Time for another lockdown walk around Didcot. This week’s walk explores three ponds on (and near) the Great Western Park development in Didcot.
Starting the walk
From the Co-op garage on Wantage Road, cross the road to The Wheatsheaf Pub and turn left. Pass a couple of houses and then turn right down the alleyway. Follow this until you reach Drake Avenue, then cross the road and continue down the alleyway to reach a large green known as Stubbings Land. Follow the footpath along the left hand side, next to the houses, to the far end. Continue walking along the alley way, crossing over Portway; follow this path on to the Great Western Park development until you reach Bluebell Lane.
Onto Great Western Park
Walk straight on, along Bluebell Lane to reach Diamond Drive. Turn right, and then first left down Aspen Way. Take the right down Guelder Rose, and then circle around the pond. This is the largest pond on today’s walk; take the steps down to the pond edge for a closer look, but be aware the ground is pretty wet underfoot.
At the far side of the pond take Sage Drive and follow to the end of the road. Turn right on to Sorrel Crescent, then follow it as it leads into Moreland Road. Pick up the gravel track until you reach the main B4493 Didcot-Harwell Road. On your left hand side, once past the community centre, the trees are full of birds; definitely worth a short stop to see what you can spot.
Around the UTC
Cross the B4493 and pick up the gravel track again on the opposite side. Although you can cross the road directly here, it’s safest to make a small detour and cross at the lights, particularly if you have children. Follow the gravel track left around the perimeter of the University Technical College (UTC). As of February 2021 part of the track is flooded for a short stretch. It’s passable in trainers either side of the puddle, but don’t wear your best shoes! There are lovely views to your left, although it’s surprising how close the A34 is.
Follow the track until you reach Pennyroyal Place. Turn right when the road bends sharp. When Greenfinch Road branches off to your left, take the path that runs parallel to it, a few metres away. Follow this path, past the playground areas, until you reach a small crossroads by the end of the fence. Turn left and slightly back on yourself and walk down to the road. Cross the road and take the gravel path directly opposite. Follow it down a slope and around until you reach a sharp left hand bend. At this point, turn sharp right back up to the houses. (As an aside, I must check where the path goes if you continue following to the left; it led down to a large flooded section on the day I visited so I was unable to explore further).
When the gravel path meets tarmac, turn left onto Kestrel Way. Follow this until the road bends right. Take the gravel path, walking parallel to the wire fence on your left, straight onto Lisa Head Avenue. Continue on to Gary O’Donnell Drive. These road names (and five others) honour Army bomb disposal soldiers who lost their lives in the course of their work. Follow the road until it bends right and then take the tarmac path at the bend and follow it as it curves up beside the trees and benches. Walk along Ash Way until you reach a footpath off to your left, to join the main road.
The second pond
Turn left on to Sir Frank Williams Avenue and follow the road downhill towards the A4130. Cross straight over the mini roundabout. The second pond of this walk is found on your left; it’s my favourite on Great Western Park. In summer, the whole area is alive with butterflies, flowers and birds but things are a little quieter (and muddier!) in winter. Aside from the traffic roaring past….
When you’ve finished at the pond retrace your steps back up Sir Frank Williams Avenue and then follow this main road all the way back through Great Western Park. It turns into Greenwood Way near Boundary Park; continue on past the shops and UTC, until you once again reach the Didcot-Harwell Road. Turn left here and follow Wantage Road back to your start point. You can, if you wish, take a short detour to the last pond on the walk, Pill Pond. This is found almost directly opposite the turning for Slade Road, there’s a small footpath which leads through the trees to gain access. Some Didcot residents probably have great memories of misspent youth spent around this pond!
After you’ve finished at Pill Pond, retrace your steps to Wantage Road, turn right back to your starting point.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk. If so, you might also like my walk around old Didcot and Ladygrove.
Click on the map to view a larger version.
Start and end point: Co-op garage on Wantage Road, Didcot. OS grid reference: SU516898. What3words: vegans.cubed.soups
Distance: Approximately 7.3 km, 4.5 miles. Total ascent 50 metres.
Terrain: Mostly gravel path and pavements. Muddy paths around the lakes (after rain).
Refreshments: Costa Coffee on Great Western Park. There are also takeaways and the Station Garden pub.