Stoke Row and Nuffield


Very grey day today, completely overcast throughout the walk, but dry and very mild, about 7-8C.

After a lengthy drive, I started walking from Stoke Row in Oxfordshire about 10.25am. I left the village by a lane, then taking a bridleway going north, downhill through a beech wood. I crossed a couple of lanes and continued northwards on a long farm drive. I was disappointed, as on the map it looked like it would be a nice long track between hedges, but in fact it was tarmac, like walking  along a lane. It was slightly softer surfaced when it went through a wood, but when I turned right just before finally reaching the farm, I was back on another lengthy tarmac drive. Still, I did now see my first Red Kites of the day as I neared Nettlebed – there were three or four on the ground in a field on my left. I also saw a bullfinch (again!) in the hedgerow here – it actually posed briefly in the open, but I was too slow to focus my camera.

I crossed a road on the edge of Nettlebed, and continued north through the village allotments. The path took me to a road, but instead of crossing it I took another path going off sharply to my left. This was quite muddy in places but not too bad. It was generally a good path between hedges, which eventually led to a farm or stables. Here I turned right along a lane, heading towards Park Corner (where I photographed some deer recently). But before getting there, I went left along another bridleway. This passed a couple of houses on my right with a wood on my left, then ran close to a field on my right.

I then came to a junction, where I turned right to follow a path through a long thin belt of trees – this was part of the southern extension of the Chiltern Way, heading from Park Corner towards Ewelme. The path was occasionally muddy, but this was an enjoyable stretch, following the tree belt and very gradually descending a shallow valley. After about a mile, I reached a junction where the Chiltern Way crossed the Ridgeway, and I turned left onto the National Trail.

As I left the tree belt to cross an arable field on a clear but narrow path, I stopped to try to photograph another couple of Red Kites. As with all such atempts today I was unsuccessful – they were too far away, and I really need to use a tripod to get a sharper picture as I don’t have the steadiest hands. On the far side of the field the path went uphill and to the left through a wood. I then crossed a busy main road, and followed a path through a golf course to reach Nuffield – there were several Red Kites flying over the village, as there were when I walked through here on my Berks-Essex walk about 18 months ago.

I turned right and passed the ancient church that dates back to the 600’s, then took a field path on the left. After quarter of a mile I turned right and followed the Ridgeway through a very long thin belt of trees. For the next couple of miles I was on the line of an ancient earthwork called Grim’s Ditch, sometimes a wide and deep ditch between banks, sometimes just a small bank. It was very gradually descending down from the Chilterns towards the river Thames.

When it reached a lane, just after following a row of Scots Pines, I turned left (my last walk on Swans Way started here, and I was now rejoining part of the Chiltern Way route). I soon turned left off the lane and followed a track to a farm, where I went right, slightly uphill through a wood. I heard more Red Kites here, and as I left the wood to cross a field I saw three or four kites in the trees to my right. The path took me on past Poors Farm and into the hamlet of Hailey. I turned left and followed the lane past the pub and one or two cottages. The Chiltern Way soon turned off right, but I went straight on, the lane now replaced by a farm track between hedges. I saw a buzzard and a song thrush amongst other birds as I walked along here.

This track went on for about a mile, gradually uphill for a long time, and passed through a wood. Eventually I reached a few houses and a farm, where the track became a lane again, which I followed for another half mile to a road. I crosssed over and continued on another bridleway. This passed what seemed to be a scrap merchants, with a lot of skips parked next to the path, but soon became a green lane, a rathery muddy track between hedges. This took me back to Stoke Row, where the track became a lane as it passed a farm and a few houses. When the lane met the main road through Stoke Row, I turned left and was soon back at my car.

This was a very grey day and the paths were often quite muddy. For some reason I wasn’t in the best of moods and didn’t enjoy the walk as much as I should have done. But on a decent Spring or Summer’s day, I can see that this would be a really fine walk, with the additional historic interest of Nufield church and Grim’s Ditch.


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