The South Oxfordshire Way

Day 5: Mongewell, A4130/A4024 to Satwell

Friday 26th October

Getting there:

  0720   0750   0825
    car    car    car  
  0747   0817   0852
  0810   0840   0915
    X39/X40 ...
  0817   0847   0922
These times are approximate
Mongewell, A4130/A4024

Getting back:

Satwell, The Lamb PH, o/s
    Motts Yellow Bus M1
Nettlebed, The Green
Nettlebed, opp Kiln
    Thames Travel 139
Wallingford, Town Hall

Today's route (with distances in miles):
Mongewell, A4130/A4024 6.2 Stoke Row 1.8 junction 0.4 Satwell

Today's diary:

Today's photos are available in a set at flickr called tsow_day5. One way of looking at them is to go to

After coming off the Ridgeway into the Vale of the White Horse last Monday, I've been meandering around some flat lands in a bend of the Thames. Having crossed the Thames at Wallingford yesterday, for the next two days I'm crossing another bend of the Thames. However, this time it's going to be undulating as I've entered the Chilterns.

It's a misty start to the day when I set off from Mongewell. I try to take a photo of the mist.

I soon get to a pig farm ("Sheepcote Farm"). The pigs and piglets seem to have a lot of room to run round.

After the pig farm, I hit a field with no discernible path across it. It's difficult to know exactly where to go as I can't see the other side of the field. However, I plod straight on and hope for the best.

For the next couple of miles, there are fields and fields with lots of pheasants.

At Woodcote Farm, the route switches South. Whilst walking along a lane I pass a field of sheep who are friendly and when I leave they all follow me (on their side of the fence).

At Hailey, there's a pub called "The King William". I wonder how it gets any trade stuck out here miles from anywhere. Even the road it's on is a cul-de-sac.

In this area, my route shares that of the "The Chiltern Way Extension". I must remember to look up "The Chiltern Way" when I get home, as the Chilterns do have some wonderful

After Ipsden Heath, I meet an area where junk is strewn around for half a mile. Lots of it is in containers, but it doesn't look organised. It looks as if someone is obsessed with collecting.

At Stokerow Farm, I can't see the way through a field. I'm meant to be goign to Nottwood Lane. And although I think I can see that, I can't see any stiles at Stokerow Farm. The gates don't open too and so I would have to climb one.

In the end, I give up and decide to walk along the lane into the village of Stoke Row and then leave the village using Nottwood Lane.

It takes me pass "The Crooked Billet", another place that is off the beaten track. Here a sign says that they will give you lunch if you bring locally produced food!

My route takes me along the Northern boundary of Greyhone Wood and into Oveys Wood. The scenery is wonderful: magnificent woods with lots of leaves on the grounds. I guess Autumn is an excellent time to be visiting here.

The footpath is hard to make out and I have to consult the map frequently to keep an eye on where I am. There are few arrows in different coloured paints on the tree that keep you reassured.

Eventually, I get to a crossroads in the paths indicated by a three-way arrow in paint on one of the trees. I'm going to turn left here but will return tomorrow morning to this junction to carry onwards.

It's not far from here to the small village of Satwell where's there is a pub called "The Lamb".

I get there by about 1210. My bus goes at 1334. And so there's plenty of time for lunch and a few beers. There are three beers on offer: Loddon Hoppitt, Rebellion IPA and Fuller's London Pride. The first two are from local micro breweries.

During the next 70 minutes, I have halves of IPA, Hoppitt, Pride and IPA. All the beers are good, but I prefer the Rebellion IPA.

The pub was bought last year (2006) by Anthony Worral Thompson, a celebrity chef. So there is an extensive menu but I think all the main dishes are less than 10 UKP. During this week's walking, I failed to have a cheap lunch. Today, I splash out on a Spanish stew called "Cordero" which I think is 9.50 UKP. It is wonderful.

The pub has lots of people coming and going. Most of them are eating as well. Just as I'm finishing my stew, the table next to me becomes occupied by an elderly couple. We spend the next 50 minutes talking about various things. They've been here many times before and they come here on Fridays because that's the only day of the week that they do fish and chips. They were eating at some other pub yesterday lunchtime.

