Didcot Circular SWC walk 44
20 km (12.4 miles)
Difficulty 3 out of 10.
This walk, in an attractive part of the Thames Valley was originally devised as the Appleford Circular. We usually start from Didcot because the trains are better. In fact, trains to or from Appleford are non-existent today unless you count the one that arrives Monday!
We start off on a cycleway and are soon amongst fields. Later, an unspoilt riverside stretch leads to the lunchtime stop in Dorchester-on-Thames. Dorchester Abbey
, one of the few large monastery buildings to survive the Dissolution, is worth a visit. It has a unique Jesse window and, in the floor, near a medieval wall painting, lies a poignant memorial to a Sarah Fletcher
After lunch, the walk takes us back along the river to Little Wittenham. The church
there is also worth a quick visit to marvel at the sleeping knight near the window. The tower is said to have been built with the winnings of a card game. Soon after, you come to Wittenham Clumps
, a nature reserve encompassing two hills, one of which is surmounted by an Iron Age hill fort. The twin hills were once known as Mother Dunch's Buttocks, a name now politely forgotten. Trains
Get a return to Didcot.
Get the 10.00
Cheltenham Spa train from Paddington. Arrives Didcot 10:51.
Trains back from Didcot are frequent but times vary slightly: 1605 1648 1700 1706 1748 1756 1806 1847 1859 and so on. There are also stopping trains at xx:21, slow but handy for Ealing Broadway and other points west.
(There isn't a convenient start from Ealing Broadway today, but if you don't mind arriving late, the 09:35 Oxford train gets to Didcot at 11:08.)
Lunch Dorchester on Thames still has a large number of coaching inns and pubs, so there's plenty of choice. On past occasions, walkers have used the Fleur de Lys.
There is a pub, the Prince of Wales
01235 511380 near Didcot station. On return, it's on Station Road, just a short distance past the turn in for the station. Untried, as far as I know.
Anyone up for the longer route back (last paragraph p.4), via Long Wittenham, could divert to the Plough
there (follow the road to the right after passing the war memorial).
Otherwise there's a shop and refreshment facilities in the station itself.
Be sure to follow them back to Didcot, not Appleford.