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Back to the Thames

By Bill Nicholls

Kelmscott is a place I had seen on the map and heard about from a friend and also in the middle of a walk I needed to do to log the remaining pillboxes along the Thames so after finally working out how to visit them I set out. The plan was to do my last section in two halves due to not having a partner to help out in the logistics (ie car both ends), it turned out to be the right way. The first part was to walk towards Radcot, then in a couple of weeks go towards Lechlade.
Kelmscott is a small village famous for being the home of William Morris the designer. First place on the list was the St Georges Church SU2499 : St George over the wall by Bill Nicholls which was built around 1190 AD and I might add looked old. After finding a benchmark I was surprised to find the door open (most are locked) and even more surprised to find the place so untouched. What’s more there were wall paintings dating back to the middle ages SU2499 : Detail of the wall painting by Bill Nicholls.
From the church it was off to the river after photographing the old school which was opposite the church SU2499 : The Old School in Kelmscott by Bill Nicholls. You pass the Manor, the home of William Morris, on the way to the Thames and another benchmark which is on the barn. A little way along you pass the first pillbox which is hidden away under a lot of ivy but is accessible and in reasonable condition though tiring to get a photo of, the front is nigh on impossible as a steep bank drops away to a stream in front of it SU2598 : Pillbox front by Bill Nicholls.
Walking on to the Thames I could go left or right but opted for the latter as I could see the next pillbox SU2498 : Back of the pillbox by Bill Nicholls. This one was found in good condition with rusting screws at the base that would have held down the camouflage netting. I then walked back the way I had come to the track in my quest for the third pillbox. This was found along a hedge line back off the river SU2598 : Number three by Bill Nicholls. This was another in good condition though the concrete on the lower ricochet wall was breaking away and getting in you had to watch out for barbed wire dumped there. Looking towards the river you can see the fourth pillbox so walking straight across the field I soon ran foul of flood water in the grass though lucky it was only shallow and I did not get my feet wet.
The pillbox is situated on a bend under a tree which had grown in the intervening years. This again was in good condition though like the others quite messy inside with rubbish. The inside is also suffering from frost damage with the concrete crumbling away showing the rebar SU2799 : Grafton Lock by Bill Nicholls. The pillbox is close to the river undercutting the base making front shots impossible SU2598 : Pallet by the pillbox by Bill Nicholls .
Walking on from here it was off SU2698 : Bend on the Thames by Bill Nicholls to the next pillbox which is a little way before Grafton Lock. This is another very close to the river which goes to show how much the river has eroded over the years SU2698 : River beside it by Bill Nicholls. The pillbox tilts slightly towards the river and inside is a puddle from the recent floods. Again the pillbox is in good condition apart from the usual rubbish.
Grafton lock SU2799 : Grafton Lock by Bill Nicholls is small but well kept like all I have visited along the upper Thames and after a few photos SU2799 : Along Grafton lock by Bill Nicholls I headed off for the last pillbox. This was not so far from Radcot which was round the next couple of bends SU2799 : Further along the Thames by Bill Nicholls. This pillbox was set back off the river SU2799 : Open stretch by Bill Nicholls and in as good condition as the others SU2799 : Looking from the downstream side by Bill Nicholls SU2799 : Downstream to the Thames by Bill Nicholls I had visited though, like all the rest, people had thrown rubbish through the embrasure rather than taken it home. After some photos of the pillbox and the cowslips SU2799 : Cowslips and grass by Bill Nicholls it was off along the Thames path the way I had come, stopping off at Grafton lock to see if there was a benchmark. I asked the keeper who said he had not seen one only to find out when I got home it was behind the gate. Oh well, if I am back again I will find it.
The next time I come back will be to head towards Lechlade and finish off what I set out to do a few years ago and record all the pillboxes along the Thames.SU2598 : Bend in the Thames by Bill Nicholls
There is also be a Geotrip to accompany this blog. LinkExternal link

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Mon, 14 May 2012 at 15:08
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