We continue to be battered by heavy rainfall so the caravan site remains very boggy. The brief appearance of the sun yesterday evening led us to hope things would start to improve but more rain overnight means we are squelching about again. At the end of our walk yesterday Lynnie said she had no intention of wading through mud today and the further downfall has reaffirmed her position. So it is just Crosby and I heading out.
Our walk starts on the now familiar route of 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.
At a junction of paths I turn left to join the Oxfordshire Way and enter a field with the Westcote Brook to my right. After a short spell beside the brook the path heads across a field, the overnight rain has made this even muddier than it was yesterday.
After crossing a footbridge over a stream I follow the Oxfordshire Way as it continues to Bledington. I enter the village and pass St Leonard’s Church and then turn left into Church Street and walk through the village.
I continue on Church Lane until I reach a junction where I turn left to walk beside the B4450 signposted to Stow-on-the-Wold. Across the village green is the Kings Head pub. In normal circumstances we would visit the local pub during our stay in the area, but since the start of the Covid pandemic we have been avoiding pubs unless we can sit outside and given the weather this week I doubt it will stay dry long enough for me to sup a pint in the garden.
My route now follows the broad verge besides the B4450 until I reach the last house in the village on the right hand side. Here I take a footpath along a track and I congratulate myself on picking this route because it is firm under foot.
The track takes me over the route of the dismantled Banbury to Cheltenham Direct Railway which fully opened in 1887. It provided a rural train service but also carried iron ore from the East Midlands to South Wales. Passenger trains stopped in 1962 and the railway closed altogether in 1964.
The fields alongside the track are flooded, with so much water about it is difficult to believe it is almost the end of May.
Continuing along the track it becomes less well maintained and heavily rutted and I realise I was premature in thinking this would not be a muddy route.
The track bends to the right and soon after to the left. Staying with this main track I ignore footpaths off to the right and left. The route takes me to a gate on the edge of woodland, there is a serious amount of water laying here and I carefully pick my way to join the footpath as it turns to the left to go along the edge of the woodland.
After a very muddy section the track turns to the right to continue along a clear path on the edge of the trees of Lower Oddington Ashes.
At a junction of paths I take the route waymarked to Lower Oddington and Daylesford. I am aware that the Cotswolds is an affluent area but had not appreciated that this would extend to very smart way-markers on footpaths.
The track I am now on is well made and it is a lot easier going than the mud I have been tramping through for the last few miles. I continue towards Lower Oddington beside the woodland of Lower Oddington Ashes and then nearing the village pass St Nicholas’ Church. There is a funeral service in progress at this old Norman Church so I will return another day with Lynnie.
The track becomes a tarmac lane before entering the village of Lower Oddington. At a road junction I turn left through the village to pass the church of the Holy Ascension which was built in 1852.
Soon after passing the church I reach a junction and carry straight on towards Upper Oddington. There is a pavement besides the road connecting the two villages. In Upper Oddington I stick with the road and ascend through the village passing the Horse and Groom pub. Like most of the pubs I have seen since arriving in the Cotswolds this looks to be another “Gastro Pub”, fine if you like that sort of thing but not to my taste.
Just after leaving the village I take a footpath on the right following the Macmillan Way.
This narrow path heads downhill to a field and then goes diagonally uphill across the field on the route of the Macmillan Way as it heads towards a junction of paths and then goes left to a covered reservoir.
The path leads me through bushes and emerges on the grounds of Stow-on-the-Wold Rugby Club, heading towards the clubhouse I pass what appear to be newly created caravan pitches.
I follow the way-markers past the clubhouse and continue on the southern edge of the grounds to join a path which soon goes beside paddocks. Over the hedge to my right is Millay Tower. This is a former sawmill built in1307 and is believed to have been used by the monks of Maugersbury. It has now been converted into a flash home which has recently been on the market for £2m.
The path heads south to reach the B4450 where I turn right heading towards Stow-in-the-Wold. Just as this road joins the A436 I take a minor road on the left which leads towards Maugersbury.
In this attractive Cotswold village I turn left at a junction and follow the road steadily downhill to reach a lane leading towards Oxleaze Farm. Before taking the lane I walk a few yards further on to have a look at Half Moon House, this was formerly known as The Crescent, and is a former estate school and four adjoining cottages built in the 1800’s. It is now a single dwelling.
I return to the lane and head downhill to reach the parapets of a bridge on the dismantled Banbury to Cheltenham Direct Railway.
The footpath continues along the track to pass the farm buildings of Oxleaze Farm and then continues up to Maugersbury Hill. On a clear day there would be extensive views from here.
The track joins a road and I continue straight on heading towards Icomb.
Nearing the outskirts of Icomb I turn right at a junction just past a disused quarry and follow the road for a few hundred yards to another junction. Here I turn left and pass a memorial bench to follow the road downhill into Icomb and continue through the village to reach the church of St Mary. Parts of the church date back to the 12th and 13th centuries with the tower being added around 1600.
From the church I continue along a track leading towards Middle Farm. This heads downhill to reach a footpath on the left, here I leave the track and cross a stream to continue heading east across fields. After going through gates the path runs beside a field and then alongside the wall of Lower Farm. The route is clearly marked and carries on across further fields to reach a pleasant meadow.
After going through a further field the pathway arrives beside the gate of Pebbly Hill Nurseries CL. I have been fortunate with the weather on this ten mile walk with only the odd shower, however, the extreme muddiness on the section between Bleddington and Lower Oddington proved challenging. Perhaps Lynnie made a good choice.
To follow my walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer OL 45 – The Cotswolds
21st May 2021
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2021)
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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.