This walk is great on a long summer evening. Surrounded by skylarks, butterflies and wild flowers it’s hard to believe you’re only a few miles from Didcot.
1. From the grain dryer (see walk start instructions below) you’ll see two path options. Take the right hand path, continuing to walk in the direction that you’ve just driven. The field on your right often has deer in so keep an eye out for them. Do be aware this road is occasionally used by traffic (there’s a house on the right a little further along).
2. Continue along this track for 0.6 miles. At one point the path splits but it doesn’t matter which route you take as they both join up. In summertime look out for green hairstreak, skippers and blue butterflies along the wild flowers that line the path.
3. When you reach a large open area (and the wood on your left finishes) turn left. Pass through a gate which has a map of the access land you’re about to walk through.
4. You are now in Juniper Valley, a dry valley which is home, you’ve guessed it, to juniper scrub. It’s also home to Oxfordshire’s only population of pasque flower which flower around Easter (found in and around the wire enclosure on the left hand slope). As you walk along the valley you’ll notice that some of the downland has been scraped bare, this is part of conservation work to help regenerate the juniper. Do watch where you step as the rabbits have dug a myriad of burrows!
5. Follow the path as it leaves the valley and takes you up and out of the access land. You’ll pass through a large field which is usually home to sheep. If you’re very lucky you may hear curlew, which frequent this area.
6. At the top of the hill pass through a fence contraption (best way to describe it!) and then turn left along the track until you reach a T junction. Turn right at the junction, and follow this for 0.7 miles, until you reach the Ridgeway (go straight across at the crossroads).
7. At the Ridgeway turn sharp left, almost double backing on yourself, and follow the track uphill. Follow the Ridgeway for 1 mile. About halfway along there are paths branching off either side – make sure you stay on the Ridgeway (it can be a little confusing around here but the paths are signposted).
8. At the next crossroads (before the path splits) turn left and follow the path uphill, climbing towards Lowbury Hill. There are great views off to your right; it really feels like you’re in the middle of the countryside. To the left of the highest part of the path is the site of a Roman temple.
There is no official footpath to the trig point that stands on the summit of Lowbury Hill, so I am not going to include the route here. However there appears to be a recent gate installed which takes you along the edge of a field (of cows, usually) towards it. I’ll leave you to decide whether to take the detour!
9. The path now heads downhill, through a lovely tree lined section of track. At the crossroads head straight across, taking the path shown in the feature photograph at the top of this blog. Keep on this main track all the way back to your car (keep left when the path splits).
Click on the map to view a larger version.
Start and end point: Leave Blewbury on the A417 heading to Streatley. Turn right at the first crossroads, signposted to The Downs. Follow this road until the end (watch for potholes) then park next to the farm building on the right. Although I’ve never had an issue here it’s quite remote so do remove all valuables from your car. OS reference: SU 550844 What3Words: ///writers.shakes.shuttling
Distance: 5.3 miles, 8.5 km.
Terrain: footpaths and bridleway along chalk downland. Can be muddy and slippery after rain. Rutted and baked dry in the summer. The walk through Juniper Valley is riddled with rabbit burrows – watch your step!
Refreshments: None on route. Nearest are pubs and cafe in Blewbury.