The Oxfordshire Way

Day 4: Kirtlington to Beckley

Friday 25th August

Getting there:

  0803   0903   0918
    35     35     35
  0840   0932   0947
Oxford SA
Oxford GG
  0900          1000   1100
    25A           25     25A
  0926          1026   1126
Kirtlington School opp

Getting back:

  1903   1933
    U1     280
  1932   1953
Oxford SA

Today's route (with distances in miles):
Kirtlington 2.5 Weston-on-the-Green 3.5 Islip 3.8 Beckley

Today's diary:

It was difficult to arrange how to do today's walk. Either I could catch the 1000 hrs bus from Oxford to Kirtlington and then walk to arrive in Islip for lunch but later that would give me a 2 hour wait for the bus in Beckley and it doesn't look easy to hitch out of Beckley. Or I could catch the 1100 bus to Kirtlington but because it wouldn't be a long lunch (because I would be too late for a pub lunch) there would still be a 90 minute wait for the bus from Beckley. Of course, trying to stay in the pub from 1330 to 1630hrs is another possibility!

In the end, I went for the first option.

It was another day with a mix of sun and clouds, but the sun was out for long spells today, and, as I wasn't wearing a sun hat and I didn't use the suntan lotion (that I was carrying!), I got a bit sunburnt.

Today the route started in Kirtlington, and visited the villages of Weston-on-the-Green, Islip and Noke before finishing in Beckley.

Tantalising the TV transmitter at Beckley is visible from time to time during today's walk. It looked a long way away to begin with which sort of helped when it got nearer.

The route out of Kirtlington is across fields where cows are grazing. There are some photos of some of them in today's photos which you cen get to by following the appropriate link that is given above.

The fourth photo shows a field that has recently been ploughed. The route is somewhere across this. I got my binoculars out and spotted a waymark on a post on the other side of the field. At that point, a dog and then a person came into view in my bins and so I headed for them.

Half way across the ploughed field, I saw the magnificent house shown in the next photo.

And then I saw someone following me. This is such a rare event, I took a photo of him. That scared him off. It's Day 4 of my walk along the Oxfordshire Way, and I'm nearly half way and so far I've seen no-one else doing it.

As shown in the 8th photo, most of the time, the path through ploughed fields is obvious.

The OS map has an airfield marked near to Weston-on-the-Green, and I saw a glider (see photo).

On the Oxfordshire Way, they always send you through churchyards rather than around them. The photo shows the church at Weston-on-the-Green. This village is 30 miles into the Oxfordshire Way, and, as that's nearly half-way, I celebrated with an ice cream. This was bought from the Post Office which is near the Church and is a well-provided convenience store.

So far, the route of the Oxfordshire Way has mainly been in an easterly direction. However, for the section between Weston-on-the-Green and Islip, it goes due South.

There are couple of pubs in Weston-on-the-Green. I saw one outside Weston-on-the-Green called The Chequers (see photo). According to the book, it's a 17th century thatched inn that has a Bar Billiards table.

Nearby the pub, the sign for the Oxfordshire Way seems to point at some thick undergrowth (see photo).

And the route then crosses the A34 (see photo). Yuk! Sooner them than me.

The next photo has a post in the foreground with a field behind that has no obvious path. The post has two waymarks pointing out the forward direction of the Oxfordshire Way, and they point in different directions. I read the map, and looking at various features including a church in the distance decided they were both wrong. And so I headed off in another direction to the far edge of this field with the idea of walking around the far edge if my direction was wrong. Well I was wrong, and using the binoculars I later found the route after having walked half way round the perimeter of the field. Much later, I discovered that the church I'd found on my A4 copy of the OS map was not the right church. There was another church which was not on my extract. Grhh!

Skipping forward quite a few photos, you'll see two photos showing where the route crosses the Oxford to Bicester railway line: it actually goes along the line for a bit.

On approaching Islip, there's a ploughed field with some seagulls in the middle distance and a church in the background (see photo). I thought to myself: those seagulls are not going to stay there. Later photos show them in flight as I head towards them. Meanwhile a train passes heading towards Bicester (see photo).

