The Ridgeway – Goring and Streatley: Was it all a dream?




I had spent three days in the unexpectedly lonely and secluded open countryside walking the Ridgeway National Trail when I finally arrived at Goring and Streatley.  Perhaps it was good that after such seclusion I was not jolted straight back into 21st Century industrial estates, shopping malls and housing estates.  Maybe it was a physical effect from all the walking I had done but for me Goring and Streatley was rather like a dream.

Back to the 1950s I go

There is a 1950s film “John and Julie” (see clip here) which I watched as a child and now own on DVD and wandering around these two conjoined towns felt to me like I had woken up back in the time of that film in some ways.  The accents of the locals I met seemed to be that sharply clipped received old BBC English.  I stopped for a cup of tea at the Boathouse at the Swan at Streatley, which overlooks the Thames in a small courtyard garden full of blue flowering rosemary and watched the bees drunkenly feeding whilst I let my tired body return to a state of rest.  After my restorative brew I had a wander around.  I found a quirky antique/charity type shop and spent quite a while just leisurely musing on the eclectic assortment of things humans collect and why we do it.  I spied at least three old Morris Minor cars (testament maybe to the nearby Nuffield Place –  home of the late philanthropist and designer Lord Morris).  I even spotted several ladies in old-style wide-skirted pinafore dresses carrying wicker baskets, containing flowers.    After my seclusion it was a good way to be re-introduced to human contact.  I think I would have struggled had I arrived into a modern industrial town.   There were boats on the river to watch and when I left to resume Day 4 of walking the Ridgeway the next morning, I passed two men wearing old-fashioned hats with rolled-up copies of the Daily Telegraph under their arm  (and just like in old memories the sun shone!)………….. maybe I was SO tired, this was all just a mirage.  But I think not!

Buying provisions on the Ridgeway


One word to fellow walkers looking to buy provisions from shops on the Ridgeway trail – despite a long search I could not buy a bar of soap!  Unfortunately I had left mine behind at the Court Hill Centre and the Youth Hostel did not have any.  The one small Mace in the towns was not well-stocked; there was a very posh expensive pharmacy full of toiletries with names I had only read about in magazines at the hairdressers and they didn’t stock “normal” soap either!   I really had to wait until reaching Watlington on Day 4 to stock up with extra food or provisions for walking the Ridgeway Trail.

Was it all a dream?

Despite the “soap” episode…………….  I absolutely adored Goring and Streatley.  Maybe it was all a dream, but if it was I would like to completely misquote a line from “Brief Encounter”…….. “If it was a dream it certainly WAS a very happy one”  (sic)




For a full index of all my posts on Walking the Ridgeway please click here.

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