We had thunder storms all night and awoke to grey skies. Richard and Kim, owners of The Swan were very sympathetic and kind hosts who seem to understand hikers and their needs. In the morning Richard took us to the trailhead so we wouldn’t need to cross the wet fields and shorten our walking about a mile. As we got there, John and Ken walked up and we stroll along together for several miles. It started to rain and we all donned our rain gear, which made carrying the weight worth while.
We walked with them until we reached the approximate half way mark—Overton Hill to Ivinghoe Beacon. It felt good knowing that I had only 44 miles to go, and the end seemed doable, even with my hobbling.
John and Ken were faster walkers and they resumed their normal pace.
We entered Streatley and crossed the Thames in Goring-on-Thames, the river is not very wide at this point. A party boat was moored near a restaurant and yachts and more modest boats were in the marina.
We went in search of the ATM indicated on our map. To our disappointment it was not functioning. In these remote areas on the Ridgeway, there are few opportunities to get cash out of the “holes-in-the-wall,” as the British call them.
After a quick snack, we walked in pastures along the Thames. They were sopping with the night’s rains and full of cow plops so we had to tread cautiously. In spite of this, it was scenic with swans and geese swimming in the water. On the other side there were houseboats, large homes, and recreation areas. I heard my first coo-coo bird and understand why it was chosen to mark time.
We passed through South Stoke and then the more affluent North Stoke. There we rested on a bench in the church yard before continuing on. Both of us have tired feet. We have been walking long distances and have not acquired our “hiker legs”. By the time we do, we will be on our way home.
At the intersection of the Swan Path and Ridgeway path, we called May’s Farm and B & B in Ewelme (a town that is no more than a spot on the map) for directions. The proprietor Sue was at a school reunion, so her husband gave us directions. “Not far. Take a path on the left, and then go through the field.” “Not far” turned out to be a couple of miles. Allistar is not a hiker and confused where we were.
The Ridgeway Path became a narrow single track barely wide enough for a bicycle. Since it was “not far” we took the wrong turn and went through another farmer’s field (luckily we weren’t shot for trespassing.)
We stopped to ask directions, but people were not aware of the B&B in Ewelme. At Oakley Court (the map listed Turner Court; the name changed about 10 years ago) Dennis called for better directions.
Our room was bright with windows opening to gorgeous views. After 18 miles, we welcomed the hot showers. Allistar took us to the King Williams Pub for supper. Since we had no reservations, we had to sit on picnic tables near a sheep pasture. It was idyllic, but cold. I waited in the alcove for our host to fetch us. Sleep came easily.