Lockdown walks in Didcot: Great Western Park to Harwell circular

This is a circular walk, along the newly (re)opened track from Great Western Park in Didcot to Harwell. The route follows Cow Lane into Harwell and returns along the main road back to Didcot.

I ‘discovered’ this route a couple of weeks ago, whilst walking the Great Western Park pond circular. Whilst it’s accessible as of March 2021 it will likely be impacted by future Valley Park housing development, so do be aware of this.

Starting point

Gravel path from GWP towards Harwell
Gravel path from GWP towards Harwell

Start from the traffic lights outside the University Technical College (UTC), on the corner of Greenwood Way and the main B4493. Walk towards Harwell, along the main road for a short distance. When the paved path runs out walk along the gravel track as it circles right around the back of the UTC.

Follow the track until you reach Pennyroyal Place, cross the road and continue on along the newly opened gravel track, passing the skate park. Follow the gravel path as it bends left down a slope and around until you reach a sharp left hand bend. Turn left here and head slightly downhill.

Follow the footpath straight ahead, alongside fields and through a small wooded area. This is the newly opened section; there are footpath signs to direct you so route finding is straightforward.

GWP to Harwell path
GWP to Harwell path

In due course you will reach a T-junction. Sadly there was a fair amount of litter and some fly tipping when I came this way last week but I have reported the lawnmower in the brambles so hopefully it will be removed soon.

Caution

At the T-junction do not  make the same mistake as me!  I decided to turn right and took the path out to meet the busy A4130, with a view to returning on another footpath back to Harwell. Two barbed wire fences (with broken stiles) and a lack of safe A34 crossing stopped me. Follow the route below instead.

Turn left at Cow Lane

Cow Lane, Harwell
Cow Lane, Harwell

Turn left at the aforementioned T-junction along Cow Lane towards Harwell. You will now follow a long straight track, safely crossing the A34 via a bridge. The track eventually leads into Townsend, in Harwell. Continue walking straight on along Townsend until you reach the main road through Harwell (by The Hart of Harwell). Turn sharp left and follow the B4493 all the way back to your starting point in Didcot.

Have you walked this route? Let me know what you think.

Walk information

Route from GWP, Didcot to Harwell
Route from GWP, Didcot to Harwell

Click on the map to view a larger version.

Start and end point: UTC Oxfordshire, Greenwood Way, Didcot. OS grid reference: SU506896 What3words: molars.horses.imparting

Distance: Approximately 4.9km, 3 miles. Total ascent 39 metres.

Terrain: Mostly gravel path and pavements, although path between GWP and Cow Lane can be muddy after rain.

Refreshments: Costa Coffee on Great Western Park. There are also takeaways and the Station Garden pub. Hart of Harwell pub in Harwell.

9 Replies to “Lockdown walks in Didcot: Great Western Park to Harwell circular”

  1. The fly-tip you reported has been cleared, but Biffa only took bulky items – there’s still a lot of litter there.

    Were you referring to the other marked north-south footpath (Oxfordshire 243/3) that goes south from the A4130 just east of New Farm? If so is any of this accessible through fields as far as the missing A34 crossing?

    (I’m planning a new page to my Didcot Trees website when I’ve found out what’s happening about the trees on the valley Park site)

    1. Hi Geoff, I noticed this morning the lawnmower had gone but they’d left the litter, am tempted to report it again.

      Yes, that’s the footpath. It is accessible but the two stiles are broken so wear barbed-wire proof trousers (I’ve reported these too). The stile which takes you out onto the A34 is intact, but I would never risk it.

      1. Harwell parish council keeps on eye on footpaths, but less so on #3 because it effectively goes nowhere since it was cut off by the A34. (south of the A34 it was diverted to Townsend/Cow Lane).
        https://www.harwellparish.co.uk/parish-footpaths/
        I think Valley Park master plan commits to retaining this as a right of way, but short term it doesn’t help much for checking out the trees.

  2. Thanks. I agree – report it again – Biffa may have separate teams that deal with fly-tipping and litter.

    There are lots of oaks on the west side of Valley Park, and I’m keen to at least photograph them from a distance without trespassing. Is there any part of footpath 243/3 I could get to, and where would I access it from?

    1. You can access the first part of the path from the A4130 – you can park in the lay-by often used by lorries to save walking all the way out. If I remember rightly you can cross the first field easily, no stile. The first stile isn’t too bad either as only half is collapsed. The second one is difficult.

    2. Somewhere within the Valley Park planning application there are maps and tables listing every tree and hedgerow on the site.
      Sustainable Harwell tree planting group are starting to think about all the hedgerows in the parish, and will be keeping on eye on the Valley Park development to make sure that they keep to their commitments about which trees and hedgerows will be retained.
      https://sustainable-harwell.uk/

  3. Nice walk – strange walking it knowing all that countryside will become 4000 houses over the next 10 yes – but I guess that’s true of most of Didcot’s estates over the years

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