Subject: Kelmscott In Winter
Journal: The Times
Date: December 2003
Author: Clive Fewins
The Upper Thames Valley in winter can be a solitary place. Take a walk around the fields surrounding the ‘William Morris’ village of Kelmscott in deepest December and you will experience skies of almost East Anglian proportions in this far south-west corner of Oxfordshire.
Our walk starts along the signposted track beside The Plough Inn, just a few dozen paces along the road from the ‘Old house by the Thames’ that Morris made his home for the last 25 years of his life. At the point where the track meets a field turn sharp left, again following the signs, and head directly towards the River Thames.
Kelmscott Manor – beloved country home
of William Morris.
When you think you have reached the river, take stock. The first channel you reach is not the main river but a relief channel: the Thames proper lies at the end of the next field. You can’t miss it because a new and rather splendid curved footbridge lies ahead.
Do not take the bridge, but follow the towpath along the north side of the main channel, travelling west for about a mile until you reach the neatly-tended Buscot Lock. Cross the river here and walk up to the National Trust-owned Buscot village, and a welcome sight in the form of the village store and tearoom. Here Jan Hall, who took over the enterprise earlier this, year serves teas coffees and home-made soups six days a week (closed the week before Christmas). Walk up to the A417 and proceed to the east until you reach the clearly-marked footpath back to Kelmscott, 1½ miles away across the new footbridge. The walk is about four miles. The going is easy but boots are a must in this low countryside at this time of year. An Ordnance Survey Explorer Sheet 170 is useful but not vital.