Usually I run along the Thames towards northeast, the way the River flows. First I get to the other end of Mill Street and turn left, then cross Osney Bridge and, never leaving the banks, head towards Donnington. It is a pleasant enough route, if a bit too popular with cyclists, dog-walkers, and everyone else who enjoys narrow riverside paths. Towards the end, there are University boathouses and more often than not you get to see rowing crews training on the water.
Today, I decided to go against the tradition and head the other way: towards Binsey. That was a most excellent decision.
The first part of the way is at the back of Victorian terraced houses, past their yards that come equipped with gates opening directly onto the riverbank. You get to overhear snippets of conversations floating above the garden walls and to admire the hand-painted ‘No Mooring’ signs. Then the path goes by allotments and Port Meadow, that never-been-ploughed legendary common green with its cows and horses. Past boatyards and Medley Sailing Club, leaving The Perch and the village of Binsey to the west, the route takes you to Godstow Lock.
Unsurprisingly (yet, I was rather surprised), this path is much greener that my preferred alternative: it does not cross the city centre, instead offering views of meadows and the noises produced by grazing sheep. On this occasion, the sheep remained invisible, but I got to meet a lot of bunnies. They sit by the path, concentrating on chewing, and hop into the bushes when anyone approaches. I have to say, they hop into the bushes somewhat half-heartedly, as if that is the custom but they are not really afraid. Some of the bunnies I saw were about the size of my hand. I might have squealed.
Other encounters included swarms of gnats and interrupting a session of the Bird Parliament. Ducks and geese of different persuasions gather by a bank, with some of them on the land and some, in the water, and quack for a determined number of hours. It was nice to see that the wildlife is equally involved in British politics.
Altogether, I love, love, loved this running route. It is the kind that inspires you to see how far you can go.
Current album: Dua Lipa, Dua Lipa
Current book: Mark Millar and Rafael Albuquerque, Huck
Current TV series: Agatha Christie’s Poirot, Series 2 (1990)