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The Old Post Office Wallingford and River Trail

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The Old Post Office Wallingford and River Trail
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 23 Oct 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Oxfordshire, Wallingford
Walk Type: History trail
The Old Post Office Wallingford and River Trail
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 3 mile circular pub walk from the Old Post Office in Wallingford, Oxfordshire. The Old Post Office pub is a warm and friendly meeting place, serving great food and drink all day. The walking route takes in some of the old treasures within the town (including the town hall, castle grounds and several churches) before following a picturesque section of the riverside path along the Thames.

The walk is relatively flat throughout. Some of the field, woodland and riverside paths can get very muddy in winter and after periods of rain. There are no stiles or steps on route, just some single gates and footbridges to negotiate. Whilst most of the paths are enclosed, there is one field length of the Thames Path that passes through a pasture which may be holding cattle. There are public toilets in the car park at the start of the walk. Approximate time 1 to 1.5 hours.

Wallingford is located on the west bank of the River Thames, about 10 miles south of Oxford. The walk starts and finishes from the Old Post Office pub by the market place. The best car park to use is the Cattle Market long-stay pay and display car park on the corner of New Road and Wood Street. The price is £1.80 for up to 5 hours (correct October 2014). Approximate post code OX10 0AU.

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Walk Sections

Start to Old Post Office
Start to Old Post Office

Start point: 51.5986 lat, -1.1236 long
End point: 51.5997 lat, -1.1251 long

To begin the walk you need to make your way from the car park to the Old Post Office pub. Standing in the car park with the entrance for the toilet block on your right, walk ahead and pass through the arch in the stone wall (signed for Ridgeway Community Church and Town Centre). Turn right along the road, Wood Street, and then take the first turning on the left, Hart Street, signed again for the town centre.

You will emerge to a T-junction with St Mary-le-More Church ahead. Turn right and then immediately left to pass round the front of the church (on the left). You will find the Old Post Office pub, the start point for this walk, directly ahead. You can enjoy your refreshments here before or after your walk – the choice is yours.

Old Post Office to Castle Gardens
Old Post Office to Castle Gardens

Start point: 51.5997 lat, -1.1251 long
End point: 51.6019 lat, -1.1238 long

Begin facing the Old Post Office, built in 1936. Over the door is rare monogram of Edward VIII who abdicated in 1936 and so was never crowned. Now stand with your back to the Old Post Office and you will have a good view of St Mary-le-More Church in front of you. The exact construction date is unknown but the church was certainly built by 1077. The present tower was built in 1653, partly from stones from Wallingford Castle which was demolished a year earlier. The rest of the church has been redesigned several times since, mainly in the Gothic style.

Turn left along the pavement for a few paces to get a good view of the market place on the right. Here you will see the war memorial topped with a bronze statue and, behind it, the old Corn Exchange which dates from 1856 and now houses a cinema and theatre. On the right-hand side of the market place is the Town Hall, a timber-framed building constructed in 1670. The open area behind the columns was once used for market stalls, while the chamber above once housed the courts.

Even if you have not visited Wallingford before, it may seem familiar. The town of Wallingford, and particularly the market place, has been used many times as the setting for the fictitious town of Causton in the TV mystery drama, Midsomer Murders. The Corn Exchange, both inside and out, has featured in four episodes as Causton Theatre. The amateur dramatics group based at the Corn Exchange often supplies extras for the TV series. Even Wallingford Parish Choir has featured when the story line involved the Midsomer Worthy Choir. Appearing in three episodes so far they have sung carols, won a choir competition, received death threats and witnessed unspeakable horrors; a Midsomer Murder is always eventful!

Keep ahead along the pavement of St Martin’s Street to reach the crossroads with traffic lights. Go straight ahead into Castle Street. After just a short distance, take the first road on the right, Bear Lane, signed for Castle Gardens. On the left you will pass All Hallows Graveyard and then you will reach the entrance gate for Castle Gardens on the left. Step through the arch to admire the gardens. We will learn more about Wallingford Castle itself later. For the moment you have the option of exploring the gardens should you wish (although note that dogs are not permitted). Return to this gate once you have finished exploring.

Castle Gardens to Drawbridge
Castle Gardens to Drawbridge

Start point: 51.6019 lat, -1.1238 long
End point: 51.6022 lat, -1.1217 long

To continue the walk, retrace your steps back to Castle Street, cross over and turn right to continue along the pavement. After passing an old stone gateway and lodge on the right, turn right onto the stone and grass track signed as a public footpath. The track swings right and leads you between walls and under a brick arch.

Further along you will pass under a drawbridge-style wooden footbridge. It is worth pausing a moment here to understand the significance of this old castle site. Over the wall to the right are the Castle Gardens we visited earlier, whilst over the wall to the left are the Castle Meadows, the central site of the former medieval castle. To your left the view is dominated by the large earth mound (or motte), the heart of the 11th century castle. When capped by its original stone tower it must have been a formidable sight.

Wallingford, sitting on a key crossing point of the River Thames, was once one of the largest fortified Saxon towns in England. During the Norman conquest in 1066, William the Conqueror and his army crossed the river ford here and ordered the building of Wallingford Castle. The impressive castle became one of the most powerful royal castles over the next two centuries but, when Henry VIII abandoned it as a royal residence, it fell into decline. Under Queen Mary the site was stripped for building materials for use at Windsor Castle. Today the earthwork remains are a scheduled ancient monument.

