…..without the cheese & wine.
It started badly. Gerry and I had arranged to meet in Cholsey’s Red Lion for a swift pint or two. A fine Plan you might think. This fine Plan had a major flaw: the pub was shut, the pint would have to wait. This was a major setback, there was a good chance that things could get out of hand.
GPS Gerry….note the T-shirt with a rather suspect design
Things began improving almost immediately: gloriously warm & sunny weather and a delightful walk along the Thames Path to Wallingford…and an open pub.
Beryl Margaret joined us in the pub, this was A Good Thing – her presence ensured we behaved moderately well. Margaret is a lady after all. After suitable refreshments and general rehydration our now swelled ranks advanced on Crowmarsh Gifford to meet up with the rest of the Daunderers at the campsite.
A merry evening was spent catching up with each other’s news and discussing the next few day’s exertions.
Crowmarsh Gifford to Henley
The next day dawned warm and sunny – this was darn sarf where it’s generally a wee bit warmerer than my home in the Northlands.
At whatever time it was that we agreed to set off, we did just that – but not after many photographs had been taken. This was to be a major expedition and we didn’t know how many brave souls would return safely.
Marching Eastwards is always a good thing, even in April. We sped along the ancient Ridgeway / Grim’s Ditch at a truly frightening pace. Such was our speed that noses were seen to be bleeding and heads were known to be aching. The latter complaint may have been down to over-enthusiastic rehydration exercises that took place in Wallingford’s boozah the previous evening.
As the sun rose higher in the sky our expeditionary force needed to call a halt to proceedings, our average speed was unacceptably high and matters needed to be taken in hand. We needed a rest, we were in grave danger of overheating. Apart from Robin who was sporting a fine Legionnaire-style hat, a snazzy summer shirt, cool LaSportiva Raptor footwear, and REALLY cool shades. A cool dude indeed.
Anyroadup, cool drinks (a hot drink in Gerry’s case) worked wonders, we were all soon suitably chilled and ready for the off once again.
The scenery in this part of Oxfordshire is quite lovely: gentle rolling countryside, lush fields, and pleasant woodland. The sunshine, wild flowers gently blowing in the warm breeze, and agreeable company combined to make our journey through this stereotypical English countryside a real delight.
Such a shame that eight Daunderers saw fit to shatter the peace and quiet. Oh well.
Resting is just so important:
The campsite at Henley was a bit posh: it had a bar that sold real beer and provided half-decent food. After showering and changing into the finest of eveningwear the Daunderer-in-Chief led a raid on the unsuspecting town – pies, fish, chips and beer were consumed in substantial quantities in Henley’s Three Tuns.
Henley to Watlington
After a night of snoring, grunting, farting and other things we decamped to the site’s restauranty thing for, in some cases, a second breakfast:
The Daunderer-in-Chief and his Second-in-Command decided it was time for the group to go out without their wise guidance. We were made to promise to be careful, hold hands when crossing the road and not to talk to strangers. I regret to report that we failed on all three counts.
Our map of Wales proved useful, we couldn’t locate our position on it. This proved conclusively that we weren’t in Wales. We had to double check when we spotted this sign:
Croydon demonstrating tree-hugging to Margaret
Our Glorious Leader pointing us in the wrong direction
The earlier (closed) pub meant that our first proper stop of the day was in a building site – although it was a pretty one. This yard of a church that had seen better days proved an ideal elevenses venue.
Beau Peep leads the way, the terrifying Doris must be at the rear of the party.
Lunch No2 was enjoyed at the Crown Inn at Pishill another fine Brakspear’s pub, there are a lot of them around here. Such was the hot sunshine that we ate in the beer garden – and it wouldn’t do to upset the genteel folk of Pishill with our raucous humour and smelly feet.
The Crown’s rather excellent loo
Legging it from The Crown Inn
The Watlington White Mark on Watlington Hill, en-route to our next overnight stop in Watlington. What a lot of Watlingtons.
Doris Beryl Margaret descending from Watlington Hill
Watlington to Cholsey
The last day of our expedition. I needed to be away early-ish, my train from Cholsey wouldn’t wait for me.
After a leisurely breakfast at the campsite’s picnic table I left the jovial crew and wandered back to Crowmarsh Gifford at a most un-Daunder-like pace: a moving average speed of 3.6mph. I’m a failed Daunderer.
Wallingford back to Cholsey was the reverse of the outward route, the Thames Path.
Four days of strenuous backpacking in good company is fine training for the rigours of the TGO Challenge and the Cheese & Wine Party. Those who successfully completed the Daunder (that’s all the Daunderers who started) should now be fully psychologically prepared to face anything that Aviemore’s Tesco wine shelf can throw at them. Not sure about the cheese though, I need to carry out more research into Aviemore’s various cheese emporia.
Crackers? Well that’s another matter entirely.
Thanks to Alan for all his hard work in planning in putting the Daunder together. Inviting such a grand bunch was an inspiration. Thank you, I enjoyed all your company immensely – it was just what I needed.