Walking has been a saviour in these lockdown times. Despite it being the middle of winter our opportunity to get out for daily exercise has never been more welcome. However, you’ve probably discovered that all-weather routes, such as the railway embankment, are incredibly busy and countryside footpaths are very muddy!
The solution? Time to explore Didcot. Most of the paths are quieter, they’re reasonably accessible and you might even discover new parts of the town.
This week’s route is a circular route which starts from the Civic Hall (although it’s easy to join at any point on the route).
From the Civic Hall
Start from the Civic Hall car park. With your back to the Broadway walk down Britwell Road until you reach Smallbone Recreation Park on your left. Take the path diagonally across the park towards Manor School, then follow the footpath down between Ladybirds Pre School and the Meadows Care Home until you reach Lydalls Close. Cross the road, and continue down the alley on the opposite side of the road. Cross over Manor Road too, continue along the alley to Lydalls Road. There are some lovely old houses on Lydalls Close and Lydalls Road, including the one in the feature photograph.
Once on Lydalls Road, turn right and follow it to the very end. You’ll cross Haydon Road, before eventually arriving on Station Road. On Station Road, cross at the pedestrian crossing, and walk through Cow Lane Bridge, under the railway line, to Ladygrove.
Under Cow Lane Bridge
Immediately upon exiting the bridge, turn left and follow the track so that the railway line is on your left. Pass the skate park and take the next right turn, down to Bowmont Water. Cross straight over the roundabout onto Avon Way. Walk past Ladygrove School, and then keep an eye out for this little garden on your right:
Shortly after the garden you’ll reach the paved track that branches off to your right, under the pylons. Take this track until you reach the path which diverts up to Ladygrove Hill.
Up Ladygrove Hill and around the lakes
If you’re feeling energetic walk up the hill to the solitary standing stone on top. It’s a good place for a breather, and one of the best places to get a good view over Didcot. Once you’ve finished retrace your steps to the bottom of the hill.
Continue walking in the same direction as previously. You’ll pass the first of the Ladygrove Lakes on your left. Turn left down the path between the two lakes and stop for a while to see the ducks and any other wildlife. At the end of the lakes, turn right, and then right again. Follow the paved track all the way back towards Cow Lane Bridge; the playground and tennis courts will be on your right hand side.
When you reach Cow Lane cross the road and take the track which runs alongside the railway line (in the opposite direction from earlier). Follow this until you reach Grafitti Bridge. I’m not sure if this is its official name, but everyone I know calls it this, you’ll see why! Go through the tunnel, checking out the artwork, and walk up on to Hitchcock Way, near the Aldi supermarket.
Along route 544
Cross Hitchcock Way at the pedestrian crossing, and then almost immediately cross the Broadway. Turn left, cross the entrance to Roebuck Ct towards Jubilee Way. Just before you reach the road follow the slope up to your right, signposted as Sustrans route 544. Follow the cycle route, veering right at the end to reach Hagbourne Road. At Hagbourne Road turn right, and then left into Kynaston Road. Follow Kynaston Road, crossing Mereland Road, until you reach St Andrew’s Road. Turn right here, and then first left on to Wessex Road. At the end, turn right on to Newlands Avenue until you reach the Broadway. Turn left, past the fire station and library until you reach the Civic Hall, your starting point.
Click on the map to view a larger version.
Start and end point: Civic Hall, Britwell Road, Didcot. OS grid reference: SU521900. What3words: decanter.snares.utter
Distance: Approximately 6.3 km, 3.9 miles. Slightly shorter if you don’t walk up Ladygrove Hill.
Terrain: Mostly pavements and off road paved paths. Generally accessible for scooters, wheelchairs and buggies with the exception of the optional ascent of Ladygrove Hill. The track around Ladygrove Lake may be a little muddy, but you can avoid this.
Refreshments: none directly on route, but Didcot is your oyster afterwards! There’s a Co-Op just off the route, by the Ladygrove Lakes.