Take a walk on the wildlife side on this Oxfordshire riverside route
Spring has now officially sprung in Oxfordshire and with it come buds, blooms, birds and blue skies.
There’s many places you can visit in the county to see some original and inspiring sights and, if you want to take a more structured wander through Oxfordshire, the Thames Path National Trail could be the answer.
The greatest river in England
The Thames Trail follows the greatest river in England for 184 miles from its source in the Cotswold hills to the sea. Passing through peaceful water meadows, unspoilt rural villages, historical towns and cities, and finally through the heart of London to end at the Thames Barrier in Greenwich.
A large proportion of the trail goes through Oxfordshire from the most rural West Oxfordshire, through the busy city of Oxford via historic Wallingford to the home of the renowned regatta in Henley-on-Thames.
Life and colour emerge
At this time of year you will start to see new life and new colour emerge as Steven Tabbitt, Thames Trail manager, explains: “The winter flood waters have subsided now which bring nutrient rich silt which helps the wild flowers to bloom on the unspoilt water meadows of Oxfordshire and beyond.
“If you are very lucky you may also see an otter or water vole on the river too. Both are very shy in the wild but it’s not unheard of to see, also listen out for the piping sounds of the kingfisher as they become more active and are easier to spot their iridescent blue flashes as they dart along the river looking for suitable nesting sites and diving into the river for fish.
“May is just round the corner and that is a good time to see the Mayflies rising out of the river which also heralds the return of Terns who travel up the Thames.
“Even in the city of Oxford the Thames brings its own wildlife and right now you will see ducklings and signets starting out their lives.”
Carving a gap through the Chiltern hills
The Thames Trail path continues on to the Vale of White Horse area, it carves a gap through the Chiltern hills near Goring until finally exiting Oxfordshire in Henley-on-Thames.
“With a total of 68 miles of Thames Path National Trail in Oxfordshire, it has the largest river frontage of any other county, with it passing through all of Oxfordshire’s Countys Districts, there really is lots to see and do all along its route, and we have a fantastic volunteer hub within Oxfordshire’s reaches. If you enjoy the trail – come and volunteer with us to help maintain and keep it open!
“And if nature isn’t your thing then you may be interested in the various pubs and restaurants that are dotted along the route. Even if your walk only takes you as far as the nearest beer garden it’s still worthwhile!”
The Thames Path Partnership is made up of all the Highway Authorities and other organisations and user groups with a vested interest in the Trail such as The River Thames Society, The Ramblers, Cycling UK through to Transport for London and the Port of London Authority, arguably the most important member of the Partnership is Oxfordshire County Council who as the host authority provides an excellent base to manage the trail from as well as other support services and further opportunities for partnership working.
To find out more about the Thames Path visit: https://www.nationaltrail.co.uk/thames-path