An interesting and varied walk along the stream/river valleys of the River Glyme and a tributary, and through the park of a country house with several eccentric features. On the way, you can stop at a nature reserve of natural Cotswold limestone grassland. The first half of the walk follows Shakespeare's Way.
Calculated time is computed with the distance, the height difference, and an average speed of 2.2 mph. For an intermediate walker, this time includes small breaks.
Start : The start of the walk is at Church Enstone, just off the A44 between Woodstock and Chipping Norton.
(D/A) Starting from The Crown Inn, go down the lane (South-West), which becomes a private road. The footpath starts behind the last house on the right, then climbs the bank to the private road for Heythrop Park. Cross over, then aim for a gap in the hedge about 10m left of the farm gate. The footpath continues beside gardens, through a gap in the hedge, then bends slightly right across the field beyond (aim for a wooden electricity pole).
Cross the track (going slightly to the right) and continue along the left hand edge of the field beyond - the finger post points to 'Lidstone'. The footpath then bends slightly right to cross the field diagonally (a 'private' notice will make this clear), and aim for the left hand end of the tree avenue beside the road to Manor Farm. Cross over and enter the wooded area, and you will very soon reach a stone stile onto the A44.
(1) Cross the A44 carefully, over another stone stile, and go diagonally right (West) across the field heading for the right edge of the trees. Continue along the track to the edge of the field.
(2) The route across the next field is indistinct. The path enters the woods along the valley bottom around 50m before the far hedge - this is in the direction of the right hand of the two large trees in the distance. You will need to go diagonally down through newly planted saplings to a small gap in the hedge just to the left of a bushy Sloe tree, which is around 20m to the right of a small spindly tree that hangs into the field. A few metres into the wood, the remains of a gate will provide confirmation that you are on the right route. The path continues through the wood along the valley bottom, and is narrow but obvious, with the final section on boarding.
(3) Turn left (South-South-West) along the lane which climbs the hill to Lidstone. When the road bends left, turn right along the private road signposted to Stone Farm, and go straight through the farm. The bridleway then continues between hedges. After around 500m, go through two gates, then continue along the top of three grazing fields, parallel to the hedgerow.
(4) After these fields, go through a gate onto a track which descends into a small valley. As the track starts to rise, there is a field on the right with a gate and stile. Cross this field diagonally, and aim for the pedestrian gate when it comes into view. Continue across the ride and the corner of the opposite field, then join the gravel track that becomes a road through Old Chalford Farm.
(5) When you reach several large barns ahead of you, turn right and downhill on the farm access road (there is also a small finger post pointing back the way that you have come). After crossing the river (which is here dammed into ribbbon lakes), turn left and along the bottom of a narrow field.
Go through the gate at the end of the field, then immediately cross the river and continue along a track on the opposite side. At the end of this field, go through the gate and turn right on the track to the river. The nature reserve is the wooded area to your right.
(6) Continue along the track, then turn right through a gate onto a bridleway that follows the boundary of a golf course. Follow the boundary as it bends to the right and descends, then go through a gate. Continue along this path, which becomes a farm access track, until you reach the A44.
(7) Cross over and go through the entrance onto the access road to Chalford Park. Where thism road turns right, continue straight on to the bridleway beside a hedgerow, and follow them when they bend to the right. After around 1km, turn left at the T junction of tracks.
(8) This track soon turns right; go through the gate on the left by the corner and then godiagonally right across the field, aiming for the left of the trees. There are two large steel gates to cross a farm track, which are difficult to open - or you may need to climb over them. Then aim for the wooden gate at the far right hand corner of the second field. Alternatively, and more easily, you can continue along the track.
(9) Continue along the track (now concrete) with large barns on your right, then turn left at the end. Where this road bends left, continue straight across the grass to a gate in the hedge. then turn right across the field to the woods (The Wilderness).
(10) Continue downhill along this path until you meet a track, with a life belt on a post. Crsoss over the stream, then turn right across a corner of the golf course and re-enter the woods. Continue through the woods until you reach two small stone buildings on the left.
(11) Continue along this track until it emerges from the woods, then climb the grassy slope to the left of a modern building (Talbot Hall). Bear left to the main private road to Heythrop Park, then turn right along this road. Continue along the road (there is a wide grass verge for much of the way), until it descends, bends to the right, and there are crash barriers where it crosses a stream. About 100m beyond these barriers, there is a gap in the trees on the left, with a stile visible.
