Oxfordshire Way

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Route map

The Oxfordshire Way is a 68-mile long-distance footpath in Oxfordshire, with short sections in Gloucestershire and Buckinghamshire.

Understand[edit]

The Oxfordshire Way near Christmas Common

The Oxfordshire Way is a signposted walking route, using existing rights of way, largely (as the name suggests) in the county of Oxfordshire. It runs in an arc to the north of Oxford, from Bourton-on-the-Water in the west to Henley-on-Thames in the southeast, connecting the Cotswolds and the Chilterns. It connects with the Heart of England Way at Bourton and the Thames Path at Henley. It is 68 miles long and is usually walked in 4 to 6 days from west to east (the direction in which it is described in the official Walker's Guide).

Although relatively flat and unspectacular, the Way passes through some pretty villages and varied and attractive countryside. Landscapes include honey-coloured Cotswold villages, the fine parkland of Blenheim Palace, the Oxford Canal, quiet hamlets on the Oxford Plain and the chalk-and-flint woodlands of the Chilterns.

Prepare[edit]

Accommodation is mainly in small villages and towns, where the choice may be limited—particularly between Islip and Watlington—so you are advised to book ahead. Oxfordshire is relatively flat, so fitness is not a major issue, but you should possess the necessary equipment (walking boots or shoes, waterproof clothing, maps, rucksack, etc.). Although the route is signposted, either the official Walker's Guide, or the relevant OS maps (see below), are essential to avoid getting lost.

Get in[edit]

Bourton-on-the-Water can be reached by bus from Moreton-in-Marsh (25 min) and Cheltenham (50 min) via Pulhams 801 service (Timetable). Henley-on-Thames has links to Reading and London Paddington by train, and to Reading, High Wycombe and Maidenhead by bus.

There is no direct public transport route from the city of Oxford to either end of the Oxfordshire Way; you'll have to change at least once. The best options from Oxford: for Bourton catch a train to Moreton-in-Marsh (c.35 min) and continue by bus to Bourton (25 min); for Henley take the train, changing at Twyford (c.90 min total journey time). Bourton is 30 miles from Oxford by road; from Henley to Oxford is 23 miles. There are rail stations en route at Ascott-under-Wychwood, Charlbury, Tackley (near Kirtlington) and Islip, all with quick and direct connections to Oxford: with careful planning, using these stations and local bus services, it would be possible to stay in Oxford each night and travel to and from your start and end points each day by public transport.

Walk[edit]

Approaching the village of Stonesfield

The route passes through the following places (split into six suggested day-long sections):

  • Bourton-on-the-Water–Wyck Rissington–Bledington–Bruern Abbey–Shipton-under-Wychwood (10 miles)
  • Shipton-under-Wychwood–Ascott-under-Wychwood–Charlbury–Stonesfield–Woodstock (13 miles)
  • Woodstock–Kirtlington–Weston-on-the-Green–Islip (11 miles)
  • Islip–Noke–Beckley–Waterperry–Waterstock–Tiddington (12 miles)
  • Tiddington–Rycote Chapel–Tetsworth–Adwell–Pyrton–Watlington (12 miles)
  • Watlington–Christmas Common–Pishill–Maidensgrove–Bix Bottom–Middle Assendon–Henley (11 miles)

Sleep[edit]

Most of the places named above have accommodation, though in all but the largest places you are advised to book in advance.

  •    Shaven CrownShipton-under-Wychwood (just off OW in centre of village; turn right on reaching A361),  +44 1993 830330, e-mail: . Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Comfortable accommodation in fabulous historic building (14th-century gateway and Great Hall). Evening meals available. £50–£115 (double).
  •    Days Inn OxfordWelcome Break Service Area (Leave OW on footpath south immediately after crossing the River Thame at Waterstock; after ½ mile cross M40 by A418 bridge with care),  +44 1865 877000. Check-in: 2PM, check-out: 11AM. Functional chain motel in unromantic setting at motorway service station, but cheap and only half a mile from the route in an area where accommodation is thin on the ground. £60 (double).

Other accommodation possibilities are listed here:

Connect[edit]

Read[edit]

The route is marked on Ordnance Survey 1:25000 maps (recommended), but the Walker's Guide is near indispensable.

  • Oxfordshire Way: A Walker's Guide. 90-page paperback with advice on public transport and accommodation, places of historical interest, geology and the natural history of the area. Published by Oxfordshire County Council. £5.99 (+ 95p p&p).
  • Oxfordshire Way: Suggested Accommodation and Refreshment Guide. Available free as a PDF from the Oxfordshire County Council website. Free.

The Walker's Guide contains adequate strip maps, but the following Ordnance Survey maps are easier to read, and will be useful if staying off route, for excursions, and in case the route changes:

  • OS Explorer 45 - The Cotswolds. 1:25000 map covering Bourton–Ascott-under-Wychwood section. £7.99.
  • OS Explorer 180 - Oxford, Witney & Woodstock. Ascott-under-Wychwood–Tetsworth section. £7.99.
  • OS Explorer 191 - Banbury, Bicester & Chipping Norton. Brief section between Ascott-under-Wychwood and Charlbury; not essential. £7.99.
  • OS Explorer 171 - Chiltern Hills West, Henley-on-Thames & Wallingford. Tetsworth–Henley. £7.99.
This is a usable itinerary. It explains how to get there and touches on all the major points along the way. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!
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