The South Oxfordshire Way

Day 4: Long Wittenham to Mongewell, A4130/A4024

Thursday 25th October

Getting there:

Didcot, Railway Station
Long Wittenham, The Plough, opp

Getting back:

Mongewell, A4130/A4024
These times are approximate
  1528   1551   1628   1703
    X39   ?X40    X39    X40
  1535   1558   1635   1710
  1540   1610   1640   1710
    X39    X40    X39    X40
  1605   1635   1704   1734
Oxford, AbingdonRd/CanningCres
  1625   1655   1715   1745
    35     35     35     35
  1636   1706   1726   1756

Today's route (with distances in miles):
Long Wittenham 5.0 Calvin Thorpe Way 2.6 Mongewell, A4130/A4024

Today's diary:

Today's photos are available in a set at flickr called tsow_day4. One way of looking at them is to go to

Well it was overcast all day and I don't recall seeing the sun out at all. But to be fair: it was not particularly cold and it didn't rain until I got on the bus to go home.

The route out of Long Wittenham is not very exciting: there ia about 1K of tarmac and it's a straight road. There was a relatively new recreatinal woodland area (called Neptune's Wood) halfway along, and that relieved the boredom.

And then across some fields with cows before getting to Little Wittenham. The final approach went through many people's gardens.

When I arrived at Wittenham Clumps, I decided to go a bit off route and aim for the bird hide in Little Wittenham Wood. I've been there once before and really enjoyed it. But disappointingly I didn't find the turn-off: maiybe it's out-of-bounds this time of year. I did find an area that is fenced off to stop the deer eating orchid shoots.

Having detoured to Little Wittenham Wood, I managed to get pass Wittenham Clumps without climbing up to it. I chose not to backtrack. Some will say I was lazy. Yes, OK, I was lazy.

Instead I walked part of the way up to Brightwell Barrow which is at the top of a hill to the SE of Wittenham Clumps. This time the path (not me) decided not to go to the top but instead to descend on its Southern side. Like many times before this trip, this path was diagonally across a field but there was a well-defined path.

And so to the village of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell. This village has one shop which I did not see and a pub. It also had a car-servicing place but apart from this these attractions it was asleep. The main street is off the main road and I nearly didn't see anyone whne I walked down it.

I got to the pub at about 1230. Last night when I was researching Brightwell-cum-Sotwell on the web I couldn't find any reviews of the pub ("The Red Lion") and in my mind it would be 50-50 as to whether it would be open and whether it would be serving food.

But it was open and it was serving food. I had a three-cheese ploughmans which I thought didn't have enough cheese and bread. I think it was 7.50 UKP. They did have some cheaper food. I also had a half of Loddon Brewery's "Hoppitt" and two halves of West Berkshire Brewery's "Good Old Boy". For some reason, I didn't enjoy either beer. They were OK but weren't exciting to taste!

Even though the pub was off the main road, there were a steady stream of customers.

The route from Brightwell-cum-Sotwell to Wallingford was along footpaths which ran a short distance from the main road behind people's houses. In the outskirts of Wallingford, the route starts to take footpaths through housing estates. I took the wrong turn near the park and had to walk round two sides of the park instead of aiming for the castle which I didn't see.

Alongside the Thames at Wallingford Bridge I found a family fishing. Immediately after Wallingford Bridge, the route first goes alongside a field and then diagonnaly across another field. This was just 1K from the bus stop and I guessed the bus was imminent. So even though there was no foot path sign and no sign of any track across the field, (See the last photo.) I boldly aimed for the hedge on the opposite side of the field about 0.5K away. When I got to the hedge, there was a stile and so I guess the route I'd taken was right. This hedge was adjacent to a roundabout and I got to it just in time to see the bus go!

So I just hung around for 30 minutes waiting for the next one. And as I got on the bus, it started to drizzle lightly.

Preview of today's walk:

After a brief walk along the footpath behind the mains treet in LongWittenham, the route uses the road which goes Eastwards for about 1K to reach a boundary stone where the road meets a footpath that continues Eastwards. Continue along that and then take the SouthWesterly footpath into Little Wittenham, and to the church at Little Wittenham. Here the Thames is again not far away.

Take the footpath that runs due South from the church that aims for Wittenham Clumps and then Castle Hill.

Wikipedia's web page says There is a hillfort on Castle Hill. The earliest earthworks date to the late Bronze Age. More banks and ditches were added during the early Iron Age. Excavation has revealed that the Iron Age inhabitants caught fish and wild boar as well as herding cattle and sheep. There is also evidence of farming of barley and wheat. The fort appears to have been abandoned by the late Iron Age, the next occupants being Romans.

The route then continues first NorthEastwards and then SouthEastwards to Brightwell Barrow and passes Highlands Farm to reach Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.

For lunch, how about the Red Lion in Brightwell Street (OX10 0RT)? It's probably the pub marked on the OS map.

After lunch, use the footpath that runs S of the road from Brightwell to Wallingford. It later crosses the road to reach the remnants of the castle.

After crossing the Thames at Wallingford Bridge, pick up a footpath that runs SouthEastwards to the roundabout at the intersection of the A4130 and the A4074.