If you’re looking for a half day walk then this circular route from Didcot, via local villages, might be a good choice. You can also extend it by lunching at one of the pubs you’ll find along the way.
1. From the starting point at the Co-Op (details below) walk along Wantage Road towards Harwell. Continue straight on at the traffic lights beside the UTC and follow the footpath beside the B4493 as it crosses the A34 into Harwell.
2. Cross over Teasel Bank and continue on a little further until you reach a footpath off to your left (see photo below). Follow the footpath through to The Cleave. This path occasionally floods after heavy rain; if so, you’ll need to detour via the road to reach The Cleave instead.
3. Walk straight ahead along The Cleave, passing the cemetery on your left and the church on your right to reach Wellshead. Continue on again, until the first right turn, then follow this around and take the first left turn to Broadway. Follow Broadway all the way up to the A417 Reading Road. Although you think you’re about to hit a brick wall there are steps up to the main road!
4. Cross the A417 and immediately opposite walk up The Holloway. A Saxon cemetery was found near here in the mid-1960s; some of the remains can be seen in the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. Follow The Holloway uphill and on towards Chilton. This section can get a little muddy in wet weather but it’s always passable. At the crossroads, beside the trees and dog exercise field, carry straight on. This path takes you all the way into Chilton.
4. Follow the track under the A34, and up to the pedestrian crossing. Cross here, walk a few strides to your right and then take the first left into Townsend. Follow Townsend until it curves to the right. Turn left into Limetrees and then immediately right into Dene Hollow. Follow this road and then a gravel track. Pass paddocks and stables until you reach a T-junction with Lynch Way. There’s a convenient tree trunk here perfect for a rest, if you need one.
5. Turn left and follow Lynch Way downhill into Upton. At the bottom cross the A417 very carefully and then take Prospect Road until it meets Station Road. Turn right and follow the road into Fieldside. After the road bends right look out for a signpost on your left. Follow the track, along Chapel Furlong, down to the old Railway Bank. If the ground is particularly wet you may like to walk along the Railway Bank to return Didcot, otherwise continue with the instructions below.
6. Go under the Railway Bank bridge and turn right, following the footpath towards West Hagbourne. There’s a wooded area on your right, home to a few foxes. Cross the bridge over the stream (hard to see as it’s very overgrown) and take the left hand footpath beside the horse paddock. Follow to the end and turn left.
7. This brings you out beside West Hagbourne pond. Carefully cross the road, and turn right to follow Main Street (Didcot direction). At the bus shelter turn left along York Road, then right at the T-junction. Follow York Road until it turns left. Do not turn left, but continue straight on along the footpath to Didcot.
8. Follow the footpath, past the vineyard all the way to the outskirts of Great Western Park. This path can occasionally flood in winter, or become very muddy, so do consider the alternative Railway Bank option if there has been a lot of rain recently.
9. The walk now continues through Great Western Park, to return to the Co-Op. Continue straight ahead, walking on the concrete path beside the hedgerow. Cross Diamond Drive and walk down Box Tree Lane. When the road bends to the right, take the path off to the left. At the path T-junction turn right and follow this footpath the entire way back to Wantage Road. It crosses Portway, runs through Stubbings Land (the large park) and along the alleyway between Collingwood Avenue/Norreys Road, crosses Drake Avenue and finally brings you out on Wantage Road, almost opposite the Co-Op garage.
Click on the map to view a larger version.
Start and end point: Co-op Garage, 62 Wantage Road, Didcot. OS reference: SU516898 What3words: ///ranted.defaults.erase
Distance: Approximately 12.2 km (7.6 miles).
Terrain: Pavement, gravel tracks and fieldside footpaths . Route up from Harwell can be muddy after rain, as can section leaving West Hagbourne towards Didcot.
Refreshments: The walk passes near to pubs in Harwell, Chilton and Upton (short detours required for the first two options).