Up Around Goring (Walk With Route)

This walk will take you up in the hills on the more gentle side of Goring and Streatley. The mapping starts on the east of the rail bridge but if you’re driving you’ll need to find somewhere to park first – there’s a car park signposted as you head towards the river.

Going anti-clockwise, the route starts with a short stretch by the B4526 but you quickly turn off into Whitehills Green and walk through that small housing development, heading up and to the right as it were, until you spot the footpath at the end of the close.

Further on in the route, in Great Chalk Wood, while the Chiltern Way is marked straight on there’s no marking for the left hand track (paved, going downhill) – but take it anyway. It is a right of way although the gate at the end is locked – but it’s easy enough to clamber over or around. You’re then back on the B4526 for a short stretch but there’s a path high up on the verge that brings you down to road level again in time for the footpath to Elvendon Priory. The rest of the route is pretty straight-forward. It’s about 4.5 miles.

3D view of walk from Goring

About 4.5 miles

View Route Map
Link To GPX File.
About The Route Mapping

Money Talking

On America’s Independence Day, yesterday, I found myself reading a New Yorker article about how the billionaire Koch brothers work to ensure their personal wealth and power, based on fossil fuels, isn’t threatened by any action to combat climate change. In a nutshell, they buy politicians and they buy inaction; and they fund disinformation to keep their particular wheels turning.

The New Yorker

It is as ludicrous to tar all Americans with the same brush as it is any other group of people. And after all, the article is written by an American, published in America: there are plenty of Americans outraged by what’s going on.

That said though, from a ‘rest of the world’ point of view, America as a state, as an entity, is the biggest per capita contributor to climate change, but is doing little to change its ways. America is by no means alone in having home-grown, entrenched, powerful people orchestrating opposition to climate change, but as the world’s most powerful nation, if the world were a sensible place, it would be leading the way in reacting to the threats climate change poses.

Cycling today, taking in Goring, Wallingford, Swyncombe and thereabouts, in suddenly very hot weather that no-one was forecasting even just a few days ago, I found myself wondering about any number of different aspects to that Koch-created reality – about how they sleep at night; about how the people they’re buying-off live with themselves; about how to react to it; about how can ‘the nice guys’ fight ‘the nasty guys’ with as much aggression and force as the nasty guys will muster without themselves turning into nasty guys; and so on.

But the thought that stayed with me the longest today was how far America, in practice, has drifted away from any hopeful, noble founding ideals. Whatever many Americans may feel and wish for, the future legacy of America is very unlikely to be positive. And that’s assuming there are people still around to assess it.

Red poppies, a blue sky and white clouds

An English red, white and blue

Sweating and Moaning

A moan: there are times when the English summer weather is perfectly foul. It rained last night, just a little. Today was warm but not hot. It was humid. It was grey. The clouds were ominous but you could tell they weren’t going to do anything apart from make it feel oppressive. You could cycle, you could walk, you could do both; whatever you did, it was sweaty. Not in the good ‘you know you’re working hard’ way, but in the sticky, uncomfortable way.

And there’s nothing you can do about it, and there’s no point moaning. So, why moan? I was with Charli today and we both complained about it, totally without point. All we were doing was making the obvious explicit. There are times when I despair of the kind of basic, nuts-and-bolts, day-to-day stupidity I’m capable of. It didn’t stop us doing anything. Get on with it and get over it; make the most of it.

And now I’m moaning about moaning. Argh.

An oppressive sky seen from Lardon Chase, Oxon.

A view from Lardon Chase

Floods On High

During a ride that went over the hills from Woolhampton up to Bradfield, down then up again to Upper Basildon, down to Goring and up again to Woodcote, it’s obvious that the warnings about floods being easily possible in coming weeks are all too real. After last night’s rain absolutely everywhere was sodden, no matter how high I was.

A sodden English lane in Autumn.

A sodden English lane in Autumn.

This feels like the classic English autumn of lore but it’s coming after an untypically wet summer. It is all adding up. I’ve know I’ve said it before but it continues to astound me that anyone wants to pretend – to themselves or anyone else – that the climate isn’t changing. Perhaps the most interesting thing is our – collective and individual – reaction to it. Fiddling whilst our world burns? Denial? Bolting doors on empty stables? Human nature is an odd thing.

