the castle walls

A few days later we decided to find the castle again from the towpath
 ... and came to a newish fence, gate and information panel (again, click to enlarge) which show that as late as 2003 archaeologists were still discovering more about the castle

Shame that the box was empty, as was the one we came to at the end of the walk too.

Whilst walking the meadow we come across this Victorian pond which was probably part of the Castle moat and is now a wildlife habitat

As we walked we discovered more ancient walls

... and cows lying down - did they know that it was going to rain soon?

We finally found the path we saw from the tower
This would have been part of the Queen's tower on the riverside
(click to enlarge)
Opposite and a little to the right of the red circle where we were standing you can see the gates into the town in my first picture.

Looking towards the castle's ...
... outer bailey
... and the view behind us.

Wallingford Castle was one of the largest and strongest in the country.  It was built on the orders of William the Conquerer in 1067 and after his victory in the Civil war he ordered that it should be demolished as it posed too great a risk.
We sat for a while after our walk in the lovely gardens.  The wall you can see would have been part of the inner bailey which contains the motte and keep.

We leave the Castle Gardens and walk into town by a different route passing all that is left of All Hallows churchyard.  This information board tells of stories/rumours of highway men and heartache!

Back into Wallingford Market Place and the old drinking fountain
Wallingford Guildhall and St Mary-le-More Church which we would have liked to visit but there was a wedding ceremony going on inside (I hope they've chosen a nicer place for their photos!)
And last but not least another information board - Modern Wallingford.

Thank you for staying with me, you may realise how much I've enjoyed seeing this lovely town from a very different perspective.