River Rapids

Spring Escapes from your bus stop

Catch the River Rapids X40 to Oxford, Wallingford or Reading and enjoy a scenic adventure along the Thames this Spring.

The River Rapids route takes you past characterful villages, bluebell carpeted woodland, and meadowland. En route, you can walk amongst some of the UK’s oldest redwoods, visit absorbing museums, board historic locomotives, and try your hand at boating down the river.

And what’s more with the extension of the £2 fare cap, now is a very good time to explore nearby attractions.

To make planning even easier, here are some of our sightseeing ideas for Spring, all just a bus stop away:

View the River Rapids timetable and route map.

Destination: Wallingford


A small market town in South Oxfordshire, perhaps best known as a well-used filming location for Midsomer Murders and the preserved rural ‘Bunk Line’ railway linking Wallingford with the mainline at Cholsey.

Hop off the X40 at Wallingford Market Place for most attractions.

Cholsey & Wallingford Railway

Cholsey and Wallingford Railway is located just over ten minutes from the Wallingford Market Place bus station. You can board one of their 1950s carriages and travel through the picturesque South Oxfordshire countryside behind one of the historic diesel engines or a visiting steam engine.

Trains operate on weekends and bank holidays, and booking is required.

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Wallingford Museum

Open throughout the year, this family-friendly local museum offers the chance to experience sights and sounds throughout history. Learn about the rich history of Wallingford, spanning from the Saxons and Romans to the Victorian era. The museum hosts regular events and offers guided walks every Saturday during the summer, usually from Easter weekend to the end of September.

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Castle & Gardens

Only a short stroll from the museum are the ruins of a medieval castle that was built on the direct instructions of William the Conqueror.

The attractive Wallingford castle grounds are free of charge to the public and contain the best-preserved sections of the castle. If you climb to the top, you will glimpse views of the Thames. The adjacent castle meadows are also home to some diverse natural habitats and in Spring, an early display of snowdrops around the site of a former Victorian grotto is gradually replaced by a sweeping carpet of bluebells.

Wallingford Museum also offers guided castle walks at a cost of £10 per head.

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Corn Exchange

Visit The Corn Exchange, home to Wallingford's theatre and cinema and where Agatha was patron of the Sinodun Players and regularly visited to watch theatre performances.

It is a bit of a local treasure and offers a broad range of drama, art, music and the latest cinema releases in a friendly, welcoming atmosphere. The Exchange Foyer bar serves evening drinks and coffee and homemade cake on select mornings.

They stage live screenings from other venues, and this Spring they will be screening performances from the Royal Opera House, National Theatre and The Royal Ballet.

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Self-guided Agatha Christie trail

Learn more about the well-known mystery novelist Agatha Christie, who spent more than 40 years living in Wallingford. A five-mile walking route leads you to locations significant to her life, including her residence at Winterbrook House and her ultimate resting place at St. Mary's Church in Cholsey. You can either download the trail map here or visit the Visitor Information Center.

Self-guided Midsummer Murders Trail

Follow in the footsteps of the major characters and discover more about famous filming locations for Midsomer Murders, which was filmed in Wallingford. You can either download the trail map here or visit the Visitor Information Center.

Other walking options in Wallingford

There's lots to explore on foot along the river, amid the ruins, and through the charming old streets, in addition to the Midsummer Murders and Agatha Christie trails. You may pick up walks and trails from the Town Information Center.

River Relaxation

Enjoy a meal in a local pub by the river, a picnic in the meadows, a coffee from one of the many local cafes or hire a boat to explore the river and the Oxfordshire countryside. Hire boats are also available at the Boathouse pub.

Destination: Oxford

Radcliffe camera, OxfordThe bustling heart of Oxfordshire, woven with universities and colleges and a popular spot for films and television shows. Explore the rich history of our city on foot with the Walking Tours, or enjoy a ride on the frequent open top tour buses which run throughout the year.

Hop off the X40 on Oxford’s High Street for the open top bus, university colleges and meadows or hop off at Westgate for Oxford’s Westgate Shopping Centre or Castle.

Open-top bus and walking tours

Oxford has plenty to explore, from the numerous colleges, to the Botanic Gardens, and the riverside meadows. Why not join one of the City Sightseeing Guided Walking Tours, or even hop on the open-top bus tour?

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Theatres in Oxford

Oxford theatres offer a great range of live performances. Whether you’re seeking drama, musicals, comedy, lectures or poetry, Oxford has much to offer. There’s something for everyone!

www.oxfordplayhouse.com  www.sheldonian.ox.ac.uk

Museums in Oxford

From tribal tattoo kits to the only surviving remains of a Dodo, Oxford’s museums offer memorable experiences for people of all interests and ages.
This Spring, take part in some AINU Japanese craft workshops at the Ashmolean, become a climate crusader with Zoolab at the Museum of Oxford, or take the family to the Eggstraordinary Easter Eggventure Family Trail at the Pitt Rivers Museum.

