The South Oxfordshire Way

Day 3: Steventon to Long Wittenham

Wednesday 24th October

Getting there:

  0736   0806   0836   0958
    35A    35A    35A    35A
  0747   0817   0847   1009
Steventon, Green

Getting back:

Long Wittenham, The Plough, opp
  1204   1504   1814
    107    107    107
  1218   1518   1828
Didcot, Railway Station, stop R2
Didcot, Railway Station
  1225   1525   1835
    35A    35A    35A
  1303   1603   1913

Today's route (with distances in miles):
Steventon 6.1 Appleford 1.2 Long Wittenham

Today's diary:

Today's photos are available in a set at flickr called tsow_day3. One way of looking at them is to go to

Although the day started sunny, it became a lot cloudier by mid morning and a lot colder after lunch. Because there was less distance to walk, I was able to get up a lot later! I set off from home at about 0935.

The route out of Steventon is along Milton Lane. However, I failed to find it to begin with, and when I did locate it, I got bogged down in the mud whilst trying to cross a stream. Milton Lane started off as a pebble-based lane, but that developed into a stream that was at least four inches deep and this was surrounded by very deep mud at the sides of the stream. Although I started to attempt this, it soon became clear I would quickly get very wet. This all happened in the first 20 minutes.

Looking at the map, I saw that I could reach a point 0.75K further along the lane by doing the three sides of a square that was to the South. So go South for a bit, East for a bit and then North for a bit. The route North was alongside the eastern side of the A34.

This got me to the area of Milton Manor. Here the plan was to go round the three sides of Milton Manor. This worked out well as the scenery is very pretty. I found some friendly horses near to the Church and strangely there was a cuddly sheep on top of a gravestone.

The route of Milton was to the East and then North to a place marked as "Frog Hole" on the map.

North from Frog Hole, the route is a bit higgledly-piggedly and I was worried it wouldn't work, but at Frog Hole the footpath was signposted "Drayton" which gave me more confidence it would work. By careful reading of the map, it worked out OK and I eventually got to a cart track called Drayton East Way. It is not particularly easy to get lost around here as the six towers of Didcot Power Station are nearby, and you can easily get bearings from these.

So east along Drayton East Way takes you to Sutton Courtenay. To avoid walking North up the main road, I first took northerly paths to the west of the main road and when these dried up I crossed the main road and took northely paths to the east of the main road. Sutton Courtenay has a lot of interesting footpaths.

I ate in the George and Dragoon. It was reasonably crowded and the service was excellent with friendly staff. They have an extensive menu, and I had baked beans and cheese jacket potato and three halves of beer which came to 9.30 UKP. I had two halves of Morells Original and some other stronger beer whose name I forget. Sorry. The beer was excellent.

Unlike yesterday, there were no surprises in the loo!

After lunch I took the path Eastwards out of Sutton Courtenay. There are remnants of quarry work in this area, i.e., a lot of deep pools which is great for the wildlife. It also meant the footpath got diverted.

The final approach to Appleford has to be on tarmac. It is also left on tarmac until you get to the Church which is on the Eastern boundary of the village. Weird place for the Church. Not bang in the centre of the village like it usually is.

After the Church, the footpath goes near to the River Thames and I take a photo. There is a glimpse of Wittenham Clumps: it's a distinctive outcrop on top of a hill. I climb it tomorrow.

When I get to Long Wittenham, I quickly locate the bus stop but then I have a surprise. The bus runs about 12 minutes later than the time I have: I have 1504, whereas the timetable at the bus stop says 1516. As I have a 7 minute changeover in Didcot this is not good news.

As I will be returning here tomorrow morning, I pick up some up-to-date timetables from the bus. Later, I find that the bus I wanted to catch back to Long Wittenham tomorrow morning actually runs an hour later and there is not a suitable bus connection from Abingdon. I have to become creative and use a train to Didcot.

In the end the bus runs about 2 minutes early getting to Long Wittenham at about 1514. I spend the next quarter of an hour being stressed (it doesn't matter too much as there is another bus in 35 minutes but Didcot is not an exciting place to spend 35 minutes). However, when the bus I'm on arrives on the final approach to Didcot railway station my next bus is travelling along the road just in front of the bus I'm on. As the bus driver is about to stop the bus behind my next bus, I mention to him that I want to catch that bus and he jokingly says he could block that bus's exit. So it's quickly off one bus and on to the other.

Preview of today's walk:

To start with, the route takes some footpaths in Steventon. Then it's along Milton Lane, which becomes Mill Lane after it crosses the A34. Here the route passes Milton Manor with its grounds, lakes and church.

The route then passes to the N of the horrible Milton Park Estate to reach a Northerly footpath that eventually meets the Drayton East Way. Use this to get to Sutton Courtenay.

This is a very posh village. So why not join the residents for lunch in one of the local pubs. How about the George and Dragon which is at 4 Church Street (OX14 4NJ)? It's probably the church marked on the OS map.

After lunch, pick up an Easterly footpath out of Sutton Courtenay, and then use the B4016 to reach Appleford.

The footpath E out of Appleyard lies just S of the River Thames, and gets closer to it as the route approaches Long Wittenham.