South from Stoke Row (again)

Today I walked about 11 miles, in a big loop south from Stoke Row in Oxfordshire (where I also started yesterday). I didn’t really pass through any other villages, just touching on Exlade Street and Checkendon as I made my way back to Stoke Row.

It was a nice walk, on a very pleasant day weather-wise. Much of the walk was on bridleways, which were occasionally muddy but generally OK. A lot of the walk was in woodland, which I always enjoy, and there was a good mixture of woods too – most often beech woods (of course!), but there was a nice section of mainly silver birches, and an area of tall conifers early on in the walk (I heard, but couldn’t see, a pair of ravens here).

This walk was part of my planned ‘Chiltern Chain Walk’. Most of it I’d walked in the opposite direction some weeks ago, but the start and finish were new to me. When I did this walk before, I got lost near the end, so I was interested at the start of the walk to see how I’d gone wrong – not sure how I missed the path I wanted, as it was clear enough, but the map was misleading as the path was not shown as a public footpath.

At the end of today’s walk, I tried a different route back into Stoke Row, as I hadn’t like the start of the route I used last time. I first tried a route that went through a wood and then along the main road into Stoke Row – but the path through the wood was very muddy (obviously not a year-round problem, and it was no worse than a few other paths I’ve used), and the road section had no path or verge and was a bit dangerous. So I went back and tried another route, that went through fields and paddocks. This was better, but I’m not completely happy about it – I may look at the map again, and try to work out another route. This is the nineteenth of the twenty walks on my proposed Chiltern Chain Walk, and it has been easily the most difficult part of the route to devise.

I hardly saw any wildflowers early on in the walk, but later on saw the same selection as yesterday – Lesser Celandine, Greater Stitchwort, Bluebells, Wood Anemones, Violets. I also saw some Cowslips (first time on a walk this year, though I spotted them yesterday near Aston Clinton as I was driving to Stoke Row). I saw far fewer Red Kites than yesterday, and only one Buzzard (though it was a fairly close view).

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