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A circular walk in Witney & Ducklington

Distance: 8km

Time: 2-3 hours

Difficulty: Easy

Today, I decided to try a different kind of walk from my traditional mountain walking. A circular walk in Oxfordshire, starting and finishing in the market town of Witney.

I parked in the main town centre, of what appeared to be a busy Sunday morning for shoppers, and headed to the “Buttercross”. The Buttercross is a central stone pillar raised up on a bed of steps. It is older than the surrounding twelve pillars that support the roof and it’s believed to be the remains of the original market cross or shrine. It is said that people from neighbouring towns would gather there to buy butter and eggs. It was built around 1600 and its clock was added in 1683.

A short walk down Langdale Gate and across Witan Way and I am free of the hustle and bustle of the town, walking alongside the river Windrush. I love walking next to rivers, they always bring a good mixture to spice up a walk. From the fishermen nestled into the banks with their rods cast and keep nets full of fish, to the ducks cleaning themselves and dunking their heads into the water, looking for food. It’s always rewarding to stop for a break and take in the life of the river.

Passing the old mill, which was possibly used for the manufacture of woollen blankets, before being developed into flats in 2016. The path follows the river and takes in the lovely meadow’s from here, to the village of Ducklington. A church greets you into the village and just around the corner is the village pond. There are lots of ducks waddling around, probably hoping that we had a bag full of bread to feed them. Sadly, on this occasion, we did not.

From here, I spied the village pub “The Bell Inn”. So a quick stop for a pint of cider to quench our thirst, was a must. It is a good, old-fashioned, traditional village pub. The meeting place for all the locals to gather on a Sunday lunchtime, for a drink and a laugh. You are welcomed by an old stone floor and a fire, burning fiercely at one end. We settled into the corner to enjoy our drink and take in the warmth of the fire.

After warming up and listening in to the chit-chat, we headed out for the final leg back to Witney. Following the main road, the walk takes in some more of the village. Passing what was once another pub and an old chapel, before both were converted into homes. Turning off the road, heading out across the water meadows and onwards to the lake. Here, there are lots of different birds to observe.

After leaving the lake the walk takes an industrial feel. It heads through one of the town’s many industrial estates, before crossing Witan Way. Here you follow the path, guarded by lime trees, across the local park. Passing the church and back to the town centre and our VW camper.

It was good to see the wildlife that this walk had to offer. The lovely swan’s and duck’s certainly brought a smile to my face and made me realise just how little wildlife I see on my higher altitude walks. For those looking for a short, easy walk, taking in a mixture of town/village life and riverside walking, then this is ideal. For me, it was a pleasant change from the lung bursting, leg burning challenge of climbing a mountain. It just goes to show that you don’t need to drive for hours to find a great walk and have a very pleasant day.

Enjoy the walking and stay safe.

Alister

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