The South Oxfordshire Way

Day 2: Childrey to Steventon

Tuesday 23rd October

Getting there:

  0813   0943
    32     33
  0922   1017
Wantage, Market Place
  0930   1030
    38     38
  0947   1047
Childrey, Hatchet PH, opp

Getting back:

Steventon, Cherry Tree PH, opp
  1546   1621   1651
    35A    35A    35A
  1603   1638   1708

Today's route (with distances in miles):
Childrey 5.7 Ardington 3.8 Steventon

Today's diary:

Today's photos are available in a set at flickr called tsow_day2. One way of looking at them is to go to

It was a long tedious bus trip to the start of today's walk. Two buses were involved and I had a 8 minute changeover in Wantage. The 0813 bus from Abingdon to Wantage went via Culham, Milton Park, Didcot and Harwell. Although it left Abingdon only 2 minutes, it gradually got later being about 8 minutes late at one point. On the bus I was getting a little annoyed as there is only an hourly service between Wantage and Childrey.

However, it got into Wantage about 6 minutes late which gave me 2 minutes. My next bus was waiting there and to begin with I was the only passenger. It does a circular trip but goes out a different way from its route back. All the people that got on didn't want to go to Childrey: they were probably going to Wantage. So they get a long journey on the way to Wantage but a short journey back. Very weird but I guess it's effective.

Although it was a cloudless and very sunny day, when I got off the bus I realised how cold it was. On the way there I had seen people clearing ice from their windscreens, and when I started walking there were places "in the shade" that were still covered in frost.

After a few minutes walking I put on another two layers of clothing!

The first part of the route follows the line of the old Wiltshire and Berkshire canal. It still amazes me that people are wanting to restore this canal as it will be so much work and I think it's impossible. It's very pleasant walking beside the canal and although the water has a lot of green algae there are some coots about and I even saw some ducks in one stretch. In other places it is very overgrown.

Another serious hindrance to the restoration work is that people have acquired bits of the canal for their property: some have extensive portions of it for their garden and I even saw a house where a portion of the house is where the canal used to go.

At Grove there is a section of the route alongside the canal that goes through the middle of people's property, between the back of their house and their small garden. You feel like you are intruding.

I did this section of the Berkshire and Wiltshire canal last year and even though it is a pleasant walk I was longing to do something new. The path away from the canal, SE towards Ardington starts just after Grove. Once again many sections of it are straight across the middle of fields but today there were well trodden routes across these fields.

Before Ardington, the village of West Lockinge is met. Between the two villages, there is a lot of common land and a lot of footpaths. It is well worth visiting.

Yesterday's pub was virtually empty. Today I drank at lunchtime in The Boar's Head at Ardington. There were quite a lot of people there. A table of 8 were having lunch in the restaurant; and there were two tables of three having lunch in the bar.

I had looked at their web pages yesterday and saw that their 2 course lunch was reasonably pricey but their web pages said they had a bar menu. When I got there today, I saw the cheapest item was an Open Sandwich at 6.50 UKP. When I heard myself ordering a Bacon and Fried Egg Open Sandwich I said to myself "you're on holiday". It was excellent and served with fresh tomatoes and salad and ciabata.

I had a half of Arkells Bee Organic Bitter and as this was excellent another half quickly followed. I also had a half of Hooky Bitter which also tasted good.

The men's loo had some nicely framed photos from six months of the Pirelli calendar. I wondered whether the other six months were in the women's loo!

There was a proper fire in the bar.

After lunch, whilst in betweeen West Hendred and East Hendred, I met a person and we started chatting and he suggested I take a different route (involving Featherbed Lane) because my route would be muddy. In the end, I decided to ignore this advice. He also recommended going to the "North Star" pub in Steventon but even though later I found it I didn't have time to go in.

Soon after leaving him, I lost some time as I twice took wrong turnings in West Hendred. And the footpaths in the 1K before Wood's Farm look nothing like what's on the map. There are few signposts and so you have to make it up. It was a bit muddy but not very, and I arrived in Steventon just in time for the 1546 bus back to Abingdon.

Preview of today's walk:

Part of the route today follows the line of the old Wiltshire and Berkshire Canal. So it's northwards out of Childrey to find the Canal at West Challow. This section of the Canal has water in it. The route follows the Canal which goes eastwards to East Challow. The Canal then goes alongside the southern outskirts of Grove to reach the main road (the A338). Here the route runs along the back of people's properties which is a bit embarassing.

The route then leaves the line of the canal to pick up a footpath then runs SE from Grove to West Lockinge. And then it uses some footpaths to the S of Ardington.

For lunch, how about The Boar's Head in Church Street, Ardington (OX12 8QA)? Again, it is probably the pub marked on the OS map.

From Ardington, Eastwards to the church that lies on the Southern outskirts of West Hendred. And then N through the village to reach the A417.

First, N out of West Hendred, and then pick up a footpath aiming NorthEastwards to Steventon.