Getting Bus-y on the River Rapids Route*

oxford henley bus go ahead river rapids wallingford reading

This post is going to start off with a pretty embarrassing fact about me. Are you ready? WELL, even when I was 18 years old, I used to think that going on a bus was rather exciting. I'm weird, right? Hear me out. I grew up in the very rural Suffolk countryside where our nearest neighbours were about half a mile away - public transport was not something that was even an option because no bus routes really went by our house and the one that did was incredibly unreliable to say the least. Moving to Oxford as a student and having things like buses on the doorstep was an amazing novelty for me and I still get a little childish buzz whenever I get to use public transport. Yes, you can tease me about this and no, I don't care!

For today's post, I've partnered with Go Ahead, who have asked me to share a few destinations that I'd most like to visit (as well as some I've already experienced!) along their brand new River Rapids bus route, which connects Oxford, Henley-on-Thames, Reading, Wallingford, and surrounding areas. Whether you're local to Oxfordshire or if you're just planning a day-trip, there will hopefully be something new for you to discover! Riding the bus is a fantastic way of exploring, public transport is not only an eco-friendly option but the free wifi capabilites of the new Go Ahead buses will ensure that nobody is bored on the journey either! Contactless payment on the bus also means that travel couldn't be easier. So, let's get bus(y) *teehee* with planning a fantastic day out!

🚌 Oxford 🚌

Salter's Steamers Boat Tour
I've already covered plenty of Oxford highlights in my day out post, but an attraction that I never even knew existed before I started planning a trip along the River Rapids route is the Salter's Steamers Boat tours! On a 40 minute boat tour, you can cruise along the Thames river network, taking in the gorgeous scenery of Christchurch meadow, the University boat houses, and Iffley Lock. Oxford is such a busy and hectic city, full of tourists, especially now that the new Westgate shopping centre has opened, so to take some time away from the bustling centre to explore the stunning countryside around the city is something I'm very excited to try out. 

go ahead bus route oxford reading wallingford henley on thames

🚌 Henley-on-Thames 🚌

Virgin Balloon Flights
Something I've wanted to do for the longest time is to do on a balloon flight, and what better place to float over than idyllic rural Oxfordshire? Oxford's skyline is iconic - it is famous as being the city of dreaming spires after all - and seeing it from the sky would be absolutely breathtaking! At £117 per person, it's a pricey trip but you do get a 3 to 4 hour-long experience and a champagne toast after landing, so for a once in a lifetime experience, I would probably stretch to this amount! You can also purchase special gift packages so you can experience a sunrise from the sky, which would be just incredible!

River and Rowing Museum
Aside from being renowned as a place of learning, Oxford is also well known for its annual boat race against bitter rivals Cambridge, so it would only be right to take a pit-stop at the River and Rowing Museum in Henley during a journey along the River Rapids route! The Museum doesn't only commemorate waterborne history but also showcases work from influential 20th century artists and brings to life the classic tale of The Wind in the Willows through a music and light show. Plenty for adults and children alike to enjoy!

🚌 Reading 🚌

Go-Karting at TeamSport, Reading
If you have a need for speed, you can unleash your inner Formula One driver at this state of the art indoor go-karting track! The track is split across two levels so you speed up and down various ramps, battling with other karters for ultimate speed supremacy! Full safety training is provided and thanks to the electronic timing system, you'll receive a printout at the end of your session so that you can track your lap times and compete against the others on the leaderboard! You can hire the necessary helmets, race suits etc. so that even if you don't have any of the kit, you can still join in. I've been to TeamSport a couple of times and absolutely loved it, it's a total thrill and a real adrenaline rush!

Silchester Roman Town Walls and Amphitheater
Everyone should know by now that I am a massive history nerd, and as I studied Ancient Greek and Roman archaeology for my degree, visiting the Roman remains around Reading would be an essential stop along the River Rapids Route for me! The amphitheater was constructed between 50-80 AD, and it seated up to 9,000 occupants of Roman Silchester, which was a major settlement after the invasion of AD 43. It is hard to tell what kinds of activities originally took place in this amphitheatre but blood sports such as gladiatorial combats were common in amphitheatres across the Empire - think back to watching Russell Crowe fighting it out in the arena if you need a visual illustration!

go ahead buses oxford oxfordshire river rapids

🚌 Wallingford 🚌

Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary
If you love cute and fluffy animals (and why wouldn't you?!), the ideal stop-off along the River Rapids route for you will be in Wallingford at the Island Farm Donkey Sanctuary. The Sanctuary rescues abused and ill treated animals who haven't had the best starts in life, giving them a forever home in the Oxfordshire countryside. Entry to the Sanctuary is free but they do ask for donations, which you can guarantee will be going to a good cause. You can also sponsor a donkey on the day, and even arrange a special meeting with the donkey you adopt! If that wasn't enough, the Sanctuary host flea markets and craft fairs too! I definitely want to stop by to meet Lucas, a recently arrived foal who looks so precious!

Wallingford Museum
If you're an Agatha Christie fan, Wallingford Museum is a must-see for you! The queen of crime novels lived in Wallingford for 40 years up until her death, and the Museum commemorates her life and work with a small exhibition including photographs of her in Wallingford and letters written by her own hand. This isn't all that the Museum has to offer though, as they also exhibit local prehistoric and Roman archaeological finds. A reconstructed Victorian street allows you to walk through an era in history!

The Keep 
Now, after all this exploring, it's only natural that you're going to need a sit down with a gin or three, right? Wallingford has got you covered again though with The Keep, an independent ale house and wine bar with a fantastic local reputation. The cool and quirky decor makes for a really welcoming vibe and the gin cocktails will definitely have you wanting to go back for more! Make sure you make time for one of The Keep's gin and jazz evenings because you certainly won't be disappointed.

To celebrate the launch of the River Rapids Route, Go Ahead are also offering a series of fantastic prizes which include free days out at many of the attractions I've talked about above, so make sure you head over to their website and enter the competition to be in with a chance of winning! You can also find the route timetable on the Go Ahead site.

Where are your favourite places for a day out in your local area? Let me know in the comments!

Until next time,

A x

*This post was sponsored by Go Ahead