Ironstone country

On the last day of British Summer Time I walked around Great Tew in the ironstone country of north-west Oxfordshire.  Mini-escarpments crinkle the landscape, with rich red-brown soils.


Looking east from near Hill Farm, South Newington

I walked with my friends from university, Mary Alexander and Drusilla Belfield and her dog Janet.


Drusilla, Mary and Janet near Upper Grove Ash Farm

Although this was a social occasion, I kept an eye out for path problems.  The paths cross large fields in a purposeful manner; they had been newly disturbed and not yet marked out (the law allows 14 days after the first disturbance for the reinstatement of a cross-field path).  I have reported some missing waymarks to Oxfordshire County Council as well as the need soon to mark the path shown below.


The footpath on the black line between SP 413297 and 421299 has not been marked across the field and it needs a waymark.

Where the cross-field path is a track used by vehicles the farmer has found it convenient to leave it unploughed.  I wish more paths were like this.


We had lunch at the top of a hill with a view north west to Bloxham spire.


On the way back I noticed on the map a white road marked as ‘South Drive (Path)’ on the Ordnance Survey map, running west from grid reference SP 402303 to the B4022.  A footpath joins it part way along so it must be a public highway, but it has a misleading sign.

5-south-drive This will need researching before 2026 when the definitive map of rights of way is closed to applications based on historic evidence, it is possible that public rights on this route might then be extinguished.

To the south is another route marked as ‘Mill Lane (Track)’ which also has a footpath joining it but has no clear status.  Although there is no private sign, it still needs to be researched.


It was only a six-mile walk but it took in a variety of landscapes.


Upper Grove Ash Farm


The footpath back to Great Tew

At the end of the walk I visited the church.  Great Tew is an estate village.


The church has a fine Norman door and mediaeval wall-paintings.


There is an impressive seventeenth-century gateway.

11-gatewayIt was a good way to spend a muted, autumn day, among golden colours and red-brown soils.


About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
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