I’m mindful, too, that the home counties aren’t suffering much (as yet) from the unusual weather patterns. If it’s out of kilter here, it must be far more obvious elsewhere – particularly further west.

Still, for all that, it was a decent enough ride – albeit one that required some making-it-up-as-you-go regarding the route to try and avoid lanes that were likely to be seriously awash with water, mud and grit. Around here, the grit all too often carries flint in it – sharp little slivers of the stuff that will go through anything. Ancient man used flint as a blade; it can be all too obvious why.

It felt like drivers were going out of their way to be considerate too – helpful when, on two wheels, dealing with puddles and pot-holes is that much trickier and that much more important. Thanks, particularly, to the Mick Bicknell lorry near Elvendon Priory and The Light Corporation van near the Bird-in-Hand, outside Sonning Common, and numerous unidentifiable motorists. It is appreciated.

Nature Notes

On the receiving end of good luck again: some drenching showers – including hail – in Reading, while I was riding in the completely dry area bounded by Reading, Nettlebed, Wallingford, Goring, Woodcote and then back in to Caversham … where the roads were wet but nothing was falling out of the sky.

It might have been dry but it was a hard ride today – the legs weren’t working in the autumnal chill. And it is autumn: if the trees still aren’t – in the most part – turning, another sure sign is the appearance of fungi, which seem to be cropping up a fair bit now.

And in other ‘nature notes’ for the day:

  • I’ve long noticed that a lot of common or hedgerow birds don’t fly away if a car goes by (if they’re out of harm’s way), but will be startled into flight if, say, a cyclist or walker nears. When Red Kites first started to become relatively common, they were timid in the face of anything – cars, cyclists, horses, whatever. Over the last several months though, I’m sure they’re starting to behave more like other birds, ignoring motor traffic and only taking to the wing if people not in vehicles are about.
  • On a quiet lane today there was a bit of dry, dead bracken in the road. From a distance I mistook it for a dead young pheasant – as common as dead squirrels this time of year. I guess that amounts to a simple but effective demonstration of the effectiveness of a pheasant’s camouflage (even if it offers them no protection against vehicles).
Fungi on dead wood - another sign of autumn

Damp rotting wood in autumn; perfect for fungi.

Road Kill Has Its Seasons

It’s beginning to feel autumnal now – there was a stiff north-westerly blowing today that had a distinctly cool edge to it. It made for a tougher-than-ideal ride; the colder air is somehow thicker. And, heading out from the Reading area, trying to ride out into a north-westerly means it’s more-or-less uphill from the start. Uphill into a strong wind: not great fun.

But, that said, it was an enjoyable enough 40-odd miles taking in places like Pangbourne, Upper Basildon, Goring and Wallingford. The views from on high, near Aldworth and Westridge Green, were excellent – of a seemingly huge distance. It made me wish I had a very, very high resolution camera and could make a massive print of the resulting photo to show up every detail. A little digital compact isn’t going to cut it.

This is a Horse Chestnut that isn’t dying, despite appearances.

This is a Horse Chestnut that isn’t dying, despite appearances.

I gather that Horse Chestnut trees aren’t native but there are plenty of them around these parts – both ‘gone wild’ and where they’ve been planted, often on the edge of estates. Seeing some of them today, you could be forgiven for thinking they’re turning with the season already but they’re not – it’s the result of ‘leaf miner’ infection. There’s a lot of it about this year, it seems to me. It looks disastrous but I’ve read** that it’s not as bad as it appears.

If seemingly withering Horse Chestnuts aren’t in fact grim, I guess the plethora of dead squirrels and pheasants is also good news if you’re a Red Kite or similar.

I’ve been seeing a lot of road kill lately; perhaps it’s just the time when this year’s young ones are starting to make their own way – or not – in the world. As Tom Waits said, road kill has its seasons, just like anything. ***

Today I disturbed two Kites up near Aldworth attempting to tuck into a pheasant, and another near Woodcote enjoying a bit of squirrel. They’re so ponderous as they fly up I always feel quite guilty for driving them off.

** Forestry Web Site
*** Tom Waits Lyrics