At Islip, the route is close to the confluence of the Rivers Cherwell and Ray. The route crosses the River Ray at Islip Bridge in the southern outskirts of the village. According to the book, in the Civil War, Islip was an important outpost in the Royalist defence of their headquarters at Oxford, and in 1645 Cromwell defeated the Royalist forces in a skirmish at Islip Bridge.

It is also the birthplace of Edward the Confessor.

There seem to be two pubs in Islip: the Red Lion and the Swan Inn.

As web sites indicate that the Red Lion does food, I aim for that (see photo). I'm not impressed by the Ploughman's Lunch, nor the half of Black Sheep nor the half of Adnam's bitter, nor the service. In the pub, I read the June-July edition of the local CAMRA branch's magazine and it said the beer in this pub was well kept. Maybe I or the pub were on a bad day. This is an enormous pub with extensive beer gardens and a restaurent.

The other pub, the Swan Inn (see photo), is in Lower Street which is next to the Islip Bridge. In there they were selling Greene King IPA and Old Speckled Hen. As the Hen is a little strong, I went for the IPA which is weak. It's not my favourite beer, but today I enjoyed the half of IPA a lot. Maybe it was because I didn't like the halves that I'd had in the Red Lion. There were only two customers in the Swan Inn. It didn't seem to be doing food at lunchtime but it does at other times. About a fortnight ago, they had had their first beer festival. Even though it was quiet this lunchtime, in my opinion, it had more character than the other pub.

After Islip, the route returns to a mainly easterly direction passing through Noke before reaching Beckley. Whilst in the Swan Inn, I discovered I'd lost the A4 copy of this afternoon's OS map. And, so seeing I often have to refer to these A4 copies, I hoped that the waymarking for the afternoon would be OK. For this reason, I decided not to have another half in the Swan Inn!

The next photo shows the River Ray. It's taken from Islip Bridge.

It's then due East across fields. As I enter one field, down to my left I spot a deer (look closely at the next photo). It has heard the metal-grating sound of the gate in the hedge closing and so it has spotted me. We stared at each other for a little while, and then it bounced off (see next photo).

A few photos on there is the church at Noke.

I couldn't resist taking the three photos of Fir Tree Cottage which is really a mansion.

In the next photo, I catch a horse doing a roly-poly.

In the last 0.5M of walking, there is climb of 150 feet (50m), and the target of Beckley is obvious for miles because of the TV transmitter nearby (see photo). Part of the climb is through Noke Wood, where I see a lady picking blackberries. I ask her whether they are for later or whether she is eating them. It's a mixture.

At Beckley, there is a pub called the Abingdon Arms (see photo). It opens at 6pm and starts serving food from 7pm. The only bus of the day leaves at 6.30pm. It is 4.30pm when I get there. This is all very grim.

I decide that I will try hitching and if this is not fruitful I'll come back for the bus. However, Beckley is dead, and which is the way to Oxford? There are no road signs in Beckley and as mentioned previously I'd lost my A4 copy of the OS map. At 1643 hrs, I start walking in a direction chosen at random. Soon, at a junction I see the blackberry lady driving her car. I stop her, and boldly I ask her for a lift. But she's not going my way. She says if I go up this road I will meet the B4027 and it's left for Oxford. What she didn't tell me is that it's 20 minutes along this road (to get to the B4027) and although 6 cars pass my hitching does not work. When I get to the B4027 there's no mention of Oxford: it's left for Forest Hill and right for Islip. However, going left, I soon see there is a right turn for Headington along that road.

It's 1703 hrs. I see that there is a layby almost immediately at the start of this road, and so I stand just before it. I get a lift at 1705 hrs from the second vehicle that passes. Wow! He's going to Cowley but he will give me a lift to the roundabout at Barton (sometimes known as Headington roundabout). There's a frequent bus service from there, and I'm home about two hours earlier than planned. Well pleased. Thank you to the blackberry lady for the directions and a very special thank you to the person who gave me a lift. It was a great end to an excellent day's walking.