Walks near Didcot: Unhill Wood circular, near Moulsford

This is one of my favourite local walks on the Downs. The start point is only a 10 minute drive from Didcot but once away from the road you soon feel miles from anywhere.

This walk starts from the small parking spot off the A417 between Blewbury and Streatley (see full details below). Be careful not to leave any valuables in your car. I would suggest carrying an OS map, or using an online equivalent, the first time you walk this route as there are a couple of spots where route finding can be tricky.

On with the walk…

Towards Starveall Farm

Leave the parking space via the gate shown in the picture below and head downhill towards Starveall Farm. This field usually has lots of sheep in it so watch where you put your feet. Almost immediately you are treated to the view in the cover photograph above.

Leaving the car park
Leaving the car park

At the bottom of the field, climb the stile, turn right for a few steps and then left at the signpost. Follow the footpath, which is along a narrow road, as it climbs uphill. You might want to take a breather along the way!

Footpath sign near Starveall Farm
Footpath sign near Starveall Farm

Unhill Wood

Fortunately this uphill stretch is rewarded with great views off to your left, across to Moulsford Downs. Follow the footpath as it first skirts alongside Unhill Wood, and then enters into the woodland. There’s a short woodland stretch before you re-emerge with open ground on your left hand side. Continue straight on along the track. Do not follow the track when it bends, instead cross the grassy area to re-enter the edge of the woodland.

Looking over to Moulsford Downs
Looking over to Moulsford Downs

The footpath through Unhill Wood is well defined. You will probably notice a fair number of Private signs along with evidence of pheasant feeding stations at various points throughout the walk today. I would suggest pheasants have priority over walkers in this area.

Unhill Wood
Unhill Wood

The path takes you down towards an open area, called Cow Common. On the opposite side is Ham Wood.   Look for a slightly hidden footpath which bears off to your right and follow it to meet the main track. If you do miss this footpath you’ll still end up on the main track; you’ve just taken an unofficial short cut! Either way, turn right along the main track and follow it along the edge of the woodland. I always think this section is well manicured, presumably it’s for the benefit of the pheasants, and those who come to shoot them.

Towards the end of this section the path re-enters the woods;  watch out for the footpath signs in the photo above. This leads you up beside a house, from where you take a sharp right, back through the woods. If you miss this turn you’ll end up joining the Ridgeway. (There are actually a good number of routes from here if you do want to extend the walk, check them out on an OS map).

Unhill Wood
Unhill Wood

The path leaves Unhill Wood, and takes you on a broad well defined track; photo below. I love how this part always feels remote and miles away from Didcot. Follow the path downhill and veer off the main track, through a field, when it bends to the right.

Between Unhill Wood and Unhill Bottom
Between Unhill Wood and Unhill Bottom

Unhill Bottom

The path now takes you through the dry valley of Unhill Bottom. We last walked this route at the end of October and discovered that the field had recently been ploughed and the footpath obliterated. We ended up walking around the edge of the field, up on the bank beside the trees. This is not the correct footpath but it was just too difficult to walk through the ploughed mud. Hopefully the farmer has now reinstated the footpath along the bottom of the valley.

Unhill Bottom
Unhill Bottom

It’s quite a long walk through Unhill Bottom but you will eventually reach the footpath sign that you passed at the very start. Retrace your footsteps back up the hill, through the sheep field, to return to the car park.

Unhill Bottom
Unhill Bottom

I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk. Do let me know if you do it!

Walk information

Unhill circular walk
Unhill circular walk

Click on the map to view a larger version.

Start and end point: near Starveall Farm, Moulsford. Small parking space off A417, directly opposite turnings for Cholsey and Moulsford. Take great care at this junction, especially when leaving. OS grid reference: SU573838, What3words: ///corner.speedy.childcare.

Distance: Approximately 7.25 km, 4.5 miles

Terrain: Farm tracks, woodland and footpaths across fields.

Refreshments: none on route. Nearest options are pubs and cafes in Goring and Streatley.

5 Replies to “Walks near Didcot: Unhill Wood circular, near Moulsford”

  1. The first half of the walk was quite intense, but the views during the second half were lovely. Thanks!

    I completely agree that you need to take *great* care when leaving the car park. Unfortunately there is no mirror opposite, so you have zero visibility of traffic coming from the right when you are turning left onto the main road (which is a 50mph road!)
    I won’t be returning anytime soon for this reason only. It was so scary!
    Also, the car park is really tiny, only 6 or 7 cars can fit there, so do have a plan-b ready, to avoid frustration!

  2. Had spotted this valley last week due to seeing some Hedley Thorne aerial photos. Then found this write up today and walked it this afternoon. Lovely circuit. Lovely views and terrain. Kids quite liked it. Not too muddy really except for the field in Unhill Bottom.

  3. Great route thanks! Enjoyed this despite not the best weather today. However, the recent freezing temperatures meant no mud at Unhill bottom as it was all still frozen. We opted for an anti-clockwise loop (opposite to description) as that is the way I mapped it out – will do it again another day in reverse to compare, hopefully on a nicer day.

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