Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Day 4 - Morse and the Mad Hatter

Day 4 began with me waking up in my King-size bed, in my 4 star hotel...no it wasn't a dream, I had had a bath. A huge thanks you to the manager of The Feathers Hotel, Dominic Bishop, for arranging this stay. www.feathers.co.uk if you are ever this way...and want a gin or several...did I say there were 400 to choose from?!

After my first live link up with Adam Morris on 96.4 Eagle Radio, I was back on my way. Just a relatively short one to Oxford, 11 miles,

First stop was Bladon and the surprisingly humble grave of Winston Chruchill. There were floral wreaths in his honour from the the Danish Resistance. Other members of the family are buried alongside him.

Then onwards across Begbroke heading for Yarnton, via the charming sounding Frogwelldown Lane...basically an avenue of trees between two fields...no frogs but the shade did go down well in the sunshine.

Yarnton was a lovely little village and the church an absolute gem! Many of the Spencer family are buried here who, interestingly, originated from Snitterfield north of Stratford, where Will's dad's family hailed from. There were some exquisite stained glass windows dating from the Middle Ages (an all seeing eye particularly striking)...just outside the main entrance was a medieval cross shaft. There was also a TV crew base in the next field but couldn't see what they were working on!

I then began heading for Oxford proper and in doing so joined firstly the Oxford Canal, and then River Thames for the first time. I joined the Thames at Wolvercote, which for me will always be synonymous with Inspector Morse - the Wolvercote Tongue novel is the only one I have read, but I remember the TV episode starred Simon Callow! I used to love Morse...and still find myself hooked to the tv if one comes on. I think it was a combination of brilliant acting, great story, locations I knew and a gorgeous setting. I am sure 16th century The Trout Inn I passed was used more than once in the series!

The final 2 miles of the day were along the Thames Path starting at Godstow. The ruins of the abbey are still very present, a Benedictine Nunnery founded in 1115. It was given to Henry VIII's doctor in 1539 after the Dissolution of the Monasteries, and largely destroyed during the Civil War.

Godstow and the river held another fascination for me, for it was here on 4 July 1862 that Lewis Carroll came for a day along the river with Alice Liddell and her sisters, and so began the stories of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. I really hadn't put two and two together that I would visit this place on my walk, but fitting given last year's production.

As Oxford grew ever closer I felt an impeding sense of busyness, of commerce, people and movement, and I wondered if Will had felt the same. Oxford in 1600 wasn't the size it is today, actually quite small, about 4500-5000 people. Double that of Stratford, but certainly nowhere near the size of towns like Norwich, York or Will's closest metropolis, Coventry. Oxford existed effectively because of the University. The castle was old and there was no royal residence in the town.

Nevertheless I'm sure it was a very bustling place and Will would have felt difference.

...and that's all for today...like I say, a fairly straight forward day...mileage begins to pick up tomorrow (17 tomorrow) ...as does the temperature apparently!

Day 4 stats: 11.7 miles | 3 hrs 53 mins | 910 calories | 26,200 steps

Total mileage so far: 64.1 miles

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