It has been a busy morning on Cholsey Grange CL. Along with the normal chores of feeding chickens and Perkins the cat it is time to get the mower out and cut the grass. Lynnie spent last night with Lolly so I was alone in the Coachman and need to make sure it is spick and span for her return.
Just then our water pump packs up, this is the second pump that has failed in the last six months so I am getting a bit frustrated. I am assured that it is unusual for these pumps to fail, so the Coachman will be heading back to the dealer for a once over when we return from this trip. Fortunately the very helpful Oxford Caravans are just a short trip up the M40.
So with the pump installed and lunch consumed it is time for me to plan my afternoon walk. Rain is forecast for later this afternoon so waterproofs are packed into the rucksack and off I go. I have no particular route planned, by now I know the area pretty well and so plan to jam about wherever the mood takes me.
I start by heading up the farm track to Ibstone Common, which we cross diagonally to pick up the way-markers for the Chiltern Way. This leads downhill on a narrow chalk path that has been eroded into the hillside. Since I last walked this route work has been done on the path and it is now a bit easier going.
I take the Chiltern Way path, which veers off the main path to the left and descends steeply through the trees to reach a stile and a gate.
Here the Chiltern Way continues heading down alongside a fence, through a gate, across a lane, through another gate and then across another field with sheep in. We noticed the other day, in another field that a number of the sheep were limping and a few are in this flock. I can’t recall seeing so many sheep hobbling about elsewhere so assume it must be something to do with the ground that is causing the problem.
I then cross a tarmac lane and go diagonally down through a field with a gate at the bottom leading along another tarmac lane. Within a short distance we follow the Chiltern Way as it heads off to the left. At a fork in the path we bear right, leaving the Chiltern Way, to follow a footpath wending its way through Blackmoor Wood.
This is pleasant woodland, on one side the saplings have been cleared out and it looks untidy, however, it will soon recover as can be seen from the lower side of the track which is absolutely stunning.
At a junction of paths I have a decision to make and opt to go right. Around this time last year Lynnie and I did a cracking walk that included visiting Aston Rowant Nature Reserve and I now decide to repeat that walk. So within a few hundred yards take the path to the left leading through the woods to meet a lane that heads alongside Christmas Common radio mast.
On reaching the road I turn right and after about 100 yards turn left to join a path that quickly meets the Oxfordshire Way.
Continuing down the path in the same direction I meet the tarmac road at Pyrton Hill House, passing the cattery and sawmill. In about half a mile I arrive at the crossing of the Icknield and Oxfordshire Ways. Here I turn right, this section of the Icknield Way is also shared with the Ridgeway and Swans Way.
When we walked here last August the harvest was just starting, but it is a week later this year and the fields have all been cut. As I walk along the broad path I feel a few drops of rain and within minutes it is pouring down and looks set for the rest of the afternoon.
I am not a fan of walking in waterproofs in warm conditions. I settle for the jacket and leave the trousers in the rucksack in the hope that it will soon stop and my trouser will dry out.
The route along the Icknield Way has taken us towards the M40, about 100 yards short of the motorway I turn right on to a minor road heading towards Hill Farm, when the track turns to the right we continue on a footpath into Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve.
The nature reserve occupies 159 hectares of chalk downs and juniper scrub and is said to be have an abundance of wild flowers, particularly orchids.
The rain is at my back as I head up hill. The anticipated view behind me is shrouded in low cloud. If Lynnie were here she would be stopping to take photographs of the wild flowers.
At the top of the reserve I continue straight on to reach a road. Here I turn left and walk along the verge for about half a mile before taking a footpath on the right that follows behind the crash barriers by the side of the road. The path goes into Hailey Wood and I fork right to head down to Langleygreen Plantation and then on to Wellground Farm. On reaching the tarmac lane I turn right going through the edge of Bowley’s Wood before passing Wormsley Cricket Ground on our right.
At a fork in the path we bear left, initially climbing gradually and then steeply as we rejoin the Chiltern Way to return to Ibstone Common. I retrace my steps across the Common to Cholsey Grange.
Despite the rain this has been a thoroughly enjoyable stroll. My Suunto Traverse has measured the route as 9.5 miles. The next time I do this walk it will be the other way around so that I can get full value of the views whilst descending through Aston Rowant Nature Reserve.
21st August 2016
[To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 171 – Chiltern Hills West]
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2016)