A nice long Circular Walk out of Islip in England.

The following describes a 17 mile walk in Oxfordshire which visits Kidlington, then along The Oxford Canal towpath followed by The Oxfordshire Way through Kirtlington and Weston-on-the-Green.

Important Note: The route of the Oxfordshire Way path is shown on (at least up to) the 1999 OS map as crossing the A34 in the wrong place (The later OSGB (2006) Explorer 180 Oxford shows the Trail correctly. The Oxfordshire Way from Weston on the Green via Staplehurst Farm and on to Islip has been diverted to avoid you having to traverse the highly dangerous A34 which at the shown crossing point means trying to get over a busy dual carriageway. Instead you now go past Knowles Farm and onto the B430 and get over the A34 on a bridge. The map used on this walk is the O.S. Explorer 180 Oxford.
Should you decide to use the original route via Staplehurst Farm note that the paths are heavily overgrown with nettles and bramble etc, very difficult to walk and poorly/not way-marked. This is quite a long walk at 17 miles - generally quite flat as it goes via fields, some woodland and a nice trek along part of the Oxford Canal - we think this canal is one of the most scenic in our area with it's beautiful trees, shrubs, wild flowers and small "one barge at a time" locks.
The River Ray (eventually The River Cherwell) at Islip.The walk starts at Islip - on the B4027 (from Stanton St John) as you cross the river at Islip turn right onto a side road and on the immediate right you can park your car in the (at time of writing anyway) free car park.
Turn left out of the car park and walk ahead along the (one way) B4027 - this road very soon turns sharp right however keep straight ahead now on Mill Street and take the next right into Church Lane. Pass the church and then turn left onto Kidlington Road - follow this quiet road as it crosses the railway line and continue until it bends sharply right. Around 100m after the bend look for and take an unmarked faint path on the left. This path crosses a field and then arrives at a high hedgerow - continue in the same direction and keep the hedgerow on your right as you head towards some trees. As you get to the trees a small brook starts on the right, the area is full of high nettles and the path is hardly visible. Just as the way ahead is blocked by a small river turn right and cross over the brook via a small plank bridge - turn left and head again through high nettles and foliage towards and then under the A34. From here thankfully the path is clear - follow it across fields to reach a road on the outskirts of Kidlington. Cross the road and then turn left on a pavement now heading into the town - shortly after crossing Gosforth Bridge take a path on the right signposted "Kidlington Circular Walk".
Path from Kiidlington heading towards The Oxford Canal.Kidlington - The Church of St. Mary the Virgin.Follow this signed path as it goes via several estate roads - the route soon leaves the houses and arrives at a t-junction - with a high wall in front of you. Turn right and then take a path on the left by a stone wall marked to "St Mary's Church". A little way along the path forks, here take either option to continue along to the church - the left fork being the most direct. Kidlington's St Mary the Virgin church is quite a large affair and well worth a wander around - it has an extensive graveyard, one of the most beautifully kept we have seen.
Leave the church by it's main gate, turn right and keep straight ahead on a footpath now with the graveyard on the right and heading towards Thrupp. The path continues in a westwardly direction crossing fields - ignore cross paths.
At a hedgerow the way ahead appears blocked, simply turn right then shortly turn left through the hedge and cross a field to reach an old railway bridge. Cross it and stay ahead over another field to soon arrive at the Oxford Canal by Sparrowgap bridge. Cross the canal and join the towpath by walking through the pub's outside garden area. Turn left onto the towpath and fairly soon arrive at Thrupp's swing bridge. Cross the bridge - the towpath continues now with the canal on the left.
Sparrowgap Bridge crossing The Oxford Canal. The towpath on the Oxford Canal outside of Thrupp. Shipton-on-Cherwell's Holy Cross Church. Oxford Canal - Enslow Bridge.
Follow the towpath now heading towards Shipton-on-Cherwell - when you reach a nice little canal bridge perhaps take a diversion by crossing over the bridge and walk the short distance up to look at Holy Cross church. Back on the towpath continue along enjoying the countryside - even the large chimney and buildings of a huge cement works don't spoil the view. Go under a railway bridge and then look out across the fields on the right for Hampton Gay's church of St Giles.