I tell them what I'm doing. I mention where I've started this morning but they don't think it's very far. I try to convey that I'm not walking along the roads. The man looks at my map and between us we work out that I've passed their house earlier this morning.

As I had walked through Stoke Row, he asks me what I though about the Maharajah's Well. I say that although I saw a sign for it, I didn't go and see it. He's not very happy about this and I get him to tell me about the Well.

Later, he asks me how fast I walk. I say about 2M an hour. He says that's very slow. In the army they walk much faster than that, and it's with a full backpack. I say that I'm on holiday and want to see the scenery. I deliberately open up the possibility of him saying that even so I didn't see the Well and he falls into it.

At separate times, I enquire of the two bar staff as to whether they know whether there is a bus at 1330 from outside the pub. I learn from the table next door that one is Brazilian and the other is from Poland. But neither know about the bus and nor do the people on the table next door. They have just ordered deserts. The man says that he's about to make me an offer that I can't refuse, a real bonus. He's going to offer me a lift to Wallingford (where I've parked my car). I say that I would like to catch the bus but that I'll come back if it doesn't turn up. He's not happy with this and I think he's insulted about me turning down his offer.

I go outside the pub at about 1320 and wait for the bus. All the timetables I've seen say that it leaves from outside "The Lamb". Although there is no obvious bus stop maybe they decided not to have one when there is only one bus each day (in both directions).

It doesn't arrive. Satwell has been bypassed and so, at about 1345, I walk to a T junction with the main road which is about 0.5M away. I stand on the main road hitching. Lots of cars pass but none of them stop. After about 10 minutes I see the car with the couple that were on the table next to me come out of the road from Satwell and approach the T junction. I can see that they can see me but I don't make out I've recognised them. I want them to decide whether they want to give me a lift. But they don't which leaves me sad.

After about another 10 minutes I get a lift. He's going back across country to High Wycombe and so although he's not going to Wallingford, he is going to Nettlebed. He drops me at the bus stop where I was planning to get my bus back to Wallingford. I tell him how grateful I am for the lift. At about 1405 a bus stops at the bus stop opposite. The bus driver says something across the road to me. I can't hear him and so I cross the road. It appears that this is the bus I'm expecting to turn up in about 10 minutes time. He says he's running late as he got held up in Wallingford. I ask him how long: he says about 20 minutes.

I try hitching again standing at the start of the bus layby and so even though it's a busy main road people have a chance to stop. I get two people stopping. The first one is driving a posh car like a BMW. It is spotless inside and I wonder wheter he'll mind my mudstrewn trousers. He says he is going to Wallingford but that he is a taxi. I decline. There is no outside sign that this is a taxi and I think he was just trying it on. The other person is going to Goring and so I decline.

Suddenly the bus appears. He has made up quite a bit of the time and the bus arrives in Wallingford only about 7 minutes late.

Preview of today's walk:

From the A4130/A4074 roundabout, the route first runs alongside the Eastern side of the A4074 crossing the Ridgeway. It then picks up a foot path going E passing through Sheepcote Farm and Forest Row before turning S in Wicks Wood to pass Poors Farm and Hailey.

Turn briefly Eastwards (pass a pub) and then pick up a footpath going S pass Warren Farm to reach Well Place.

The route from Well Place goes E passing Wellplace Farm and Handsmooth Farm to reach Ipsden Heath. Here momentarily join the road going Northwrds before picking up a footpath going SouthEastwards passing Hundridge Farm and aiming for Stokerow Farm. Here turn left and then pick up another SouthEasterly path that meets Nottwood Lane in Stoke Row.

Walk along the SW boundary of Bush Wood and then SE through Bear Wood. Pick up a path going NE between Greyhone Wood and Greyhone Plantation. When this comes to a T junction, the route continues SE through Oveys Wood. At the boundary of Oveys Wood and Greatbottom Wood, turn left to take the NE path to Satwell.

Only one bus a day passes through Satwell. It's Motts Travel Yellow Bus (M1). So keep a close eye on the watch as you savour the beers in the Lamb at Satwell.