(12) Go over the stile, then ascend the hill to the right - the path goes through the hedgerow under the large round tree. Continue across the field beyond in the same direction, on a well-trodden path to an indistinct exit in the far corner. The path then descends to a stream along the right hand edge of a field, and climbs the other side bounded by a hedge and a fence. When you reach the graveyard, take the right fork to return to Church Enstone. (D/A)
D/A : km 0 - alt. 144m - Crown Inn, Church Enstone
1 : km 1.24 - alt. 158m - Stone stile by A44
2 : km 1.71 - alt. 153m - Wood - Valley bottom
3 : km 2.3 - alt. 149m - Lane to Lidstone
4 : km 3.86 - alt. 170m - Small valley
5 : km 4.31 - alt. 176m - Old Chalford Farm
6 : km 5.35 - alt. 181m - River Glyme
7 : km 6.7 - alt. 211m - A44 at Chalford Park
8 : km 7.86 - alt. 188m - Gate onto bridleway
9 : km 8.37 - alt. 180m - Concrete track
10 : km 8.95 - alt. 164m - Start of wood (The Wilderness)
11 : km 9.66 - alt. 162m - Follies in The Wilderness
12 : km 10.47 - alt. 141m - Footpath from private road to Heythrop Park
D/A : km 11.66 - alt. 144m - Crown Inn, Church Enstone
Start : The start of the walk is at Church Enstone, just off the A44 between Woodstock and Chipping Norton. If driving from Oxford, go through Enstone and down the hill, then turn sharp right onto the B4030 as the road starts to climb. The Crown Inn is just off this road on the left as you enter the hamlet of Church Enstone; there is a pub sign beside the road.
Parking : There is on-street parking on the B4030 through Church Enstone and in the lane beyond the Crown Inn. Please be considerate to residents.
Public transport : There is an hourly bus service 7 days a week along the A44 between Oxford and Chipping Norton (Stagecoach S3). Get off at the stop 'Enstone, The Harrow', then cross over the river and take the lane on the right. There is also a stop at Chalford Park - 'Southcombe, Chalford Oaks', so you can do the walk in two halves.
Note : The route is generally well marked, well trodden and maintained (with mown routes across many fields) - with one exception between (2) and (3) . In some places, there may be nettles beside the path in summer, so I recommend that you wear long trousers. Where the route marked on the map deviates from a public right of way, this is to follow the current route on the ground.
The first half of the walk follows Shakespeare's Way, from (D) to (6) .
Visorando and this author cannot be held responsible in the case of accidents or problems occuring on this walk.
(6) The Glyme Valley nature reserve is a remaining fragment of Cotwold limestone grassland on the south-facing slope to your right after crossing the River Glyme. It is open at all times.
The reserve has a rich variety of wildlife, including the parasitic yellow rattle - an indicator of old grassland untouched by chemicals or ploughing. This annual, which lives on grass roots, is named after the sound of its large seeds rattling inside the ripe seed pod. Other wild flowers include oxeye daisy, fairy flax, bee orchid and meadow crane's-bill. There are several large anthills, which also indicate undisturbed grassland.
The hawthorn scrub provides excellent habitat for birds, including blackcap, bullfinch and yellowhammer.
The reserve is managed by the Buckinghamshire, Berkshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust (BBOWT).
(10) - (11) The Wilderness: This wood has a large variety of tree species, and is the remains of an 18th century planted 'wilderness'. These were fashionable features in 17th century grand gardens, which showed the owners' power to contain nature within its hedges and compartments. They were intended as a Wilderness in the biblical sense of the word – for quiet contemplation and reflection and not a ‘wild garden’.
(11) - (12) The two stone buildings on the left of the path were built as points interest while walking in The Wilderness (there is a helpful information board by the second one). You will see more of these buildings and walled embankments as you walk through the grounds of Heythrop Park. The house and park are now a luxury leisure resort.
(12) As you approach Church Enstone, you may hear light aircraft taking off and landing.These will be from Enstone aerodrome, which is on the site of WWII RAF Enstone, a Bomber Command Operational Training Unit.
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