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Tom Murrell and Family beat the floods on a Bike Ride for Harry

The Murrell Family Bike RideOn the 22nd July we set off from Bisham at 7.30 for Oxford to start the bike ride. Reg driving, Annie and Toby, Tom and I (Julie; Tomís mum), Grandma and Grandad and Holly the dog, all wearing our www.harrymills.co.uk t shirts (including Holly) and with posters over the Landover. Our aim was to set off from Osney Bridge in Oxford. We had maps with where we had arranged designated stops for breakfast, lunch, tea and just to wave to Grandma and Grandad and hand out our flyers at bridges, locks and towns along the Thames path back into Marlow, a distance of 50+ miles.

Cycling in the ThamesWe were expecting the ground to be very wet, due to the heavy rain and flash flooding on Friday. In Oxford we found that the road to Osney Bridge was closed and only local residents allowed through to collect there belongings, so we headed to Donnington Bridge in Oxford and started there, past Iffey Lock onto Sandford Lock. There were puddles along the way but nothing that we couldn't handle. At Sandford we were told that the path was impassable at that point but there was a cycle way that would take us into Abingdon via Radley. The track first went through a foot of water but there was a small walk way so we were able to keep our feet dry, then nice small lanes until a field that was six inches under water. Holly being a bit of a princess refused to wade through so Tom carried her then went back for his bike. Feet are no longer dry. The track eventually took us onto a main road, but that was ok, we were headed for Abingdon and bacon rolls for breakfast. There was a torrent of water passing through the weir at Abingdon Lock, but we got to the town and enjoyed the bacon butties.

The path looked clear at Abingdon so we decided to give it a go. There were lots of people attending their boats, ensuring that they didn't float onto the bank and very soon we were knee deep in water, so we turned back and decided to go by road to Culham. Our next scheduled stop was Clifton Hampden, then onto Dorchester, Shillingford, Benson and Wallingford. By now we had renamed all of the towns ...................On Thames to .................In Thames. When we turned back in Abingdon we also learned that they were expecting a two foot surge to come down the Thames by lunch time.

Tom and HollyIn Wallingford we had another look at the river, the patio of the pub was underwater so we turned back and continued by road, a very long and busy road with lots of hills into Streatley where we stopped at the Bull for a very good Sunday lunch and very friendly people. From there we decided to cross the river and follow either a bridle path to Cold Harbour or if we could pick up the Thames path which we knew was high at that point down to Whitchurch on (in) Thames. This is where we (I) made a big mistake, following a sign that said walkers horses and bikes which petered out to nothing up hills and down dales and into a field with no exit, so we had to turn back and now cut by brambles and stung by nettles we set off up the bridle path to Cold Harbour, where we met some people who directed us by road to Mapledurham. On this leg of the journey we did make up some time and from Mapledurham we touched Reading, and into Caversham Heights. We were no longer following the designated route at all but we were still roughly following the route of the Thames. It was gone 6 o'clock and 40 miles in. From Caversham we just carried on by road into Henley, up and down some horrendous hills, along a very busy road where the car drivers were all in a huge hurry to get somewhere. It was in Henley that I was cut up badly by a car and nearly lost the plot altogether. By now it was just Tom and I. Holly had done the country bits, but running along a busy road is no fun, Reg had taken Grandma, Annie, Toby and Holly back to Bisham and met us again with Grandad in Henley. Marlow Bridge - At LastTom was not going to give up. We looked at the path again in Henley, not a chance so we continued by road and hills, to Aston, up the Hill to the Henley road, down some fantastic hills, where we reached 25 miles an hour, along Shepherds Lane into Hurley. Tom had been ill coming up the Hill from Sonning to Henley but now had a second wind because he could smell home, so now thankfully back onto flat paths we rode into Temple, Bisham and along the road reaching Marlow Bridge at 9 o'clock (ish) and 56 miles later.

 

 

 
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