Oxford Canal view from Pigeon Lock's Bridge.There is a footpath which appears to head towards the church but you cannot reach the church since the river blocks the way. The River Cherwell appears on the right as you reach Shipton weir Lock - here the canal and river join forces and the towpath continues on the left.Follow the River/Canal along through probably even more impressive countryside - shortly after going under a railway bridge the River and Canal part company - cross over the river via an impressive iron footbridge and simply continue along the towpath. The canal goes on via Enslow (where the River Cherwell reappears below on the left) - yet again the countryside is a delight to walk through. A little way after passing Pinsey Bridge the canal straightens and then arrives at Pigeon Lock - a perfect spot to stop for lunch at around 14km into the walk.
Cross the canal via the bridge - now on the Oxfordshire Way National Trail - and stay on this wide dirt track all the way to reach a small road on the outskirts of Kirtlington. Follow the road as it bends slightly right to reach a main road.
Weston on the Green's church of St Mary the Virgin The Oxfordshire Way nearing Kirtlington. Turn right soon going past a school and then a public house - as the main road bears right cross over to the Green opposite (the Oxfordshire Way is also signposted). If you like looking at nice churches you can divert here to have a look at/round Kirtlington's church of St. Mary the Virgin - a small lane leads to St. Mary's from the far side of the Green. To continue the walk take the small village road leading away from the Green - this becomes a path after a short while. The path is clearly marked and continues in an almost straight line across fields - Kirtlington Park is on the left and there is a small lake on the right - ignore all side and cross tracks - just follow the Oxfordshire Way signs to finally reach Weston on the Green's church of St Mary the Virgin.
Apart from St. Mary's being a great looking church with lots of features the churchyard is surrounded with trees - not just the usual yews but also some beautifull horse chestnuts - and to add to all this there is a very convenient bench seat.
Weston on the Green's church of St Marys. Oxfordshire Way small bridge outisde of Kirtlington. Gates to where? leaving The Oxfordshire Way. Very grown up hedging and style on the beautiful Oxfordshire Way
Leave the church by it's main entrance and cross the road onto a small lane/track opposite - follow this then as it bends right look for a footbridge on the left hidden in the hedgerow. Once over the bridge follow the path which more or less follows the left-hand hedgerow as it passes Weston-on-the-Green Manor's grounds (including it's large wrought iron gate). Continue along the field edge to reach another bridge on the left, cross this now with the Knowles Farm ahead of you. The Oxfordshire Way goes half right across the field to reach the hedged corner of the farm, then continues across the field to reach a stile by a woods Go through this fairly narrow strip of woodland and then continue across another field to reach a stile by the public house's car park. At the road turn left and then almost immediately cross over to take the tarmac road which soon crosses the noisy A34. On the far side of the bridge take a small road on the right and then immediately take a farm road on the right heading to Oddington Grange. Follow this narrow road - it eventually turns sharp left then around half a kilometre past the bend look out for and take a path on the right which heads for a footbridge. At our time of walking this path was not marked and the footbridge was barely visible but you can see two low stiles across the field. Head for the right hand stile, cross and then continue straight ahead to another stile/footbridge on the far side.
Oxfordshire Way - oilseed rape - high, wet, full of bugs and pollen. Shaded route over a rickety footbridge on The Oxfordshire Way. Field style near Islip on the Oxfordshire Way. Islip - Lower Street.
From here the Oxfordshire Way Trail is mostly clearly marked and easy (but often very muddy) to follow. When the path emerges on a small farm road (Barndon Farm) the path markings are obscured - turn right then around 50 metres along turn left next to a hedgerow into a field Simply follow the marked path first with the hedgerow on the left then eventually on the right - to reach a railway line.
Carefully cross the line then head right along the track and shortly turn left to pick up the path again. It may be worth noting if pollen is a problem for you that when we last walked this route two of the fields were planted with oilseed rape and the plants were heading upwards of 5 feet high. The amount of bugs let alone the pollen made for interesting breathing for a while.
Now simply follow the path almost always directly ahead to finally reach a small stream - just after crossing this turn left and follow the field on into Islip. At the road go left to the road junction, cross over to go into Lower Street and follow this back to the car park.
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