Walking in England - Path, Towpath, Trail Hiking Guides for Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire.
England has a really well mapped network of National Trails and Footpaths to walk along plus miles of beautiful Canals and Rivers to enjoy for towpath walks in the countryside.
Below you will find descriptions for a variety of walks in England (around 21 of them) plus photographs from around the Chilterns which might be of interest and wish to just go sightseeing). These walks generally work out around 8 to 12 miles - although there are a couple of heavys described too - they are mostly circular and often incorporate hiking along parts of several National Trails.
These Trails include The Ridgeway National Trail, The Oxfordshire Way, The Icknield Way and The South Bucks Way as well as parts of the eternally wandering Grim's Ditch
- plus along the River Thames and parts of the 185 miles of Thames Path National Trail. There also walks a little further north from where we live - around Market Harborough and Welford which may be of interest too.
The walks visit amongst other places Blenheim Great Park, Woodstock, Thame, Goring, Henley, Islip, Reading, Maidenhead, Marlow and not forgetting the lovely little Rycote Chapel
(near Thame). By definition these ancient long National Trails simply go from A to B and are pretty much impossible to get lost on. Walking their whole distance involves having
transport available at each end and either diverting off to find bed-and-breakfast accommodation or perhaps camping along their routes unless there are local trains or buses serving the various locations.
An alternative way of walking these National Trails is to do it in sections by walking circulars and accumulating parts of the route over a period of time. We have in fact
organized our various walks so that you can cover quite reasonable parts of the various trails simply by following the circular walks descriptions.
Walking Gear and Possible Hazards when hiking in England.
Everyone has their preference for what to have on their feet when out rambling but certainly some of these
walks really do require walking boots
or at least wellies rather than simply trainers. For instance the Oxfordshire Way Trail is quite often really wet in places - it just seems to have a remarkable ability in finding underground springs on it's route - so sometimes you can be walking through deep slippery mud patches.
It is also of note how quickly the weather can change especially in the winter - we have set out on The Ridgeway Trail in reasonably warm conditions, then ended up being snowed on a few hours later so again taking a bit of appropriate gear is
worth while - The Ridgeway is surprisingly isolated in places especially towards the Wiltshire end (Avebury area etc.). Also we usually take a walking pole
with us particularly when we expect to be walking across fields where they may be cows
and sometimes even bulls grazing.
In England public footpaths and Rights of Way are by law not meant to be blocked or obstructed or create any sort of hazard to walkers however young
cattle in particular have a habit of running towards you. This is simply because they are inquisitive. However 20 or 30 calves racing towards you is a bit of a hazard in
that (we know) sometimes they forget they have to actually stop in time - what they do tend to
respect and pay attention too is a stick being waved at them.
Remember also that normally docile cows can become somewhat concerned and even aggressive when they have very young calves with them so give them plenty
of room. Obviously dangerous bulls
are not allowed to wander freely where public access is permitted however you can come across a bull now and again. The one thing that might just help you should
you come across a bull is by having a stick or walking pole - bulls know about sticks and respect them (again usually!.
Walking routes and Places visited - miles = [ ]
Description of the walk - circulars unless otherwise indicated.
Some climbs and it undulates, track and Ridgeway Path walk
Couple of steepish climbs, else undulating
Several steep climbs, track and path
Several steep climbs, beautiful tracks and paths for walking
Marsworth Locks - fairly flat but somewhat bumpy in the middle of this walk.
Track and woods, several climbs - partly on the Ridgeway Trail
Several climbs at the start of this walk then it undulates
Bumpy - Ridgeway, a Hill Fort, Wendover Canal Arm towpath
Bumpy - woods paths+tracks. Uses The Ridgeway Trail
Starts flat then 2 climbs, uses the Grand Union Canal towpath + Ridgeway
Circuit partly on the Ridgeway trail via Wendover woods. There are 2 climbs.
Visits The Astons and uses the Oxford Canal towpath
Start of the Oxford Canal to Lower Heyford - one way
A walk partly along the Oxford Canal enjoying the canal's beautiful towpath
Another circular walk which uses The Oxford Canal
Grand Union Canal towpath - woods - undulating
via Dorchester, then The Thames Path - mostly flat (apart from the Clumps)
Undulates - along the Oxfordshire Way - includes Blenheim Great Park
Some steep climbs, undulating, walk along the Thames Path a little way
Fairly flat - The Oxfordshire Way. This is a ONE Way walk.
Track and woods - quite bumpy! - uses the Oxfordshire Way Trail
Track and forest, mostly easy walking
Flat, meadows, along Thame river, woodland
Undulates - uses the Oxfordshire Way and the Oxford Canal towpath
Circular walk in The Chiltern Hills with millions of bluebells in the Spring
Another walk enjoying England's Bluebells (when they are out of course)
Napton, Marston Doles, Fenny Compton, Claydon, Cropedy and Banbury
Covering Shuckburghs, Braunston, Brinklow, Ansty, Hawkesbury/Norton Jncs
Inglesham/Lechlade to Radcot Bridge (one way)
Thames Path from Radcot to Newbridge
Kings Lock back into Oxford City ONE WAY
Along the Thames Path in Oxfordshire - ONE WAY, muddy in wet weather
Mostly flat - Thames Path, nice overgrown tracks
Thames Path, across country then the Thames Path back from Abingdon
Culham Cut and Lock to Wallingford via Benson ONE WAY
Wallingford to Reading and Caversham via Goring ONE WAY
Thames Path, via Henley, Marlow - ONE WAY easy and lots to look at.
From Maidenhead Bridge via Boveney, Windsor and Runnymede to Staines.
Staines via Weybridge and Kingston to Kew Bridge along The Thames Path.
Our River Thames Locks and Weirs
and River Thames Old Bridges
topics do not contain walks instructions but have lots of photos of the locks, bridges and weirs which can be seen on the River Thames whilst walking along parts of The Thames Path.
The instructions for the walks are for guidance although we believe them to be accurate however of course a good Ordnance Survey Explorer map
should be carried/utilised as well.
We have taken quite a few GPS readings on the
way round some of these walks because it's great fun to load a map into the computer and plan a route, load it into the GPS, then when the walk is finished load the actual tracking back into the PC and see the results on the map
- particularly the bit where you went wrong on the walk!. GPS is setup on British Grid and to OSGB rather than Latitude/Longitude since our U.K. maps are designed and most easily followed using this setting.
Quite apart from the lovely countryside around the area when walking it is always worth slight diversions to look at the churches in the various villages, some of which are very old. In addition at the appropriate time of year we have the "pre-Spring warning" of snowdrop displays
followed by the massive displays of bluebells doing their thing in the woods - for example up at Christmas Common. Then there are the fantastic autumn leaf displays for which Wendover Woods is justifiably famous.
As far as wildlife is concerned The Chilterns is full of all sorts to enjoy - particularly we have a thriving population of Red Kites. For instance around Thame (Oxfordshire) it is very unlikely that you will fail to see at least 5 or 6
and quite often 30 or more of these wonderful birds flying around often at tree height. Other locations to expect to spot these Red Kites is around Christmas Common and up at Stokenchurch. If you are happy to go walking then another
good place to spot Red Kites is around Stonor Deer Park where in addition you often see hawks and buzzards as well as owls, woodpeckers and many other bird species.