The location of several (fictional) murders, thanks to Midsomer Murders, as well as the former residence of the Queen of Crime herself, Agatha Christie, Wallingford is nevertheless a friendly, picturesque town. It helps that it is situated by the River Thames, providing nearby scenic walks, and offers several friendly independent shops. There's plenty to explore in Wallingford, just a short bus or drive from Oxford.
You can't go wrong then with a visit to the history-steeped Wallingford Castle Meadows. Running along the banks of the river Thames, the meadow contains the remains of the castle, with fragments of the stonework visible. For even more history it's worth checking out the Wallingford Museum, which chronicles the town's history from the 6th century to the present day, and also offers plenty of information about Agatha Christie.
One of the standout features of Wallingford is the Cholsey-Wallingford Railway. You can ride the rural branch line, first opened in 1866, taking in the surrounding countryside in one of their 1950s coaches. Regular themed open days are organised and the line will often be involved in some of the town's main events, like BunkFest. There is also the Riverside Park and Pools, which offers water-based fun throughout the summer months.
Brightwell Vineyard offers open tours and wine tastings most weekends from June to September, and you can get involved in the annual grape harvest, which takes place every October. Time your visit to Wallingford just right, and you'll be able to browse local produce at regular markets on Fridays and Saturdays.
If you visit one restaurant in Wallingford, you'd be hard-pressed to find one that fits a group's demands quite as successfully as The Old Post Office. With a relaxing ambiance, welcoming staff and a menu that offers everything from brunch to pizza to Sunday roasts, the Post Office is a must visit. For those seeking liquid sustenance, you can't go wrong with The Keep, an exceedingly good ale, gin and wine bar. Also worth a visit, the Waterfront Café is a terrific little eatery that proves exceptionally popular on a warm day thanks to its riverside placement.
For a hot beverage and a maybe even a scrumptious cake there are a couple of options in Wallingford. The Bean & Brew has delicious crêpes, handmade cakes and made-to-order sandwiches, while Ribizli is a modern café that offers a menu that is gluten-free, dairy-free and vegetarian. At Busy Brush they couple baked heaven with paint-your-own pottery and craft workshops suitable for adults and children. Finally you can't miss Catherine's Café, resplendent in yellow and with room to relax upstairs. Maybe you could even treat yourself to a milkshake!
For a more substantial meal there are several options in Wallingford. Offering gorgeous river side views and hearty pub grub is The Boat House. Avanti offers traditional Italian cuisine and a relaxed atmosphere in its intimate setting. And then there is Anokhi, which offering Indian and Bangladeshi dishes you can have in the restuarant or takeaway.
If you want to explore the gorgeous landscape surrounding Wallingford further, there are some good pubs you can visit at the same time. The Red Lion in Cholsey offers home-baked pizzas and pub classics in a welcoming setting, whilst Home Sweet Home in nearby Roke has seasonal and locally-sourced cuisine and a gorgeous pub garden. Lastly The Chequers Inn in Berrick Salome is a 17th century inn with open fires, private dining rooms and a tempting menu of mussels, pies, steaks and pasta.
The Wallingford Carnival has been a fixture for over fifty years and takes places on the third Saturday in June. With a procession that takes place in the town centre, the carnival helps raise money for local charities. Also in June is the younger, but no less musical, Rugfest, Wallingford's very own summer music festival. As well as headlining music sets, the festival has activities for children throughout the weekend.
Wallingford Museum run an annual Agatha Christie Day in celebration of one of the town's most famous former residents, with tours and talks to celebrate the life and works of the author, as well as exploring the appeal of murder mystery literature.
Probably the largest event on the Wallingford calendar is Bunkfest, which takes place over the weekend at the end of August and beginning of September. The event offers three days of live music at the main festival site, as well as in surrounding venues. There are craft fairs, workshops and family-friendly activities, plus silent discos and ceildhs, and the best part is that the majority of music and activities are free.
For more regular entertainment, the Corn Exchange in the centre of town offers regular film screenings as well as productions by the Sinodun Players, who perform classic plays through out the year as well as their annual pantomime.
By car: situated eleven miles outside of Oxford, Wallingford is reached by taking the A4074 past Harcourt Aboretum for 8.2 miles till you reach Wallingford Road. Take the third exit at the roundabout and follow the road past Brightwell Vineyard. This will bring you into the centre of the town.
By bus: the River Rapids X38/39/40 takes roughly 40 minutes from St Aldates to the centre of Wallingford. The bus is fairly frequent, running until late evening with a night bus at weekends.