Paddling the Thames: Day 3

Abbingdon to around Mapledurham

Gmaps route: 25.3 miles

Setting off on Day Three!Day three and still no sign of cream tea for breakfast or ice cream as a treat. Despite the rude awakening of the fire alarm in the night and not hearing our alarm but being awakened by breakfast at our door, we woke up fairly refreshed. Sore and stiff, but refreshed none-the-less. We set out bright eyed and bushy tailed, as we paddled through and out of Abbingdon, church bells were ringing from the towers. The river is well into being an actual river in size at this point. Still, no real help from the current.

Moulsford Railway BridgeWe were not nearly as delirious today. Well fed and well rested we were able to make good progress without getting too tired through the first part of the day. We paddled along and passed through our first big city, Oxford, the river became considerably busier today. We passed by where the two rivers Isis and Thame come together to form the Thames (around mile 59) without noticing the other river. I’m not sure how we missed it, we were looking for it to merge on the left. It was one of the landmarks to look for.

We marked our miles by setting mini-goals to look forward too. 2.5 miles to the next lock, 4 miles to the next bridge, 3 miles to the next landmark. This was important on the small scale, not looking or thinking too far forward. It made us feel like we were making progress. Frequently we would again state the obvious, “What mile does this Whitechurch lock mark?” I’d ask for the sixth time, “we’re at 73 miles,” Mark would say, I would then repeat matter-of-factly as if this was surprising new news, “Do you realize we’ve paddled 73 miles so far!”

Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)It seemed for awhile that we had started to work the kinks out of our muscles and joints. But, taking a break seemed to only make paddling harder, restarting became harder. I did reach a breaking point today, I think it was before we stopped for dinner, possibly after. The sun was intense today, even with sun screen we are both thoroughly sunburned. The air temperature was nice, but the direct sun wore on us, not too mention the indirect light reflecting back up at us from the water surface. I just needed to stop, but in interest of continuing to make progress, I just sort of laid down in the canoe, leaning back over our gear behind me, while Mark continued paddling. Mark checked up on me, wanting to know where I was mentally, we could abort, stop at the next lock and call it a trip well done. But I was still optimistic that we could and would make it the entire one hundred miles. I just needed this little break, staring at the wisps of clouds and contrails in the clear blue skies above.

We found a nice little secluded nook in sight of the Mapledurham lock to set up camp for the night, and managed to do so at a reasonable hour. Even with our bright yellow little tent you would have been hard pressed to see us. We sat up along the side of the river for a bit, basking in the full moon light that was casting sharp shadows. We both slept well, even for sleeping in a tent, even with as chilly as it did get over night.