Monday, 7 April 2014

Burford, Lechlade and ... Downton, Oxfordshire Cotswolds

Having travelled a long way for an organised 3 night walking trip at New Year, it seemed like I had to put my boots on at least once during the rain soaked trip. While I was with another two viewing the sights of Oxford on the previous day, the rest of the party were out on full day walks ... testing their equipment out. As one seasoned attender said "It's not bad weather, it's just bad clothing" ! With that thought in mind, it was interesting listening to the stories of the warriors who returned after their exploits in the mud.

On day two, it was evident that more than two thirds of the group wanted to abandon the stalwarts in favour of something more practical. The weather forecast for the morning was abysmal becoming drier in the afternoon. My driver friend for the trip was becoming increasingly frustrated as he was getting withdrawal symptoms without his boots. He discovered a laminated short walk card next to the boot room in the centre where we were staying.

The basic plan for the day seemed less achievable due to the amount of cars and number of agreed locations to visit. It sounds simple to say we'll visit a Rohan walking shop in Bampton, go for a cup of tea in Burford and do a 4 and 1/2 mile walk in Lechlade. It somehow worked out ok, but not without the stress of the details.

Isobel Crawley's House

First stop Bampton. I have to disappoint people here by informing them that I have never even seen an episode of the TV series Downton Abbey but I went along with the plan in the interests of ... errr ... journalism ... haha. Downton is the fictitious name of Bampton and as I didn't know what I was meant to be looking for, I was relying on some of the excited voices around me. Unfortunately at this point, two minutes out of the car, the heavens opened and there was no time to photograph the church to the right as it was a sprint to the sale in the walking shop.

To say that we were in the walking shop for a while was an understatement, it was a welcome shelter from the rain with the owner maybe not quite believing how many people were in the shop. The walk on the previous day that I opted out of in favour of Oxford, was in very gruelling and wet conditions. One person wanted to improve the standard of her waterproof overtrousers so in the meantime I examined every possible and potential piece of kit and then discounted it on either not requiring it or the discount not being enough. After a while, the rain settled to a drizzle and I thought I'd take the lead by leaving the shop to find my friend who was getting edgy about the timings of the day. Unfortunately the purchase still hadn't been made and it seemed like another 20 minutes before everyone was satisfied. Bampton wasn't looking it's best today so I only managed two other shots of the village.

I wonder what's happened to the house prices here in the last couple of (Downton) years as the residents of Bampton might not like me showing you the house that looks the most unkempt but those that know me will understand I can't turn down a photo opportunity like that !

Next stop Burford and the rain hadn't stopped yet. Burford, at the eastern end of the Cotswolds otherwise known as the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, has essentially one main street built on a hill going down to a small traffic light controlled bridge across the River Windrush. As a result, it is unfortunate from my previous experiences here in high summer that traffic queues going downhill are a problem. The top end of the street is more residential with the lower end attracting tourists to the quaint shops.

A town of wool history, 14th - 17th century ... and 21st century
On this occasion I'll spare you the historical details of Burford that stretches back to Saxon times as I don't have the relevant photographic documentation ...

The aptly named Mermaid pub !
... we only came here for a cup of tea to warm up and the packed lunch picnic didn't happen until much later in the afternoon. My friend held the door open for me and realised " Oh no, he's taking another photograph again !"

There was a spare 30 minutes available before we all met back at the car park for the next instalment of the day. Some chose to stay next to the fire in the pub, others went shopping and you know what I did !

A couple of signs caught my attention outside a Craft /Art shop that took my mind off the weather. I felt that they could come in useful in my photo library for a later date ... and as it turns out, later in this post !

This way to the car park, the afternoon walk and ........ the drier weather !

Once everyone had found somewhere to park in Lechlade on Thames, we "congregated" outside the church ready for the walk. The distance of between 3 and 5 miles was achievable in an afternoon.

Essentially the route was through the churchyard and in an easterly direction along a less a bridle path  eventually crossing a road bridge over the River Thames and returning westwards on the southern side.

As it was winter time, the sun was getting low providing some wonderful lighting and textures.

If the weather had decided not to be kind to us, we would have finished the walk here by crossing the bridge back into Lechlade but we pressed on for what was the best part of the day.

Lechlade on Thames

We continued westwards along the southern side of the Thames until we reached a footbridge just before a mill. I spent a bit of time albeit rushed trying to photograph the mill as the sun was going down but in the end couldn't decide which one if any to put in the post as there are plusses and minuses ... I gave up and published them both ...

The walk back into town was along a hedge lined lane with breaks revealing the extent of flooding in the nearby fields. I should point out that there was another month of rain before things got really bad.

We eventually arrived back to Lechlade without the assistance of items to be dug out of the mud and a speedy return with tired legs.

The afternoon conversation with members of the walking party was pleasant enough ...

..... but thankfully someone had a whole afternoon of having nothing to say ..... !!


  1. Wow! So much here. They're all beautiful. My favorites are the Mermaid Pub and the Cotswold Cheee Company. Love the reflections on the water. And as far as Downton Abbey is concerned, it's your loss that you've not watched it. It's the kind of English aristocracy that we'd like to think actually existed in the early part of the 20th century. Then again, I've read a couple books on the subject that tell a very different story. But I love Downton Abbey anyway. The Cotswolds are beautiful any time of year, aren't they!

  2. Beautiful photos. I am glad you were able to get some clear weather shots, and also that you included those of the sunset. If you ever want to know about Downton, I could probably fill you in. I'll blame it on my daughter. She's the one who got me hooked.

  3. As always I adore the shots you take on your travels. You make me feel as I am there! I have to say, I would not have stayed by the fire either! Fantastic shot of the bridge!

  4. The captures lit with the golden light look very emotional, J, and the texture of the bridge seems very impressive in that light. I also like the Mermaid Pub, Cotswold Cheese Company shop, and the DIY shop of course, the shovel and spade were placed in the right spot for the capture. :)

    The trip could have been very different if the weather was not that rainy, you might have been disappointed. And yet the photos are interesting and probably not that common.

    PS I'm a stranger to the TV series Downton Abbey too because it is not broadcast here but I read such a great deal of praise that I wish I could test at least a sample of it. :)

  5. It sounds like you had quite an adventure. The sunshine and showers have allowed you capture some beautiful photographs. I like the way you have weaved them into your story.

    PS: I thought I was the only one on the planet that has never watched Downton Abbey ;-)

  6. It all came together in the end. The light when it arrived made for one of your best trips yet. I prefer the second shot of the mill. It looks a good area but I suspect it would be hell in summer.

  7. When I miss England, I come to your blog. The atmosphere is so British here! I like the old architecture and the peaceful streets.

  8. Okay, here I am again, enjoying these photos for a second time. The 6th from last, right after the words, 'published them both' is my new favorite and should be framed and hanging on my wall!! :-) Just stunning!

  9. Wow! Your photos with reflection!!! Soooo breathtaking. Absolutely wonderful photos. Can't stop looking at those.

    Btw, I love Downton Abbey. I watch all seasons and can't wait for the next one. Try to watch it too.

    Happy Weekend, Jayz! :)


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