Stonor to Stonor walk going via Henley using The Thames Path and Oxfordshire Way National Trail in England.
The walk this starts on the B480 opposite the main entrance to Stonor Deer Park where this usually some parking available especially during weekdays. Remember to bring lots of bread since there are plenty of starving ducks (actually these ducks are fat little things and it's amazing they can actually fly..) and hungry swans to feed when you get down to Henley and the River Thames. OSGB map to use is Explorer 171 - also this googlemap of Stonor
may be of interest.
Facing Stonor Park go right along the road then shortly after passing a road on the right look out on the left for a signposted bridleway which goes between houses. Once past the houses the path heads very steeply up - the deer fence protecting the Park is on the left and low level woodland on the right. The path emerges on a farm road
- turn left and then go right at the road junction. Follow this narrow high hedged lane past several houses to then reach the entrance to Coxlease Farm. Turn right and follow the track past the barns and then the farmhouse (on the right). Continue along now on Assendon Ridge - this is a favourite walking area for us, the views are really good when it's not raining too hard!
In addition it is very unusual not to see lots of red kites showing off in the thermals on the Ridge. As the track ends bear right and follow the field edge to soon reach the edge of Paradise Wood.
The narrow path wanders through the woods with the
field edge close by on the left and heavy woodland to the right - this is yet another really nice path - especially in Spring. On leaving the woods carry on across the field - the path drops down to the road. Turn left and follow the road into Middle Assendon. Just after passing the very picturesque Rainbow Public House go left on a narrow road which after a
short distance reaches another road, turn left up this now going by houses on the right. Shortly take a path leaving off on the right - this is now marked as the Oxfordshire Way and it welcomes you by climbing very steeply up between high hedgerow and then emerges at a field edge. It still continues
climbing (but not as steeply) across the field to reach a hedgerow - continue along over two fields sometimes between wooden fences to reach a small road.
Cross the road and continue along the track passing a duck pond on the right. Now simply stay on the track, eventually passing several large houses at which point the track becomes more surfaced. Just after passing Henley Park House the track bears left but stay ahead going through a gate - this is still The Oxfordshire
Way and is clearly signposted. The path goes almost straight across fields which are usually populated with inquisitive sheep - then the path starts to descend and enters a small wooded area. At the far side of the woods bear right on a narrower path which then continues with a field on the right and a playing
fields on the left to finally arrive at the A4130 road just outside Henley. Turn left and follow the road - just after the Magistrate's Offices look out for and take a signed footpath on the left - this takes you between houses to arrive on the A4155. If you miss this path simply go on down to the roundabout and turn left onto the A4155 instead.
Cross the road and then just after the entrance to the Rugby club take a signposted path on the right - this will bring you down to the River Thames. Turn left and follow the river bank heading towards trees - the Thames is really wide
here and is well used by the rowing fraternity (there are quite a few rowing clubs at Henley of course) as well as by lots of pleasure boats and barges. The path continues through the trees and crosses a brook via a small wooden bridge and stone/brick archway and comes out on a grassy area where there are several seats - just about right for a lunch break. This is also very much "hungry duck" territory (as well as
equally and apparently starving gulls and swans etc.).
Continue over an inlet and then through a gate into a protected wetland area - note if it has been raining this can be very wet or even possibly flooded to some degree. Temple Island is clearly visible in the centre of the
Thames - shortly after passing it the path veers away from the river. It crosses over several wooden plank bridges and then goes half left across a field - passes over a small metal road - to eventually reach a stile by the main road.
Turn right and follow the road - when you get near to some buildings on the left carefully cross this often very busy road.
Continue along the main road and soon take a marked track on the left - continue along the track as it passes farm buildings and houses and heads into the hills. The track gently rises - when it splits keep straight ahead - the track now climbs a little more steeply - ignore side tracks and just keep winding up into the woods. This is
definitely red kite country - we have never been along here without seeing lots of them showing their flying skills. As the track starts to level out the valley below is packed with rhododendrons (depending on the weather but usually around May) - the area in this part of the woods (Great Woods) really is excellent for walking.
The track goes through fir trees and then reaches a track junction - take the left hand fork and almost immediately go left again on a marked narrow path - this climbs and winds up fairly steeply through the trees and becomes a sunken path. Continue along the path - the small trees either side almost make a tunnel - to eventually arrive at a farm drive.
Keep straight ahead along the drive to reach a road at Upper Woodend Farm. Turn right and follow the road to a T-junction, go straight across and over a stile into a field. Cross the field to the wood edge and then continue straight on through dense fir trees.
The path descends to cross a track and then climbs a steep short section to reach a field edge.
Continue along the field with a hedge on the left - when you reach a hollow surrounded by trees keep ahead aiming to the left of the buildings now visible. Go over the stile by the buildings and continue ahead to the road.
Cross the road and continue straight ahead on a wide track - this now part of the Stonor Estate. Go straight ahead at a track junction - the track now starts to descend and this is another area full of rhododendrons. Simply follow the track downhill and then go left on a marked path - soon going via a high fenced area and kissing gate. Stonor's large estate house soon comes into view on the right as well as other old buildings and a church. This is also deer country and of
course another red kite spotting area - there are also buzzards and other hunting birds often to be seen. Simply follow the path as it wanders along the top of the hillside and then eventually starts to descend quite steeply down to a gate. Turn right and go back along the road to shortly be at the original start point.
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