My wanderings on Saturday took me (and Hubby) by bus to Oxford and by train to Appleford, just the one stop short of Didcot. From Appleford we headed off on foot from the station at about ten thirty in the morning in search of photos.
Of course there’s no need to explain what photos I was looking for, you can see for yourself that my target was that of the power station, a landmark which has either graced, or blotted the landscape of Didcot for over forty years. However, for those of you who aren’t local, maybe I need to explain why.
Pop across to “Didcot decommissioned” and you’ll be able to see the previous photos I’d managed to take of the power station, and in only one of those was steaming away till its hearts content.
Saturday was my last chance to catch a snap of its full glory. The three south towers were due to be levelled in the wee hours of Sunday morning.
Our trek took us street walking at first, in the direction of Sutton Courtney until we were able to cross the river at the Culham bridge and join the Thames Path in a Dorchester direction until we climbed to the top of Wittenham Clump. This, we soon found out wasn’t the prettiest or most interesting stretch of the Thames Path, but it was the part I needed. I’d set myself a challenge, a bit like when I visited a disused colliery at “Pleasley“, or the view I’d tried to capture of the underside of the “Pretty A34” bridge over the Kidlington part of the Oxford canal. I was to find the beauty, or at very least, to create a pretty picture. Saturday was my very last chance to catch the beauty in the picture at Didcot.
I’d failed at a previous challenge I’d set myself along very similar lines. My bus route into Oxford used to take me past a huge rectangular building, an old grain silo, which even I, with my liking of straight lines and old falling down walls, have to admit to thinking it was an eyesore. However, I was under the impression it was a listed building and therefore was in no hurry. How wrong I was… it’s gone!! demolished to make way for the new station on route for the new train line to run from Oxford to Milton Keynes.
My thoughts wander here towards Aj’s “Poolbeg Chimneys“, make the most of your time with them now, you never know when it will be too late.
We followed the route of the river, passing through fields and gates, and gates and fields, and then… our path was blocked by a herd of cows.
I remembered the last time I entered a field belonging to a herd of cows. “Mooo-ooo” I hesitated, and hesitated some more, then a couple of walkers made it past the cows from the other direction without being eaten so I took a deep breath and went (with Hubby on the inside) past the cows before I breathed out again. We made it. On glancing back I caught sight of the chimneys and once again threw caution to the wind in favour of a photo as I skirted back around the cows to catch them in the picture too. That is, until the big black one turned to see what I was up to, then I beat a hasty retreat to the gate at the far end of the field.
No sign of the Chimneys in the next picture, instead you can see the clump of trees on the mound at Wittenham, I’m guessing this is where the mound got the name Wittenham Clump, but no doubt there is a much more deep and meaningful answer to the question of where the name came from.
Personally I like the sleek lines, geometric curves and brick patterns of the cooling towers, but as we wandered along the river, looking across to the other side we were looking into grand houses with landscaped gardens, we stopped at a country pub for lunch and the towers overshadowed the view in the beer garden. A pretty snapshot of a barge or two in front of a pretty bridge, and there were the towers in the back ground again. I can somehow see how they’re considered to be a blot on the landscape, especially if you’re old enough to remember the landscape before they were built.
But just one more thought, I expect some land developer is already rubbing his hands together and drawing up plans of what is to be built on the site when the other towers come down too. A large hotel ? A supermarket ? Sometimes it’s better to settle for the devil we know.
Well, finally we arrived at Wittenham clumps, the bright sun and the heat of a wonderful day settled the towers into a heat-haze in the distance, a sort of soft-focus like they used to use in the old movies to make the heroine always look beautiful.
We stopped for a short while then made our way back along roads and footpaths towards Appleford. A conbine harvester was out in the field making hay while the sun shone, and as we walked by I wondered how much of the following morning’s dust would settle on his field. We finally found ourselves emerging into Appleford from behind the church and walking into the station, approximately ten miles and eight hours after we had left it.
More from before : “Didcot” – Powerful pictures.