I walk with my Exeter University friends Mary Alexander and Drusilla Belfield (and Drusilla’s dog Janet) a couple of times a year. At the end of April, we did a circular walk from North Aston in north Oxfordshire. The walk used to be on the Cherwell District Council website but for some reason has been removed.
We started in the ironstone village by the village green (which I could not find on the Magic website, but is registered as VG112 according to this commons commissioner’s decision).
We walked south along Middle Aston Lane and almost immediately I came across two path problems—a bridleway which had been ploughed and not reinstated, and a gate which was impossible to open. I have reported both.
We turned east on the bridleway which took us to the canal, past a patch of reeds fizzing with sedge-warbler song. Then we walked northwards beside the Oxford Canal which was gloriously peaceful, and stopped for a long lunch-break there.
Soon Somerton church came into view.
I started a walk from Somerton in May last year with Stephen Russell from the Ramblers. We were reccying a route for a walk with the Banbury MP, Victoria Prentis. At that time she was an environment minister and we wanted to point out some issues on her doorstep. We found a number of path problems that day (which I reported), but unfortunately she was reshuffled before we had the chance to walk with her. (However, we would be happy to do so in any case.)
We joined the road west of Somerton. After passing Mill Cottage we turned north-east on a footpath across fields. Part-way along we came to an obstruction—a fence which had once been a stile. I have reported this too.
The views from this hillside were lovely, to the east we could see the railway viaduct near Souldern Grounds.
We came to a small wood, and I found that all the obstructions I reported on the walk last year were still there—the path was hidden under vegetation and obstructed by a dreadful stile. I have re-reported them, but it is irritating that it takes so long for path problems to be rectified.
A bit further on we came to a gate which was difficult. Another report.
Returning to North Aston we passed the ironstone well with a piece of poetry which doesn’t make a lot of sense (I wasn’t sure of the order of the lines):
As the birds drink and so lift up their head
So must man sit and think
he may attain to after he is dead
Of better drink.
It was a pleasant, leisurely walk in unsung countryside. I just need to get those paths sorted.
Awful that they still don’t get the thought that a good path network is brilliant for the local economy. Must say I’m impressed by the path network up here in Westmorland around is. Paths clear, well signed and good infrastructure – they are currently replacing a footbridge. If they can do it here they can do it anywhere. Friendly farmers too!