Thursday 24th August
Abingdon 0733 0803 0820 35 35 35 0810 0840 0900 Oxford SA Oxford MS Stop C2 0845 0925 20A 20A 0924 Charlbury The Bell opp Charlbury The Bell opp 0930 20A 0941 1008 Green Prospect Cl EBd WBd Stonesfield
Kirtlington School o/s SchHol 1525 1551 1626 1731 1831 25 25A 25A 25 25A 1552 1618 1652 1757 1858 Oxford GG Oxford SA 1615 1630 1715 1815 1915 35 35 35 35 35 1645 1700 1745 1845 1945 Abingdon
Today's route (with distances in miles):
Although there was a slightly wet start to the day, there was no rain today whilst I was walking: cloudy with sunny periods and quite windy.
As there was only 8M to be done today, I had a late start (0820 from Abingdon) dropping in at Sainsburys in Magdalen Street (Oxford) to get some lunch.
Today's walking starts in Stonesfield. Almost immediately, the route drops down to a ford across the River Evenlode. Use the link to the photos (above) to see a photo of the bridge across the Evenlode.
The book says that this is the place for a rest or a picnic. Not for me, as this was only 0.25M from the start. Instead of crossing the bridge, the walk goes along the line of a Roman road. This is Akeman Street.
The route uses Akeman Street for 6M. And so it is virtually straight for the next 3 hours. Which makes navigating very easy. The 4th photo shows the sort of terrain I was walking through.
Later on (as shown in the 6th photo), the route uses some steps across the boundary wall of Blenheim Park to get into the Park. I've not been to the Park before, and I guess you have to pay, and so this felt I was doing something naughty, cheating.
The walk through the Park is through short areas of wood and across grasslands where sheep are grazing. The 8th and 9th photos show the view backwards and forwards. To the south there is a glimpse of ithe Column of Victory and Blenheim Palace as the 10th photo shows.
The book describes the exit from the park as left through the trees to the huge Wootton Door set in Blenheim Park Wall. The door is open (see photo) when I get there.
And it's then across the busy A44, and a little later the route crosses the River Glyme (see photo). The section of the Oxfordshire Way from the A44 across the Glyme to the B4027 is uninsipring as it's a long section of tarmac (see photo).
Later, having returned to a footpath, the Oxfordshire Way crosses Dornford Lane, an ancient green lane, coming into existence around 1100. The book also says that eventually you come to another crossing with a green lane, Slough Lane. This little green crossroads is a good sheltered spot for a rest and a snack.
As it sounded like the place to aim for for a picnic lunch, this is where I sat down and had my lunch. Only £5.33 today. And Sainsburys had provided a chicken and bacon pasta salad, a pork pie, a fruit salad and orange juice. Nearby a tractor was ploughing a field (see photo).
Although I started the walk thinking there was no pub en-route (and hence the reason for the picnic lunch), whilst walking I looked at the maps again, and there is a pub about 3 minutes from my picnic spot. The pub is the Sturdy Castle. The service was poor and the atmosphere was cold. I had a pint of Hooky bitter which wasn't that great but maybe it was because I didn't like the place.
After the pint (1325 hrs), there was just a little more of Akeman Street to do (see photo). There's also a photo of the route passing through a bed of stinging nettles.
And then the route leaves the Roman road first to cross the River Cherwell (see photo) and then the Oxford Canal (see final photo). This is at Pigeon's Lock. The Pearson's Canal Companion for this canal (0-9545383-0-7) says this lock is 8'4"; that's reasonably deep. It also says that there used to be a pub called 'The Three Pigeons' by Bridge 213; hence the name of the adjoining lock. The lock was busy: I caught a boat locking down (towards Oxford) and another was waiting to lock upwards.
The route then heads into the village of Kirtlington, the end of today's walking.
I was rushing the last part of the walk as I wanted to get the 1426 hrs bus back to Oxford. I made it just in time.