Friday 31 December 2010

Phoebe Woods, Millets Farm, Frilford, Oxfordshire

Approx time: 1 hour
Paths: mud
Points of interest: open areas, animals, stream, trees, wildlife, birds
Amenities: parking, toilets, cafe, farm shop, garden centre
Grading: all terrain ideally, stroller could be hard work
Weather: Good for all seasons

Millets Farm has already been covered on this blog, but there is more to Millets Farm than the farm shop and animals. Along with Neptune Woods (take a look at January 2010) Phoebe Woods was also planted
commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar.
Access to Phoebe Woods is just beyond the animal petting area, look out for the big blue waves and white face (or moon as LO calls it) to guide the way.
There is a map at the entrance, giving a circular walk, but it's easy enough to follow your own path through the trees and follow the stream/river. There is a stile to cross into Cricket Bat Wood (not mentioned on map).
Not many people seem to venture as far as phoebe woods so if you seek some peace after the bussle of the shop and kids play area have a wonder down, also some nice areas for picnics in the summer.

Wednesday 22 September 2010

Little Wittenham Nature Reserve Walk, Oxfordshire

Approx time: hour to hour and half
Paths: woodland footpaths
Points of interest: view, history (iron age fort), wildlife, trees
Amenities: free car park
Grading: baby carriers or good little walkers, at two half LO got a bit tired as a few slopes
Weather: good on a windy day for kite flying

There are many footpaths used to explore Wittenham Clumps, Castle Hill and Little Wittenham Woods but we chose to do a walk suggest by the Northmoor Trust. The leaflet/map is available from the car park, other leaflets are on their website, but sadly not this one.

We started at Castle Hill, and the famous Poem Tree, navigated the edge of a field then took a walk through Little Wittenham Wood. Within the woods we found a couple of shelters people had made, log bridge across a stream (ideal for kids) and a bird hide, a few seats along the way for any tired legs. Didn't see much in the way of wildlife, but then two year olds aren't designed to be quiet, good at animal poo spotting though. Finished off with a walk up round hill to the clumps and then back to the car park.

Information about the Northmoor Trust Estate and some walk ideas to download

Monday 30 August 2010

Ock River Walk (version 2), Abingdon (Oxfordshire)

This is an alternative route which takes quieter roads.
Approx time: 45 mins
Paths: mixture of footpaths, some main roads, some gravel, some mud
Points of interest: river, old buildings, bridges (we count the bridges, making each one an incentive to reach!), ducks
Amenities: Public parking off West St Helens Street (pay and display), pub on route, town centre cafes and shops close by, toilets in car park
Grading: any pushchair
Weather: can be muddy after heavy rainfall
Warning: open water along most of the route

1. leave south out of St. Helens car park and follow the footpath to the right. There will be houses on your left and garages to your right.

2. few feet along there is a large tree and a footpath on your right leading to a bridge. take this.

3. this is now the ock walk, follow the path, it split at a few points but soon joins up to the main footpath. older children might like to explore. just over half way along there will be a bridge to cross. at the start and end of the walk there are displays boards.

4. at the end of the ock walk cross a bridge to your left and almost go back on yourself, but on the other side of the river.

5. you will come out at some houses, carry on through a open green area

6. at the end of the green there is an exit to the right through the housing estate.

7. tuturn left and then left and head towards a roundabout and Caldecott Road.

8. Cross caldecott road and walk along the footpath lined with trees.
9. you will reach the iron bridge, cross this, pass infront of the "the Old Anchor Inn"
10. just beyond the Anchor turn left down an alley way passing Alms Houses and st Helens church. bear right and then left into West St Helens Street and the car park will be a few steps up on your left.

Monday 9 August 2010

Harcourt Arboretum, Nuneham Courtenay, Oxfordshire

Approx time: min 1 hour
Paths: gravel and grass
Points of interest: peacocks, trees, wildlife
Amenities: toilets, car park
Grading: any type of pushchair
Weather: any

Adults do have to pay to enter Harcourt Arboretum, but its such a lovely place to visit it's worth it.
Your visit can be as long or as short as you would like. take a stroll around the inner area of the Arboretum, among the rhododendrons or take a longer walk around the edge with areas like "plants from high places". Play hide and seek among the trees, hunt out the peacocks or take a picnic and spend a few hours. A visit during April and May for the bluebells is essential.
Before a visit its worth checking out the website
for events and opening times (its closed at weekends during the winter).

