A CIRCULAR WALK FROM ASHBURY
This walk is in the heart of the Vale in the south east corner of Oxfordshire. Starting in Ashbury it follows field paths through Kingstone Winslow, Compton Beauchamp and Knighton before climbing to the Ridgeway with views of Uffington Castle and a visit to a Neolithic Long Barrow before dropping down to the starting point in Ashbury. The walk passes several cottages that are modelled at Pendon, plus arguably the most delightful church in the Vale. If just a short stroll is needed then the village and hamlets mentioned and the Ridgeway can be accessed by car.
Photographs of a number of buildings mentioned in the text are to be found in the Gallery, which follows the description of the Walk. Where the buildings are mentioned in italics they are (or will be) modelled in Pendon’s Vale Scene and the current status can be seen in the cross reference table. Note that in some cases the model building will have a different name to its prototype and the text refers to the prototype name.
Suggested map – the walk is covered by OS Explorer 170 Abingdon, Wantage & Vale of White Horse.
Distance – 5 miles, climbing 300 feet and taking 3 hours. There are 6 stiles.
- With your back to the Rose and Crown, look across the road to the terrace of cottages known as Ashbury Row. Cross the road and walk left keeping to the pavement, passing the war memorial and walking down Chapel Row. You will soon come to the Village Hall on the right with Rose Cottage just beyond. Attached to Rose Cottage, but facing the road, is Eastwood Cottage. Looking ahead at this point you can see Ashbury Manor set well back from the road. Keep on Chapel Row as it turns right and follow it to the end at a T junction with a busier road. Cross to the signed public footpath opposite and follow this tarmac path as it descends with a recreation ground to the right and house gardens on the left.
- At the bottom of the slope the path opens out with a millpond on the right and Upper Mill on the left. Pass the Mill and follow the tarmac drive up to a lane. Cross the lane diagonally left and you will see a path on the right leading to a field, while the lane drops into the hamlet of Kingstone Winslow. Take the path and follow the edge of the field with the hedgerow on your right. Here you have clear views across the Vale to the left and glimpses of the rise up the Berkshire Downs on your right. A good place for watching red kites quartering the fields.
- At the field corner follow the path through a gap in the hedgerow and head diagonally right across the next field – walking roughly midway between the electricity cables and the right hand hedgerow. You will soon reach the top of the slope and the stile leading out of the field will be visible ahead. Cross that stile and walk ahead, crossing two more stiles and going through a field gate. On your right as you walk you can see Odstone Farm, a fine example of the local vernacular architecture.
- Keep on ahead, with the hedgerow to your right, passing two cattle troughs on your left. At the corner of the field cross a stile and a footbridge, continuing across two fields still keeping to the hedgerow to the right. At the next field follow the track diagonally right and a view of Compton Beauchamp will open up – walled gardens, manicured hedges, a glimpse of Compton House, a dovecot and the delightful chalk white church of St Swithuns. Head across another stile to the left of the church passing through a gate to the church driveway. Here a gate leads to the church, which is usually open and well worth a visit. There are wall paintings and interesting monuments. Walk to the road, then look back to the right for a view of Compton House.
- Turn right and follow the lane uphill, round a bend and spot a footpath sign on the left. Go through a gap in the hedge, over the last stile of the walk and cross the field to a gate opposite. You are now in Knighton and on an old path between cottages. After a few yards you will see Thatch Cottage on the left. The path enters an open area and you head right to the tarmac drive heading to a lane. As you do so, St Frideswide Cottage is on your right and Fitchett Cottages is on your left. You may have spotted a gravestone at St Swithuns bearing the name Fitchett.
- Reaching the lane, turn right. Downs View Cottage can be seen on the left, though you will have to peer through the trees and bushes to do so. Then there are the fine Thatched Barns of Knighton Farm on the right. You have now reached the lane you left earlier to explore Knighton.
- Turn left along the lane. At a cross roads go straight ahead and the quiet lane will take you up to the Ridgeway National Trail, with views of Uffington Castle opening up on the left. On reaching the Ridgeway (all climbing completed now) turn right and follow the clear path for about 1.25 miles. You will pass Waylands Smithy on your right – a part excavated Neolithic Long Barrow. An example of the vernacular architecture of 5,500 years ago perhaps?
- After crossing the Lambourn to Ashbury road take the first signposted path on the right. There is usually an advertisement for the Rose and Crown here. Follow the path until you approach the churchyard, then go left where the path splits. This will take you past the church coming out onto the road by your starting point at the Rose and Crown. Time for refreshment – you are at the front door of the pub, or to reach the Tea Rooms turn right past the pub, straight ahead at the crossroads and the Tea Room and Shop is on the left.
Map of the Walk
Start / finish - Rose and Crown, Ashbury, Grid Reference SU265851.
Parking - in the village or use the Rose and Crown Car Park if using the pub.
Refreshments (check their websites for opening times):
- Rose and Crown, Ashbury. roseandcrownatashbury.co.uk
- Tea Room and Shop, Ashbury. ashburyshop.co.uk
LINKS WITH PENDON
The buildings mentioned in italics in the walk are all modelled in Pendon's Vale Scene. (For Friends of Pendon, there are some cases fuller descriptions and more photographs of the original buildings and models in Friends Place on the Pendon website. We are adding to this resource all the time.
Cross reference between prototype and model buildings
Prototype building name
Built: not in place
Downs View Cottage
Built and in place
Built and in place
Built and in place
Knighton Farm: thatched barns
Manor Farm: thatched barns
Model at planning stage
|Rose Cottage||Rose Cottage||Built and in place|
Built and in place
|Thatch Cottage||Square End||Built and in place|
|Upper Mill||Upper Mill||Built and in place|