Friday, 1 July 2016

Wallingford to Wittenham.

Moored in front of us at Wallingford was a large motor cruiser, 'Cream Cracker' owned by John & Sharon, which had come up the Thames from Rochester. We had a great evening on board Oakapple and compared our very different cruising patterns. Although we share the river, they are used to going to sea. After another day moored up in the rain we both departed yesterday morning. We watched the cruiser starting its twin 8ltr. engines. One started in a cloud of smoke and as it settled down the other burst into life, producing a throaty roar. The captain said it reminded him of those old films you see of a Lancaster bomber getting fired up. At a rather more sedate pace we started our Gardner and followed in thier wake upstream as far as Days Lock.
We moored on a field full of young bullocks, overlooked by the two beech crowned hills called Whittenham clumps, sometimes known as 'mother Dunch's buttocks, after a 17th century lady of the manor.. It is a good walk to the top with fine views of the Oxfordshire landscape and red kites soaring  in the skies above. (The birds, not the ones on strings)
One of the hills is the site of an iron age hill fort, with its defensive ditch earthworks and dating from around 600bc. The site was ocupied up until the time the Romans arrived in the area.
Making our way back towards the river we visited the little church behind the lock. As with all old churches, the minute you shut the door, the world outside receeds, the building seems so peacefull. There is a very ornate tomb there with efigies of a Knight and his lady. Carved into the base are representations of thier 9 children. The lady, who may have been the one to inspire the nickname for the clumps, was the aunt of Oliver Cromwell, lord protector of England in the time our country was without a monarch after the civil war.

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