Day 3. Boating on the Thames to Sandford Lock

Drawing back the curtains from our mooring on the Thames, we were greeted by clear blue skies and after a leisurely breakfast on board we decided to take a stroll around Clifton Hampden as it was too dark to see much the night before.

Clifton Hampden Bridge
Clifton Hampden Bridge

Both the village and the Barley Mow pub (where we had enjoyed a meal the night before) were featured in Jerome K. Jerome’s book ‘Three Men in a Boat’.  He described Clifton Hampden as ‘a wonderfully pretty village, old fashioned, peaceful, and dainty with flowers’.  Of the Barley Mow pub he thought it ‘without exception the quaintest, most old-world inn up the river’.  He’d definitely summed up the village very well as all these years later we were still in agreement with his 1889 book.

Barley Mow, Clifton Hampden
The Barley Mow, Clifton Hampden

It was approaching 10.15 a.m. by the time we returned to the boat and as some ducks and geese had gathered around expectantly, we fed them before untying the boat and remembered to take the chimney off the roof before setting off.

Feeding the geese and ducks at Clifton Hampton
Feeding the geese and ducks at Clifton Hampton

We continued downstream as far as the village of Burcot reaching there at 10.55 a.m. where we ogled at more beautiful waterside properties, many of them with their own boat houses and landing stages.

Burcot, Oxfordshire
Gorgeous waterside properties in Burcot

We then decided to turn the boat around as we were mindful of returning it promptly in two days time.  The river was quite broad on this stretch and in careful hands, my son Mark skilfully steered our 65ft boat round like a pro. and we began our return journey.

Clifton Lock
Clifton Lock

Back at Clifton Lock, it was a new experience for us to be heading upstream and I soon discovered that I needed to improve my rope throwing technique from down in the lock, as my first attempt ended in the water resulting in a soggy rope!  

Clifton Lock
Passing through Clifton Lock

Safely through, we continued onto Culham Lock where we moored just beyond the lock to enjoy an al fresco lunch out on deck.  It was so warm and sunny you’d be forgiven for thinking that we were on the Canal du Midi and not mid-October in Oxfordshire.

Enjoying lunch moored at Culham Lock
Enjoying lunch moored at Culham Lock

A stroll across the weirs to a backwater of the Thames and pretty village of Sutton Courtenay followed.  It’s definitely worth a visit to admire its beautiful half-timbered cottages and Norman church.

Characterful cottages in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire
Characterful cottages in Sutton Courtenay, Oxfordshire

We spent some time looking around the churchyard to find the graves of Prime-Minister Henry Asquith and author Eric Blair (George Orwell) who are both buried there.

Norman church, Sutton Courtenay
Norman church, Sutton Courtenay

It was then back on the boat for the journey upstream through Abingdon where we stopped to take on more water.  A little extra manoeuvring followed as we had to pull the boat in tight to reach the hosepipe as our filling point was on the opposite side to the towpath this time.  Remembering that water filling took so long the previous day we put the kettle on and had cups of tea and slices of malt loaf whilst we were waiting.

Approaching Abingdon Bridge on the Thames
Approaching Abingdon Bridge

Setting off again on our final stretch of the day we each took our turns at the tiller before mooring up for the night at Sandford Lock.  Conveniently it’s overlooked by yet another idyllic pub, The Kings Arms so we only had to cross the walkway over the lock gates to get there.

The Kings Arms, Sandford Lock
The Kings Arms, Sandford Lock

The pub was doing a good mid-week trade but fortunately there were a few unoccupied tables.  I settled on a courgette, pepper and hummus starter followed by a tasty plate of fish and chips accompanied by a glass of lager.

Fish and chips at the Kings Arms, Sandford Lock
Tasty fish and chips at the Kings Arms, Sandford Lock

We then returned to our boat, lighting the wood-burning stove once again and ending the evening sitting cosily round it with cups of coffee and some chocolates.

 

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44 thoughts on “Day 3. Boating on the Thames to Sandford Lock

    1. Stopping off each evening and finding moorings close to these traditional riverside pubs was the perfect way to end our days afloat. Thank you so much for your continued interest in this series of posts and I hope the New Year has got off to a good start for you both.

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  1. jasonlikestotravel

    Some of those waterside properties are gorgeous. Love the look of the Barley Mow too, wouldn’t have guessed it was a pub but for the sign on the building. Also al-fresco dining in October, you certainly lucked out with the weather on your trip 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. You won’t get anywhere in a hurry on a boat trip – but that’s one of my favourite things about them. It’s a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of the daily grind, to really slow down the pace of life, enjoy the scenery and spend quality time together. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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    1. Exactly, chugging along at a steady 4mph it takes awhile to get anywhere but that’s part of the fun. We really enjoyed the change of pace and with beautiful,scenery and wildlife around each bend of the river we were never bored. Thanks so much for your continued interest in this series on narrow boating Aiva.

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  3. Oh, I love the Clifton Hampden Bridge – such a lovely photo! And wow, some of those properties along the river are beautiful … must be wonderful to live there. You had amazing views on this day – love the bridges and pubs along the way. What a wonderful way of relaxing in nature!

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    1. It was a wonderful day Corna and we were blessed with some gorgeous late autumn sunshine. The reflections on the river were beautiful as were the picturesque small villages we wandered along to. Thanks for your continued interest in this series, it’s much appreciated.

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  4. Another tranquil time along the river! You certainly explored some noteworthy sites like Clifton Hampden and Sutton Courtenay, and those fish and chips look so crisp and hearty! Weather looked to be in your favor, too! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. October proved to be a lovely time for a narrowboat trip Rebecca with the autumnal tints and soft light. The villages of Clifton Hampden and Sutton Courtenay are both so pretty and it’s unlikely we would have come across them had we not been boating. Hope Christmas has gone well for you. Thanks for your welcome thoughts.

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  5. A fine end to a fun adventure Marion. Celebrated aptly I see, with some fish and chips. So much quintessential Englishness on display here from the river itself to all the locks, pubs, churches, cottages and bridges. I have made a note of ‘Three Men in a Boat’. Jerome K. Jerome looks like a hoot, I mean just check out his Wikipedia photo.

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  6. Looks like a beautiful day to be out on the water. Your pictures look lovely, especially the reflections on the river. I couldn’t help but laugh that you were feeding the ducks and geese. Sitting by the wood burning stove with a hot cup of coffee sounds like a fabulous way to end the day. Take care. Linda

    Liked by 1 person

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