Churches and Bluebells Walk in Oxfordshire partly on The Ridgeway Trail.
This circular walk involves several quite steep climbs and is around 23kms (14 miles) long, visits 4 churches and goes through beautiful woods on paths and tracks.
The bluebells come out in England around late April and the beginning of May i.e. in The Spring and this walk starting from Cookley Green in South Oxfordshire will take you by millions of them. However at other times of the year this is a lovely walk to do - the trees and general walking area is simply beautiful to be in. The map relating to this
walk is Ordnance Survey Explorer 171 and the grid reference for the start of the walk is SU 696902. From Cookley Green's bus shelter (beside the B491) cross the road and then go half left across the Green and take the narrow road on the left (Church Lane) which goes towards Swyncombe. Just after reaching the edge of Church Woods there is a marked footpath on the left - this soon bears right through the woods where the first sign of bluebells will appear. Keep on the main path until reaching a field edge, go across the field towards
Swyncombe House, pass in front of the House and continue on to Swyncombe's Church of St. Botolph.
Go through the church grounds to a small parking area and turn left onto The Ridgeway National Trail - clearly marked with it's Acorn sign. After about 450m the Path turns left uphill over a field and then on up through a very steep wooded section (Jacobs Tent), round a field edge before reaching a farm. Here again bear left soon passing the mock Elizabethan House at Ewelme Park. Now always clearly marked as The Ridgeway Trail, continue along passing through small wooded sections and fields to finally reach the A4130 road.
On the opposite side of the road spot and use the steps (which can be quite hidden with undergrowth). Pass by some old houses and continue across Nuffield Common and Huntercombe Golf Course (the way is clearly marked with white posts) and then cross a field to reach the road near Nuffield's Holy Trinity Church which is just to the right. This is the end of The Ridgeway section of this walk. (If you are there around lunch time there are several bench seats available at the church.) Turn left on the road and then at the t-junction take the onward track which is across the road slight to the left. Follow this track as it goes between narrow woodland - this is a quite long section to walk and really beautiful to wander along. On reaching a cross track (the left track leads to Hayden Farm) keep straight head on a wide track which becomes hedged on one side and has trees on the other. It eventually bends right to reach Howberry Woods Farm - then just past the farm turn left and follow a narrow road which goes alongside woods and then climbs steeply before bearing
sharp left to then reach Nettlebed Church and the main road.
Turn right along the main road passing through the village - just after the road junction there is an old brick kiln on the opposite side of the road. Keeping along the verge of the main road soon reach a roundabout, turn right now on the B481. Go over to the other side of the road and around 250m along turn left off onto a wide footpath which takes you into Lower Common Woods. This is yet another long stretch through beautiful trees - intially it is a quite wide
path/track and then becomes more enclosed now with lots of bluebells both in the woods and also along the edges of the path. Ignoring any paths to the right, continue on the same path to eventually rejoin the road at Bix. Cross the road and turn right going past houses to reach the road junction to Bix on the left - this leads to St Jame's Church and the Common. To continue take the narrow lane to the left of the church and as the lane bends right take a footpath on the left which goes by houses to reach a field. A wide
clear path crosses the field - around halfway across there is a narrow cross-path. (A diversion to look at millions of bluebells? - go straight on and into the woods ahead and take a wander around the tracks - during "Bluebell Season" this wooded area is saturated with bluebells).
To continue the walk though, turn right on the abovementioned cross-path and walk over to reach Bush Copse - the path initially goes half left through the copse and is now always marked with white arrows. Eventually the slightly undulating
path becomes a wide track and then again becomes a narrow path and eventually reaches a field edge. Here go through the gate and continue steeply down across the field to another gate - go through the gate and turn right passing between Valley End Farm buildings to reach the narrow lane at Bix Bottom. Turn left along this high-hedged quiet narrow lane and soon pass the remains of St. James Church (the original church) on the left. Keep on the lane until arriving at Warburg Nature Reserve - the road ends here and the onward
track is on the left by the nature reserve car-park. This yeat another long section going between beautiful trees and countryside (and more bluebells) - on reaching a multi-signposted junction keep to the main track i.e. on the right. Follow this as it goes through the valley gradually climbing - ignore side tracks and paths - to then eventually arrive at a t-junction at the edge of the woods. Turn left and follow this narrow path on up to reach a gravel drive and then the road (B491) at Cookley Green - turn left along the
road back to the start point at the bus shelter.
Other walks which may be of interest starting more or less from the same area plus some Bluebell topics
Please take a look at our National Trail and Woodland Walks in England Home Page for more topics about England including circular walks on National Trails such as the Oxfordshire Way and The Ridgeway Path.