Tuesday 1 June 2010

Thrupp/Radley Lakes, Abingdon, Oxfordshire

Approx time: 2 hours
Paths: cycle path
Points of interest: lake
Amenities: toilets at the car park during peak season
Grading: any type of pushchair
Weather: dry

This is not a circular walk, so how ever far you get you have to come back on yourself. It could be made circular by walking further onto Radley and getting the bus (Oxford Bus Company City 35) back into Abingdon.
Start at Abingdon Abbey Meadows car park and follow the sustrains national cycle route 5 towards Radley.
The cycle path will take you through the abbey meadows following the river, then through Barton Meadows and eventually a left turn onto Thrupp/Radley Lakes. Thrupp/Radley Lakes is now owned by the Noorthmoor Trust, and over the coming years I believe they are going to create a circular walk around the lake and also build a visitor centre.

Sunday 11 April 2010

Minster Lovell, Witney, Oxfordshire

Approx time: 30mins - 1 hour
Paths: road, paths, tracks
Points of interest: Cotswold village, church, ruins
Amenities: 2 car parks, one at the church for route 1 and one at the recreation ground (just over the bridge) for route 2.
Grading: route 1: any except a double buggy, route 2: baby carrier
Weather: all (bad weather would add to the atmosphere!)

Minster Lovell Hall is the remains of a 15th century manor house.
If you are taking a pushchair take route 1, if you have a baby carrier or your child can walk then route 2.
map for route 2.

Route 1, park at Minster Lovell church and take the short walk along the road to the church and beyond that to the ruins.

Route 2, park at the recreation ground, cross the ground taking a kissing gate at the far side of the field into the next field.
Through a couple more kissing gates and then across a small stream and head towards the church, the ruins of Minster Lovell Hall are to the right.
After exploring the ruins (and possibly taking a stroll to the Dovecote) leave the ruins through the graveyard and to the opposite side of the church and follow the road back to the recreation ground car park.

If you have walking children or a baby carrier and would like a longer walk the following AA walk is good

Sunday 14 March 2010

Cowleaze Wood, Stokenchurch

Approx time: 1 hour
Paths: mud
Points of interest: open areas, picnics, trees, wildlife, red kites, scenery, sheep
Amenities: large car park, no toilets, often an ice cream van in the summer
Grading: 3 wheeler/all terrain only, baby carrier would be better
Weather: dry
This was once known as the sculpture trail but after funding was withdrawn they were all removed in 2008, it’s still a good walk though.
There is a circular walk starting from the north end of the car park, there used to be picnic benches here but they have also been removed. Just follow the mud track through the wood, lots of little short cuts and detours to take along the way.
On the west side of the road is the Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve. We haven’t yet done any of these walks but there is an information board at the car park with details of the various walks.

Thursday 25 February 2010

Christ Church Meadow, Oxford

Approx time: 1 hour
Paths: gravel
Points of interest: open areas, picnics, trees, wildlife, birds, scenery, river
Amenities: very limited parking in Oxford city centre, no toilets but cafes close by
Grading: suitable for all pushchairs
Weather: Good for all seasons
Warning: open water along most of the walk
Enter Christ Church Meadow from the west side through the memorial garden from St Aldate’s. These are the only gates wide enough for pushchairs to get through. Walk through the gardens and past Christ Church College on your left. This is a circular walk first following the boundary of Christ Church and Merton College, followed by the river Cherwell and then the River Thames and back to the memorial gardens.

Depending on the time of year there may be sports being played on the college sports field, rowing on the river and cattle grazing on the meadow.

The Oxford Botanical Gardens can be accessed from the Rose Lane Gate, but you have to pay to enter (you will have to fold down the pushchair to get through Rose Lane Gate). The Colleges are open most days to the visiting public but again you have to pay to enter.

Friday 29 January 2010

Neptune Woods, Northmoor Trust, Long Wittenham, Oxfordshire

Approx time: 45mins
Paths: mud and gravel paths
Points of interest: open areas, trees, wildlife, birds, scenery
Amenities: car park, no toilets
Grading: any pushchair, designed for wheelchair access
Weather: Good for all seasons
Neptune Woods was planted in 2006 by local children. The woods are to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar (Neptune being one of the ships) with each tree representing a crew member. There are various types of trees all of which would have been used to build boats at the time. There are boards around the walk with more information.
The walk goes in a figure of 8, so for tired little legs you don’t have to go far. There is a bench at the half way point for a breather. There is a small pond and stream along the walk.
There are Willow tunnels and shapes beside the car park (as of 2009/2010) which are good for kids to run around.