Whichford-Hook Norton-Whichford 29/06/13
This is quite a tricky blog to write. Ordinarily I come back from a walking trip full of enthusiasm and desperate to share great walks. However, this walk, from last weekend’s Cotswold adventure, wasn’t a complete success. Having said that, parts of it were enjoyable and so I’m still going to share it, if only to warn others of the potential pitfalls!
This circular walk starts and finishes at our campsite (review to follow) in Whichford, nr Shipston- on-Stour (CV36 5PH) via Hook Norton and an obligatory tour of the renowned brewery.
We headed out of the campsite and turned right down Roman Row. At the end of this cul-de-sac there is a gate which heads into a field; from here you can head right and follow the Macmillan Way to Whichford Wood, however we picked up the footpath which continues straight ahead. The path is a little overgrown to begin with, but once you get to the top of the slope it gets better. From here there are great views over some beautiful, green rolling countryside.
This walk boasted great views across the rolling countryside
We stayed on the footpath, passing Doctor’s Barn (a collection of farm buildings) and followed the clearly defined path downhill towards Gottenham Farm. This is a very impressive barn conversion, we couldn’t help but speculate on who would live in such a house!
Some paths were easy to follow…
The footpath skirts around the house and continues along the edge of the field. A bit further on we had our first problem. The footpath sign is located at the very corner of the field, through a small gap in the field edge and around a corner, which we unsurprisingly missed. So we carried on, turning right and continuing to follow the field edge. Although a novice map reader, I soon realised we were heading in the wrong direction, so we turned back to retrace our steps. It was a hot and humid day and this detour was not at all welcome! Anyway, more by luck than judgement, we stumbled upon the footpath and carried on the right track. This path was not particularly well trodden and a couple of times we were not sure where we were supposed to walk, however, I could see that the path passed by some farm buildings, so at least we were heading in the right general direction. We followed the footpath (more or less) until we reached the road.
Here we turned left and walked along the road for about ¾ of a mile, until reaching Wychford Lodge Farm, turning right we took the minor road towards Court Farm. We then took the bridleway that passes right by the farm and heads down to Hook Norton village. This is where the fun really started! The bridleway was so overgrown that it was almost impassable. Certainly no child, or horse for that matter, would have been able to get through. If we hadn’t had to get to the brewery for our tour, we would’ve turned back. Battling three foot high stinging nettles for almost a mile wasn’t fun and was very painful. It was a shame as the bridleway offered great views of the countryside, the village and the brewery. Reaching the road we turned left and headed to the brewery (which is clearly signposted).
The impressive Hook Norton Brewery building
Following our tour we headed out of the Visitor’s Centre and headed left, passing the main brewery building and picking up the footpath. After our previous battle, this footpath was much easier to follow and well maintained. We followed the path, turning left to follow the track past Fanthill Farm until we reached the road. Here, ignoring the footpath straight ahead, we turned left and then joined the bridleway on the right hand side. We stayed on the bridleway until we reached the road. Usually, when planning a route I try to avoid roads, however, after our navigation and stinging nettle issues, we were happy to simply turn left and follow the road through Ascott and back to Whichford.
Apart from the obvious problems, it was a lovely 6 mile walk across rolling countryside and gentle slopes. I just wish it had been more accessible.