After travelling to a new site I always prefer a few days walking from the caravan. I used to be very keen on driving, but these days find being behind the wheel a necessary chore and have dramatically reduced my mileage. So I view any day I do not need to drive as a bonus.
Our walk starts by leaving the site and turning right along the track to pass the Pebbly Hill nursery’s polytunnels and stay with the track as it passes riding stables and then heads downhill to a junction of paths.
Yesterday at this point we turned right but today we go left on the Oxfordshire Way and enter a field with the Westcote Brook to our right.
The clear path take us across a couple of fields and then a footbridge crosses a stream and we follow the Oxfordshire Way as it continues to Bledington. We enter the village by the church of St Leonard, this 15th century church retains part of an earlier 12th century church. Apparently it fell into poor repair in the 19th century so major restoration was undertaken in 1881 and again in 1923.
A little bit further on from the church is the Village Community Shop and Cafe. We are advocates for community ventures and where possible support these local enterprises. In 2007 the Bledington Village Shop closed and this resulted in members of the community seeking to establish a shop where the community has a direct input into its operation. The shop and cafe opened in 2019 and it is an interesting structure with what appears to be a wooden building protected by a barn like roof. We will certainly be getting our provisions here during our stay.
Our route continues to follow the Oxfordshire Way which turns right at the B4450, Old Burford Road, and heads through the village. Where this road bends to the left we continue straight on a minor road signposted to Foscot and Idbury. After crossing the Westcote Brook we follow the Oxfordshire Way as it takes a footpath on the left joining the entrance driveway of Foscote Farm and then goes through a couple of gates to join a wide path. This path is seriously muddy and Lynnie picks her route with care making sure she has the paddock fence as a handrail.
After the initial muddy section the path becomes firmer as it reaches slightly higher ground and then passes besides a copse.
Our route is easy to follow as we stick with the Oxfordshire Way, this 68-mile long distance path crosses Oxfordshire to Henley-on-Thames but strangely it starts in Bourton-on-the-Water in Gloucestershire. The way-markers lead us close to the River Evenlode and then take us through Cocksmoor Copse where we once more encounter a muddy passage.
It is with relief that we reach a tarmac road. Here we turn left, leaving the Oxfordshire Way and joining the route of the D’Arcy Dalton Way. This is a sixty-six mile route between Wormleighton Reservoir and the Ridgeway National Trail at Wayland’s Smithy between Swindon and Wantage. It was created in 1986 to mark the Diamond Jubilee of the Oxfordshire Field Paths Society and takes its name from one of the society’s founders Colonel W P d’Arcy Dalton.
We follow the road through the hamlet of Bruern and then continue on to cross the River Evenlode and a railway crossing. We stay with the road, ignoring a footpath on the right where the D’Arcy Dalton Way leaves the road, and continue on to a junction where we turn right onto the road signposted to Lyneham. There is a wide grass verge which we walk along to the entrance to The Wychwood Golf Club, a few yards past the entrance we take a footpath on the left which goes through metal gates and continues along the driveway of Lyneham Heath Farm.
The footpath leads past the farm buildings and continues on through an equestrian cross country course.
We then reach trees and follow the way-markers to the right and then turn left to head through The Norrells which is an attractive are of woodland with a good covering of bluebells.
Emerging from the trees we cross a field to reach a road where we turn right and head towards Sarsden. In the small village we continue until we reach an old cross, there are reports on the internet that this is a butter cross or market cross and would have been the point where a market was held. It stands at the crossway of ancient tracks and its origins are thought to be 14th century and rebuilt in the 19th century.
At the cross we turn right to follow the D’Arcy Dalton Way as it enters the Sarsden Estate and follow the clear track to reach a lake which was created when the grounds of Sarsden House were landscaped in 1795 by Humphry Repton.
The path continues through farm buildings at Fairgreen Farm and then reaches a crossing of tracks by some ornate gate posts. Here we take a brief diversion and turn left to leave the D’Arcy Dalton Way and follow a path heading east. After passing a plantation I bag the Ordnance Survey trig pillar on Barter Hill, this is my 245th trig.
From the trig we retrace our steps to the ornate gates and turn left to rejoin the D’Arcy Dalton Way. It has once again started pouring with rain and it feels very unlike spring as we are now clad in full waterproofs under a leaden sky.
At a crossing of paths we turn right and follow a track steadily descending towards Lyneham. The rain starts to ease as we near the village, it would appear that we had the worst of the weather when we were on the most exposed part of our walk.
We enter Lyneham at a road junction, here we continue straight on staying with the D’Arcy Dalton Way as it goes through the village and then at a junction turn right and follow a lane until we reach cottages by a gate. We go through the gate and fork left on the D’Arcy Dalton Way to head across Wychwood Golf Club.
The footpath leads across the golf course where you might expect clear way-markers to ensure walkers do not stray from the path, however, we spot very few of them and proceed with caution heading west across the course. Fortunately the wet weather means few golfers are on the course so we do not have to take evasive action.
After crossing the golf course the D’Arcy Dalton Way reaches a road where we turn left towards Bruern. This is the road we walked earlier leaving the village and we retrace our steps across the railway line and River Evenlode and walk through Bruern. Instead of returning back through Cocksmoor Copse we continue along the D’Arcy Dalton Way and stay with this when it takes a footpath to the right and then turns left towards Snow Hill.
After entering a plantation we join a track and head in a south westerly direction towards Fifield. This is another track with muddy sections. Arriving in Fifield we turn left on Church Street and follow this as it makes its way through the village to reach the church of St John the Baptist. This church was built in the 13th century with the tower and porch added in the 14th century.
Continuing along Church Street we reach a junction and turn right to soon reach a crossroads where we continue straight on following the road signposted to Idbury. We follow the road for three quarters of a mile to reach Idbury where we turn right at a T-junction and walk into the village. At a junction by a bus shelter we turn right to visit St Nicholas’ Church.
From the church we retrace our steps through the village to reach the bus shelter and this time continue straight on towards Nether Westcote. In the village we continue to a crossroads and turn right to pass the Methodist chapel and then the Feathered Nest pub. Just after the pub we turn left onto a track which heads steadily downhill.
At a fork in the path, close to a copse, we go left and continue on to cross the Westcote Brook.
We now turn right and walk to a junction of paths and here we turn left to follow the track back to Pebbly Hill Nurseries. Our walk has covered almost seventeen miles and has been tough going in the rain and mud. Lynnie has already decided that she is having a day off walking tomorrow and Crosby and I will be going out on our own.
To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer OL 45 – The Cotswolds
20th May 2021
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2021)
All information on this site is provided free of charge and in good faith and no liability is accepted in respect of damage, loss or injury which might result from it. To the best of my knowledge the routes are entirely on public rights of way or within areas that are open for public access.
Walking can be hazardous and is done entirely at your own risk. It is your responsibility to check your route and navigate using a map and compass.