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 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".
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.
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.
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.
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.
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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