Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Thames from Radley and Oxford

A long delayed trip to Oxford allowed me to walk another section along the Thames Path from Radley into Oxford. The weather has alternated from cold to mild. Today was on the mild side for mid-February but it is due to go back to winter again soon. Here is a map of the ten mile walk:

View Radley - Oxford in a larger map

This section of the Thames Path is not hugely exciting, the land is flat and there are only a few large trees near the river. At this time of year there is not a lot happening. The walk is pleasant enough in late winter sunshine.

Thames Path

Alder tree catkins were bursting out - the purple casing reveals the yellow interior.

alder catkin

I didn't spot all that much because the path was more muddy and slippery that I had expected, and so I had to concentrate on where to tread. The path was flooded in places.

flooded path

Of the plants showing signs of early growth, the humble nettle was the most striking.


Birds were in evidence everywhere, thrushes, blackbirds and robins singing away. On the Thames the ducks and geese were chasing and calling. A pair of Canada geese was making a fair old racket.

canada geese

Along the Thames there were many moored boats. Not a single one was actually moving and I didn't even see anyone on a boat. Behind the boats the mass of catkins make the alder trees look purple.

Thames boats

At Iffley lock there was work in progress. A large team of workmen were busy replacing the lock gates. It is quite amazing that so much money is spent on keeping the canal system in good repair. Not an exciting picture, but a bit unusual, you don't see lock gates out of the water that often.

iffley lock,lock gate

I left the Thames Path to visit Iffley Church, the village of Iffley has some fine houses owned by the well off as the village is so convenient for Oxford. It even has some thatched houses, which does seem a bit strange only a mile or two from the centre of Oxford.


Now for Iffley church; I have visited it once before and was impressed enough to come back with the sun in a good position to highlight its features. It is one of the best examples of the Norman Romanesque style you will find anywhere. The western elevation has the finest carvings, and the main door is the west one rather than the usual south.

iffley church

It is the amazing decorative carving that really takes the eye. The arch of the western door has a series of bird's heads (raven's?). I can't help thinking of Noggin the Nog.

Iffley church

The south doorway has a variety of interesting carved figures, all over 800 years old.

Iffley church

The inside is equally impressive, and I could post a lot more photographs. I thought the font was remarkable, the black marble top makes it look strange. The whole edifice belongs in a Dan Brown creation. For more pictures and history try this site: Iffley

Iffley church font

The sun was shining through a modern John Piper stained glass window in the south wall. I included it as it chimes with the natural history of my walks. All the creatures are speaking in Latin, the goose is saying 'Quando quando'.

Iffley church stained glass

Back outside I must include at least one flower, so these crocuses will have to do.


I continued along the Thames Path towards the centre of Oxford. Here is the view of Christchurch meadow, with Christchurch college church in the distance.


Not much of interest on the Thames Path as it winds its way around the outskirts of Oxford. To mark the completion of my walk from Maidenhead to Oxford here is the Osney Bridge which takes the busy Botley Road into Oxford. It is next to Oxford Rail Station.

Oxford,Osney bridge

Normally I would end the walk here, but as it is Oxford, I thought I would include some tourist snaps I took of the fine old buildings in the City. No more natural history to report. First was the Ashmolean Museum just over the road from the Randolph.

Oxford,Ashmolean museum

Then on to the Sheldonian Theatre, which was closed off due to some official ceremony, next to it, and to my mind more attractive is the Clarendon Building.

Oxford,Clarendon building

Another inevitable picture is of the Radcliffe Camera, not all that useful as a functional building but it does look good.

Oxford,Radcliffe Camera

I could go on, and on, so I'll end here with St. John's College just by the Oxford Martyrs' Monument.

Oxford,St. John's College