Fawley and Stonor Park

Last year whilst staying at Cholsey Grange CL I did an interesting walk from the site which took me to the deepest well in the Chiltern Hills in the village of Fawley.  When Lynnie saw the pictures she asked if we could do the walk together this year.  So today we are heading off to Fawley, we will vary the route so we can go through Stonor Park, a place I have previously walked  but Lynnie has not visited.

We leave Cholsey Grange via the entrance drive to Ibstone Common.  We cross the road and join Gray’s Lane and follow this minor road past the Cricket Pavilion and  continuing along the lane besides the common.  Reaching a house on the left we take a footpath that descends steeply into woods  to follow the well-worn track through the trees.

We ignore footpaths off to the left and stay with the path until it reaches Ibstone Church where we head through the graveyard to the church car park.  

From the car park we turn right to head downhill on a minor road and then take a footpath on the left along a clear path on the edge of woodland.  We ignore a footpath on the left and then within a few hundred yards take a right and follow the path between a fence line and woods.  The path sweeps to the right still following a fence line to reach a kissing gate

Through the gate the clear path heads steadily downhill through trees and bushes to reach a gate on the edge of Access Land. We turn to the right and walk a short distance to another gate leading to a clear path across a field towards Turville.

On reaching the road in the village we turn left and pass the village church to turn right on a lane between cottages.  This lane soon becomes a track and we ignore a path on the left and then one on the right before taking a way-marked footpath on the left cutting diagonally across a field.

On reaching a tarmac lane, Dolesden Lane, we turn right and walk along it for a few hundred yards and then as it sweeps to the right continue straight on to follow a broad track through the base of Poynatts Wood.

The footpath continues on through Kimble Wood and on reaching a crossing of paths we turn left and head uphill to cross a field to reach a minor road.

We carry straight on to follow a country lane signposted to Fawley and Henley.  As we near Fawley we pass the site of the now permanently closed Walnut Tree Inn.  The pub was opened in the early 1960’s by the local brewing company Brakspears but closed in 2003 and now stands in a poor state of repair.  The local villagers have fought a long campaign to get the pub re-opened; sadly it still looks like there is a long way to go.

We stay on the lane to reach Fawley Green where there are some convenient benches to stop for lunch.  At the east side of the green is the Victorian village well, it is said to be one of the deepest wells in the Chilterns.  I have read from two separate sources that this well is either 397 feet or 338 feet deep.  Quite deep, having lived close to Salisbury Cathedral for most of my life I judge height and depth against the Cathedral Spire, which as I was taught in school is 404 feet tall.

From the well we go to the west side of the Green and continue on the lane through the village, soon passing the village hall.  A bit further along we come to St Mary’s Church with its attractive flint exterior.  Apparently parts of the church date back to the 12th century, but the tower was added in the 16th century and chancel rebuilt in 1748.  Further restoration work was carried out in the early 1880’s.

In the churchyard are two large mausoleums.  One apparently dates from 1750 and was constructed as a family tomb by James Freeman of Fawley Court.

The second is housed behind an iron fence and was apparently built out of Aberdeen granite in 1862 by the Mackenzies also of Fawley Court.

From the churchyard we turn right leaving the village on Dobson’s Lane, at a footpath sign on the right we turn into a farm driveway and take a path heading by some life size models of cows. 

Entering a field the path goes diagonally to a stile, I point out to Lynnie that in the fence line there is an Ordnance Survey trig point.  I have previously “bagged” it and Lynnie is content to claim a “bag” from a couple of hundred yards away.

From the stile we head steadily downhill across a field and into woodland.  The path descends through the trees and continues on to reach a minor road.  We head downhill into Fawley Bottom and turn right and then at a fork in the road by an attractive cottage go left.

This road leads through woodland before heading steadily uphill to pass the entrance to Coxlease Farm and then as the road sweeps to the right we take a bridleway on the left heading towards Stonor.  At a junction of paths we continue straight on into Almshill Wood and follow the path as it descends steadily through the trees.

On meeting a road we turn right and follow it through the village to reach the entrance to Stonor Park.  Here we go through the tall kissing gates on the right and enter the deer park.  The ascending path is now following the route of the Shakespeare’s Way.

Soon there is a fine view of Stonor House, according to the website for the estate this house and surrounding parkland has been in the Stonor family for over 850 years. Apparently the house was built on the site of the remains of a prehistoric stone circle.  Beside the house is a 12th century chapel, which is said to incorporate one of the stones from this circle.

The path now enters trees again as it goes through Kildridge Wood towards Southend.  On reaching a minor road we turn left and then by Southend Common take a lane on the right towards Southend Farm.  Continuing along the track we pass through paddocks and then a gate to follow the track into woodland emerging on the far side to get a good view of Cobstone Mill in the distance.  Since our visit last year it appears to have lost it’s sails apparently they were lost in a storm in February during storm Ciara.

After crossing a minor road we continue along the Chiltern Way to reach Turville.  In the village we take a footpath opposite the green to reach a gate, we go through and turn right immediately to go through a kissing gate and follow a path across a field below Cobstone Mill. 

After going through another kissing gate we join a path going through trees to reach a minor road which we cross and continue to a junction of paths.  Here we keep heading north on an attractive path through the edge of Mill Hanging Wood.

At a junction of paths we turn right and head downhill to reach a path in the bottom of the valley.  Here we turn left and stay on this track, ignoring paths to the left and right until we reach a clearing in Twigside Bottom.  Here we turn left and follow the footpath back uphill towards Cholsey Grange. 

This has been a cracking fourteen and a half mile walk.  Although I have walked all the paths before it is the first time I have done this route and for much of the way it was new ground for Lynnie.

You can view this 14.5 mile walk on OS Maps and download the GPX File Here {Subscription to OS Maps Required)

To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 171 – Chiltern Hills West

20th August 2020

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2020)

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