Drawbridge to Bridleway
Drawbridge to Bridleway

Start point: 51.6022 lat, -1.1217 long
End point: 51.5997 lat, -1.1169 long

Continue on the track which swings right and becomes a tarmac lane. You will emerge to a T-junction with The Street. Dominating the skyline ahead is the tall open stone spire of St Peter’s Church. The original church was destroyed in the Civil War and rebuilt in the 1770s.

Turn left and follow the pavement as it leads you across the River Thames via Wallingford Bridge. This is the site of the original ford that William the Conqueror and his army would have crossed in 1066.

Once over the bridge, keep ahead along the pavement just until you draw level with St Stephen’s Field, a road on the left. Cross over the main road here, to reach an entrance to a woodland path. Do NOT take the kissing gate on the right into the meadows, instead keep ahead on the main wooded path signed as a bridleway to the Ridgeway and Grim’s Ditch.

Bridleway to St Mary Newnham Murren
Bridleway to St Mary Newnham Murren

Start point: 51.5997 lat, -1.1169 long
End point: 51.592 lat, -1.1203 long

A little way along, ignore the next kissing gate off to the right, instead swing left on the main bridleway. You may be able to see a caravan park through the fence and hedge on the left. At the next crossroads of paths keep straight ahead, still following the main bridleway.

As you leave the trees and woodland behind, the fenced path continues with beautiful views across the open fields each side. You will come to a T-junction with a tarmac farm access lane, turn right along this. Follow the lane past the buildings of Newnham Farm on the right. Immediately after passing the entrance drive for Newnham Farmhouse and Cottage on the right, look out on the right for a small metal gate under an arch of trees which leads you into the churchyard of St Mary Newnham Murren.

St Mary Newnham Murren to Thames Path
St Mary Newnham Murren to Thames Path

Start point: 51.592 lat, -1.1203 long
End point: 51.5893 lat, -1.1241 long

Take a moment to admire this charming flint church with its external bellcote. Dating from the 12th century and restored in 1849, the church was declared redundant in 1973. A handful of services are held here each year.

When you have finished enjoying the church, return back through the metal gate and turn right to continue along the access lane. The track narrows to a stone path and then becomes paved. As you reach a ‘Riders Dismount’ sign (just before an underpass), turn right and follow the narrow path which leads you out to the main road, the A4130.

Turn right along the pavement and follow it as it leads you back over the River Thames. At the far side of the bridge, fork right down the signed footpath. Pass through the single metal gate ahead to reach a riverside pasture (which may be holding cattle). Bear left to merge with the Thames Path, heading north, with the river on the right.

Thames Path to End
Thames Path to End

Start point: 51.5893 lat, -1.1241 long
End point: 51.5998 lat, -1.1251 long

At the far end of the pasture, pass through the metal gate and cross the footbridge. Continue on this fenced section of the Thames Path. Further along, a footbridge leads you across a stream inlet and you will pass a white building on the left with a Thames Conservancy 1913 plaque. This is the Old Thames Conservancy House. The Conservancy was a historical body responsible for management of the River Thames from 1857 to 1974. At its height, the Conservancy managed the operation of all the locks, weirs, tolls, angling rights, navigation and regulations for the river.

The path continues across the bottom of private gardens with boat moorings on the right and then leads you in front of the Oxford University Boat Club (OUBC) impressive brick and glass boathouse. The club’s previous boathouse was burnt down in 1999 and this one, Fleming Boathouse, was built in 2007.

A little further along, the Thames Path becomes a tarmac lane which veers left. Immediately after passing the first property on the right, The Boathouse, and opposite the first property on the left, turn right onto the (slightly hidden!) path signed as the Thames Path. Follow this under the arch within the terraced houses and over a footbridge. You will pass St Leonard’s Church on the left. This site defines the south east corner of the old Saxon walled town. St Leonard’s Church is Norman in origin, the oldest of the surviving churches in Wallingford, and its churchyard is a managed nature reserve.

You will emerge to the corner of St Leonard’s Lane, turn left along this passing the church on the left. Ignore the turning for Wood Street on the right, simply keep ahead to reach the crossroads with the main road, St Mary’s Street. Turn right along this. Keep ahead just as far as St Leonard’s Square. This marks the southern boundary of the old medieval market place, but today the square is dominated by the ornate red brick buildings of the Methodist Chapel and the former Free Library (dating from 1871).

Turn left onto the pavement which passes immediately in front of the Methodist Chapel and then turn right onto St Martin’s Street. A little way along you will come to the Old Post Office on the left for some well-earned hospitality.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 responses to "The Old Post Office Wallingford and River Trail"

This walk has a good mixture of local history and scenic views across the Oxfordshire countryside and the River Thames. It's one that I think we will do more than once.

By Richard on 2014-10-24 10:36:18

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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3 images to "The Old Post Office Wallingford and River Trail"

3706_1Richard1414072708 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Wallingford town centre taken in October 2014
3706_2Richard1414072708 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Tree in Castle Gardens
3706_0Richard1414072772 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
The lovely wooden door of the Old Post Office

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