Abingdon, Culham, Clifton Hampden circular walk

Route type: Circular and Linear Walks

This is a 10 mile circular walk that can be started in Abingdon, Culham or Clifton Hampden.   It goes around a large loop of the Thames near Abingdon, using the Thames Path between Abingdon and Clifton Hampden, cutting across country by the Culham Science and Engineering Centre and returning to Abingdon along the Oxfordshire Greenbelt Way beside the river at Andersey island.   

Getting there by public transport: bus to Abingdon or train to Culham station.  Car Parks: by Abingdon Bridge, Culham lock and the Barley Mow pub at Clifton Hampden.

Refreshment: plenty of choice in Abingdon, but elsewhere there is only the Barley Mow pub (very good) and a viilage shop at Clifton Hampden. Two other pubs along the way are now closed (2018).

The route: starting at Abingdon Bridge, take the Thames Path downstream (southwards, turning right if coming out of the town).  After 2 miles, you pass Culham lock. After another 2 1/2 miles, you reach Clifton Bridge.  If going to the Barley Mow, cross over the bridge and enter through its garden.  If you have taken your own picnic, you can walk iunder the bridge into Clifton Wharf, an attractive meadow with places to sit.  The church is worth the short climb to visit and to get a lovely view of the river and bridge. Continuing the circular walk from Clifton Bridge, go up the village street past the shop to the traffic lights. Cross the main road and turn left for 50 yards to a footpath on your right. This path goes behind houses and around two sides of a field.  The path becomes a hard-surfaced track around the edge of the Culham Science and Engineering Centre.  This is where research into nuclear fusion (the Jet Project) has been done.  In the Second World War, an airfield was here.

Follow the boundary of the Centre around to the western side and look for a restricted byway that crosses the railway line on a bridge.  There are 3 miles more to get to Abingdon. It is better not to take the footpath signposted 200 yards before the byway because there are stiles, steep steps and an unsafe crossing on the railway track.  Across the railway bridge, turn right (northwards) to walk beside the railway down to the Thames. At the river bank, turn left and follow the river for about a mile. Then the path turns away from the river for 200 yards before crossing one of the sidestreams of the Thames. This stream, called the Swift Ditch, was the original navigation channel and there are the remains of a lock, one of the first every built on the Thames, where a footbridge crosses the stream.   When the path emerges from a small wood, bear right to get back to the river bank and the path past moored boats to reach Abingdon lock. Here you meet the Thames Path again and Abingdon Bridge is in sight.

Clifton Hampden
Culham Science and Engineering Centre