28 May – A bit of upping and downing

Why are the high areas in this part of England called downs?

In old English the word for Hill was “dun.” As a result, the hills we’ve been walking over are called downs.

Today’s walk was a bit different from the past few. We walked out of Streatley in a damp mist and followed the River Thames for a while. “Wind in the Willows” came to mind. Some of our walk was through damp high grass meadow, some between high fences and hedges, some through a quiet very upscale residential area. No rundown weedy gardens here. Beautiful homes of varying sizes. Lovely gardens, all prolifically blooming. We watched some rowing shells rushing up and down the river, the rowers all in perfect rhythm and the bosons providing an occasional direction.

Next we walked through a more than five kilometre stretch of narrow woodland along a Iron Age earthworks. The mound had been created by digging a deep ditch along one side. This was possibly a boundary of some sort to demarcate someone’s land from someone else’s. It is called Gim’s Ditch. It made for pleasant walking as the day became warm and muggy. As we walked along I wondered what this place would tell me if the rocks and trees could speak.

We stopped at a couple of village churches. One offered cakes and tea as the local pub was closed. Another had medieval wall frescos. Both had benches on which to rest. We were in no rush today so had a few pleasantly longer than normal rest stops. We’re busy eating all the extra bits and pieces in our lunch bags that we’ve been carting along for the past few weeks! The wee bags of English crisps travel very well! There’s nothing like a bag of crisps for an afternoon snack in a grassy meadow.

The route today was a bit narrower and more hilly than the past couple of days. The ups were hot in the afternoon! We paused to watch a pair of hawks circle overhead. They hung nearly motionless in the warm air as they searched for small creatures in the grass. We paused to discuss the philosophy of being a black sheep with several such creatures. We had a discussion about having nervous dispositions with some cows. We have dawdling down to a fine art.

We’re now in Watlington at the Fat Fox Inn. Our room is cozy and pleasant. The ensuite has a bath tub! Bliss. We walked 25 kms today and on top of the past couple of long days we’re feeling a bit weary. This blog is a bit disjointed as a result. My mind is really more on dinner than doing a good proof read!

Cheers from Watlington in Oxfordshire (I think)

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