Watlington Hill and Park Corner

A 14.5 mile walk today, through the Oxfordshire section of the Chilterns (I may have strayed briefly over the county boundary into Bucks, I’m not sure – but then not knowing which county I’m in is nothing, my friends often wonder what planet I’m on!).

I started at Watlington Hill and followed the road to Christmas Common (almost as delightful a place as the name suggests!). I then went south, down an ancient track and then through College Wood to Pishill. From there a path through fields and then steeply uphill through a wood (where I saw three Fallow Deer) brought me to Maidensgrove. I continued on southwards, heading downhill through trees into the Warburg Nature Reserve (I passed a small meadow full of primroses), where I turned right and followed a bridleway westwards for a few miles to Park Corner.

I continued west for maybe another mile, following part of the Chiltern Way, then followed field paths north and west to meet the Ridgeway near Ewelme Park. I followed the Ridgeway north a short distance, then left it and followed a nice path along the top of the escarpment, overlooking Swyncombe and the Oxfordshire Plain beyond. I heard and then saw a Raven here – I’d heard one in this area about a year ago. I descended through a wood and then across parkland to the 11th century Swyncombe church. Here I joined the Ridgeway again briefly, before turning left and following a path for about a mile over Swyncombe Down.

I descended the steep end of Swyncombe Down, passing several yew trees, and at the bottom turned right on a chalky track. After about a mile, the Ridgeway joined the track from my right, and I continued on the route of this National Trail for just over another mile until it reahed a road just south of Watlington. Here I went right for a short distance, then took a path on the left that took me on a very long but gradual ascent back up Watlington Hill (lots more yew trees here too).

Lots of Red Kites today, and at least one Buzzard. A Jay and a Green Woodpecker too, as well as the Raven I mentioned (only the third I’ve seen in the Chilterns, and my best view of one there). Plenty of wildflowers – many more bluebells than my last walk six days ago, but they are still well short of their best. Lots of Lesser Celandine and Violets, and I saw Wood Anemone again in three or four places (including Watlington Hill).

Very nice walk – nice weather too, blue skies in the morning though it clouded over a bit in the afternoon. Unfortunately I didn’t enjoy the walk as much as I should have done, as I felt very tired in the afternoon. I’ve seen a doctor about the virus I’ve had and a couple of other minor ailments – I probably shouldn’t have walked so far today, and I’ll have to take it easier over the next few weeks. Very frustrating as I’m keen to finish the preparatory walks I’m doing and then set off on the Chiltern Chain Walk.

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