16. Abingdon to Oxford

This is a lonely stretch and until recently it was inaccessible from Abingdon. Lewis Carroll often walked the towpath from Oxford as far as Radley where his friend was vicar. Around Radley, the college oarsmen flash past rushes harvested every July for chair seating by Tony Handley of Country Chairmen who is the only supplier of native freshwater rushes. Salisbury Cathedral’s chairs have Thames rush seats. The same patch is cut only every three years so sometimes the team of around fourteen harvesters camp as far upstream as Tadpole or Rushey above Oxford. The towpath becomes firmer and busier on approaching Oxford where there is, of course, more rowing.

Refreshments

Abingdon: Crumbs, High Street. Open 8am-4pm (Sun 3pm).
Abingdon: The Nag’s Head, Abingdon Bridge. Closed since January 2011.

Abingdon: Throwing Buns, Market Place. Mon-Sat 8.30am-5pm.

Iffley Meadows: The Isis. On towpath. Open all day.
Oxford (Folly Bridge): The Head of the River pub. Open all day in summer.

Accommodation

Abingdon: Susie Howard, 22 East St Helen Street, OX14 5EB (01235 533278).
Abingdon: St Ethelwold’s House, 30 East St Helen Street, OX14 5EB (01235 535279)

Transport

Abingdon: National Rail to Oxford then Bus X3 (Oxford Bus Company 01865 785400) to Abingdon.
Oxford: National Rail.

Tourist Information

Abingdon: 25 Bridge Street, OX14 3HN (01235 522711).

Map

OS Explorer 170 (Abingdon) and 180 (Oxford).

From the Sea to the Source