Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Retracing our steps

In the last few days we've reached the limit of navigation on the Thames at Inglesham (just beyond Lechlade) and started back down the Upper Thames.  Because of the wonderful weather we've been taking our time and doing more sightseeing off the boat than usual.

On Sunday we welcomed our friend Judith from Canada with Maurice and Carolyn from Kenilworth.
Judith, Carolyn, Ian (concentrating hard) and Maurice

All of us at Lechlade

We picked up our guests at Radcot and set off for a short day's cruising to Lechlade:
This is the old bridge dating back to 1267 at Radcot over a side channel

Radcot bridge - this one is newer at 1787 and we went under this one

St John's Lock - lots of tourists out on a nice Sunday

The spire in the background in this photo is of St Lawrence Church at Lechlade, a mile or more away.
Old Father Thames

This statue used to be located at the actual source of the river, but due to vandalism it has been moved to St John's Lock, the first on the river.

Another friend Gordon joined us in the evening at Lechlade and we enjoyed an evening meal together at the New Inn where we even had a private room as there were few diners on a Sunday evening.

After we said goodbye to our guests we decided to stay an extra day in Lechlade and on Monday we had an enjoyable walk around the area drawing on advice from a helpful assistant at the Library. As well as exploring Lechlade and doing some much needed shopping we walked to Inglesham which has an interesting church and is close to the navigable limit for narrowboats (canoes can go further) and to the start of the old Thames and Severn Canal, an ambitious restoration project.
The main street at Lechlade - a very pretty Cotswold town

Medieval wall paintings in Inglesham Church

Inglesham Roundhouse

The Roundhouse was once the house of the lock keeper for the first lock on the Thames and Severn Canal.  The canal goes straight on past the weeping willow tree whereas the Thames comes from the left of the picture.  You can just see the first canal bridge through the trees.

NB 'Noggin' turning by the Roundhouse

This narrowboat was 65 foot long and so we watched with interest how they managed the turn at the end of the navigable Thames.  It is a difficult turn made worse with a large sandbank on the South side.  Having seen them turn successfully we decided we would attempt it with our 57 foot boat the following day.

On Tuesday we cruised back to Radcot where we had arranged to meet more friends Steve and Margaret for an evening meal at the Swan by the bridge.  It was lovely to see them again a year after we met them while cruising through Oxford last year.

Another reason for mooring again at Radcot was to visit Kelmscott Manor the country retreat in the late 19th century of William Morris.  Unfortunately this is only open on Wednesdays and Saturdays, another reason for our leisurely pace.  We really enjoyed our visit here today:
Kelmscott Manor

Kelmscott Manor was built in 1600 and extended in 1667 and has been little altered since.  Morris rented the property and his family bought it after his death in 1896.  It is full of the famous fabrics and furniture and art of Morris and of Rossetti who shared the house and his wife!
Medlar Tree in the garden

A relief on cottages in the village, showing Morris under a tree

Kelmscott Church - where Morris is buried

Pews in the church - I think these are reversible seats from a tram!

Tonight we are moored a few miles downstream from Radcot in a delightfully rural spot alongside a buttercup meadow.  We have been watching curlews and swifts in the fields and fish rising from the river to catch the mayflies that make the mistake of falling in the river.  In the next few days we will be making our way downstream first back to Oxford and then down to Abingdon and Reading.

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