Wallingford is an ancient market town, founded in the 10th century by Alfred the Great. Equidistant from the world renowned university city of Oxford and the rowing capital of Henley-on-Thames, Wallingford is charmingly laid back with its picturesque market square, castle ruins and independent shopping streets. Have a delicious meal or order a hamper from The Boathouse or stroll into town and grab a tasty picnic from Salvador’s Deli or a spit roasted chicken from the town’s big Waitrose supermarket, have a swim at the open air Lido and make a day of it. If you are on foot or riding a bike then explore the Thames path before jumping aboard one of our environmentally friendly electric self-drive hire boats.
Leaving our site at The Boathouse, cruise under the arches of the historic bridge and head downstream towards Goring and Streatley. Enjoy the 5 miles of peaceful countryside before reaching Cleeve Lock. Have a picnic by the river or book a table with Rossini at the Leatherne Bottel on the left bank or at the Beetle and Wedge on the right. At river speed it will take you two relaxing hours to reach the lock and return. If you are planning to picnic or to dine then you will need to book at least a four hour slot with us. The riverside scene is a charming mix of beautiful riparian houses and gardens interspersed with stretches of deserted farmland where cows lazily chew the cud and red kites wheel overhead.
As you leave our site at The Boathouse and turn to the left you will be going upstream leaving the bridge behind you. You will pass the ruins of the old Wallingford Castle which formed part of the largest Saxon fortified town in England – its ramparts include part of the Saxon town walls. William the Conqueror and his army crossed the Thames at Wallingford in 1066 and ordered the building of the castle. Over the next six centuries it dominated the Thames Valley, standing firm through two civil wars and several royal intrigues! Today we mainly see its massive earthworks and can just imagine it receiving many of the mediaeval monarchs of the realm.
Beyond the castle you will quickly come to Benson lock (a rise of 1.9m). Moor up as you wait to be asked to enter the lock by the keeper. Put your ropes round the bollards so they can run freely as the boat rises or falls depending on whether you are going upstream as you leave Wallingford, or returning on the home journey and heading back downstream. Do not let your ropes trail in the water.
Once through the lock you will see the lively marina with its wooden lodges and the popular Waterside Bistro on the right. You can tie up for a cuppa or continue upstream meandering past picturesque boat houses as you make for Shillingford and eventually Dorchester. To reach the next lock at Days Lock (1.6m rise) below the Wittenham Clumps, will take a good hour so no further lock passages please unless you have a half day or a full day’s booking.
Dorchester is well worth a visit if you are out for a full day. Moor up near Day’s Lock and take the footpath into this charming village with its imposing Abbey. Dorchester was once on the main road between Wallingford and Oxford and has several good watering holes while the Abbey tells of Saxon knights on daring crusades. Crossing the lock on foot enables you to climb to the top of the Clumps on the left bank to see the river snaking into the distance and Oxfordshire spread out before you.
Beyond Days lock is Clifton lock (1m rise) just beyond the pretty village of Clifton Hampden with watering holes at The Plough and Barley Mow
Downstream from The Boathouse (ie under and through the bridge) takes you to a long stretch of Thames through an area of outstanding natural beauty. Remember it takes longer to return upstream than down depending on the strength of the stream.
A 5 mile cruise will bring you to Cleeve lock (a fall of only 0.9m) and then Goring lock (1.8m) shortly after. You will pass the Beetle and Wedge on your right and Ye Olde Leatherne Bottel on your left)
Goring and Streatley are two villages joined by two bridges over the River Thames. Goring has the shops, including fabulous Deli named the Goring Grocer, a proper butcher and several tea shops one of which is Pierreponts, adjacent to the river and opposite what was once the home of pop idol George Michael. There are a number of excellent pubs one of which has good accommodation – the Miller of Mansfield. If you fancy staying a night or two, you should! Walk the Thames path or climb the Berkshire Downs. Nearby you will find the National Trust property Basildon Park where Pride and Prejudice was filmed.
Goring, Streatley, Pangbourne, Wallingford and Henley On Thames have all featured as locations in Midsomer Murders with Inspector Barnaby investigating Causton’s less attractive murder scene!
Agatha Christie is buried in nearby Cholsey, herself inspired by the local villages and the River Thames, while a short distance away Inspector Morse drove his Jaguar around Oxfordshire in search of nefarious villains.
- Visit South Oxfordshire
- Rossini at the Leatherne Bottel
- Beetle and Wedge
- The Swan at Streatley
- Pierreponts in Goring
- The Goring Grocer
- Beale Park (wildlife park and gardens) with free moorings on the towpath. You would need a full day on the river in order to arrive at the park and to enjoy a few hours on site.
- Wallingford Lido (Run by Better)
- The Boathouse pub (Greene King) Wallingford
- Salvador’s Deli