Covered Market

Explore the historic Covered Market just off the High Street with over 50 independent shops, cafes, bars and experiences under one roof. The market also plays host to a diverse schedule of activities from live music to quiz nights, crafty workshops and book talks.

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Oxford Castle Unlocked

Take a guided tour around Oxford Castle and let the characters reveal their fascinating stories entrenched in the building’s 1,000 year history. There are a number of restaurants located in the Oxford Castle Quarter, perfect for lunch or dinner. 

Oxford Castle runs a number of themed events, and this Spring they will be hosting a Victorian Murder Mystery and Dinner as well as inviting children to Adopt a Dragon over the Easter period.

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Carfax Tower

The Carfax Tower is all that remains of the 13th century St. Martins Church. The Church was the official city church of Oxford from 1122. Upon climbing the 99 steps to the top, you can enjoy a beautiful view of Oxford’s skyline.

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Westgate Shopping

Oxford has a lot to offer in terms of shopping and entertainment, with more than 100 shops, an eclectic range of places to eat and drink, a boutique cinema, and activities such as Junkyard Golf and Escape Hunt.

Hop off the X40 just outside the centre. 

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Destination: Reading

Reading Oracle CentreThe largest town in England, an important commercial centre on the confluence of the River Kennet and Thames. With plenty to see, shop and eat, there’s plenty to keep you busy.

Hop off the X40 at Reading Station.

Reading Museum

The museum, suitable for all ages, is located inside the beautiful Victorian Town Hall in the centre of Reading. Visitors get the opportunity to discover Reading the ages and learn about local history. There are regular Saturday tours organised by the museum’s volunteers.

The museum runs a variety of family-friendly events and this Spring they will hosting Make & Take Craft days and a Victorian School Room experience.

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Reading Abbey Quarter

Step inside the Reading Abbey Quarter to learn about its fascinating 900 years of history. Highlights include the impressive standing remains of Reading Abbey, once one of Europe’s once one of Europe's largest royal monasteries. and the burial place of King Henry I.  

There’s also a Grade I listed Gateway overlooking the Forbury Gardens, and a Riverside Museum at Blake's Lock nearby based at two Listed former waterworks buildings, which tells the stories of Reading’s two rivers - the Kennet and the Thames.

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Oracle Shopping Centre

‘Shop ’til you drop’ at the Oracle Shopping Centre, with over 80 stylish shops to choose from.

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Destination: Caversham

Meadows and marinas along the riverbank at Caversham, a bustling community located just across the river from Reading.

Caversham Court Gardens

A walled garden with sweeping terraced lawns leading down to the river Thames. There are many mature specimen trees to be seen including ancient yew, with flower borders and a lavender bank. Many public events are held in the gardens throughout the year, including open air theatre and cinema. There is a small volunteer-run kiosk selling tea, coffee and homemade cake open from mid-March.

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Destination: Dorchester

Dorchester AbbeyA charming, historic small village which sits at the confluence of the River Thame and River Thames Hop off the X40 at Dorchester Bypass, just a 10 minute walk from the village centre.

Dorchester Abbey

One of the finest monastic buildings in Oxfordshire, with a history dating back to AD 635. Features include a 14th century stained-glass Jesse window and one of the best-preserved lead fonts in England. The small but well-regarded museum and tearoom are open from April to September.
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Bishop’s Court Farm

A family-friendly sustainable farm, home to over 60 alpacas as well as a host of horses, pigs, goats and sheep. They provide opportunities for people to interact with some of their newborn lambs and other animals, including lambing open days in the spring and alpaca walks and beekeeping excursions.

The owners recently converted a tractor shed into the Snug, a cosy restaurant and farm shop, which offers a local seasonal menu with options for the little ones.
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Walking in Dorchester

Enjoy a walk around the nearby Wittenham Clumps, the highest point for miles around, and enjoy fabulous views across the Thames.

Just a 30 minute walk from Dorchester’s charming village centre.

Destination: Nuneham Courtney

HarcourtA pretty village located five miles south of Oxford which was used to film Inspector Morse. 

Harcourt Arboretum

Explore over 130 acres of the world’s rare and endangered trees, with some of the oldest redwoods in the UK. A seasonal coffee cart is open at weekends (Easter-Autumn) selling ethical, sustainable, and locally roasted coffee, and there is a shop on site selling woodland-inspired gifts and games for children.

Harcourt Arboretum also hosts an annual seasonal fair on 27th April, in celebration of spring with a wander among the bluebells and a host of woodland crafts.

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Get to any of these amazing places today on the River Rapids X40 from Oxford to Reading. Plan your journey on the Oxford Bus app - it's packed full of timetables, service information and more to make your journey easier and smoother. Download our app today, or take a look at the X40 timetable here on our website.