We probably ate too much breakfast because the first few miles felt tough - lots of hills, not enough flat! But we were rewarded with spectacular views, especially across to Princes Risborough. At one point, as we entered a wood, Martyn saw a deer - but all I could manage was a grey squirrel! Later we were chased by cows - uphill too. We had lunch at the Crown in Chinnor after 8 miles, really needing a good rest.
The rest of the walk was comparatively easy as it was flat, but the ground was very dry and hard which isn't so good for the feet.
We had some fairly heavy rain as well as plenty of sunshine, but that was during a fairly boring stretch of the walk. We arrived in Watlington at 5pm having walked just over 14 miles, more than we'd ever walked in one day before. Our B&B was several miles away in Chalgrove (Cornerstones) but we were collected by our hostess and were brought back to the Ridgeway the following morning. We walked to the local gourmet pub, the Red Lion, to find they weren't doing food - just bar snacks. Well, the bar snacks were better than many restaurant meals so not a problem.
Day 4: Watlington to Goring on Thames - 14 miles
The weather was beautiful although it cooled down later on. There were a lot of hills, both up and down, for the first third of the walk, but it was very pretty with great views (Didcot Power Station excepted). The only convenient place to stop for a pub lunch was in Nuffield, at the Crown, a little earlier into our walk than we'd have liked and we arrived at 11-40 but the wait was worth it. There was a lovely 11th Century church, St Botolph's, just before Nuffield, and the villages of North and South Stoke were very pretty, as was much of the stretch known as Grimm's Ditch.
The final stretch of the walk took us alongside the Thames into Goring. We prefer to walk more than half the walk before lunch and that may be why we suffered more on this day than the others. The last few miles were very tough. The ground was so hard and my feet were extremely sore (partly caused by blisters, I found out later). But we made it, arriving at Melrose at 5.15. We had arranged an evening meal, for which we were very grateful as we hadn't the energy to go out looking for a pub. Mrs Howarth fed us on roast pork with all the trimmings and apple pie and custard. Superb value at just £5 each, and we enjoyed it immensely. But it wasn't a good night - my feet were so sore and Martyn's knee, on which he'd had surgery a couple of years ago, was swollen and painful. Would we be OK next morning?