Distance – 5 miles taking approx. 2.5 hours. Mostly field paths in picturesque downland country to the south of Uffington The starting point for this impressive walk in the Vale of White Horse, Uffington is the quintessential English village, so it should come as no surprise to find aspects of it are represented at Pendon. Suggested map – OS Explorer 170 Abingdon, Wantage & Vale of White Horse
1. From the car park by the village stores and post office turn left and pass a footpath and The Green on the right. Continue along the road, turning left into High Street. Pass Upper Common Lane and on the right is the Bakers Arms, now a private house. Keep ahead, passing Greywethers on the left, to the Fox & Hounds public house. Just beyond it is the Old Meeting House. Continue for a few paces to a footpath on the left, opposite Garrards Farm.
2. Go diagonally right to a stile in the fence and maintain the same direction in the neighbouring paddock. Cross a double stile and keep ahead in the pasture, with its boundary on the left. Cross two more stiles and continue towards the field corner with a striking view of downland on the skyline. Cross another double stile and head diagonally left across the pasture to a further stile. Enter woodland and follow the path ahead between trees and bushes. Continue on a grassy path to an intersection with a wooden footbridge seen on the left.
3. Keep ahead at this point, towards Britchcombe Farm. Return to this point after visiting Britchcombe Farm and then turn to the left.
4. Walk along the path to the road and turn right. After about 30 yards turn left through a galvanized gate (signposted to Woolstone). When the grassy ride sweeps left continue ahead on the narrower path running through a spinney. Beyond the trees, keep ahead along the left edge of farmland. On reaching a gate by brick gate pillars, turn right and follow the road. When it bends right by Corner Cottage, cross a stile in front of you and once over it take the right of way on the far right. Pass a galvanized gate and fencing and keep going to a footbridge. The right of way runs diagonally left across the field to the road but it may be easier to follow the left edge to reach the public highway. Turn right at the road and along this stretch there are good views of distant downland and glimpses of the chalk outline of the White Horse at Uffington.
5. Shortly, turn left at a footpath sign, cross a footbridge and turn right along the field edge. On reaching the outbuildings of Grounds Farm, turn left for several paces, then keep right along the field boundary towards a bungalow. Look for a stile, cross it and turn left. At the road junction continue ahead to reach Tom Brown’s School Museum on the left at the next junction. Turn left here and follow the road through Uffington, back to the car park where the walk began.
Links with Pendon Greywethers was a police house at the time we model. It is modelled from measurements taken in 1970-2 and photos from around 1930. Old Meeting House was surveyed by Roye England in 1959. The building was constructed in 1730 for the Quakers, and sold into private ownership in 1821. Tom Brown’s School Museum is a highlight of this walk. The museum features references to Thomas Hughes, who lived in Uffington and wrote Tom Brown’s Schooldays (1857), his semi-autobiographical public school classic. Britchcombe Farm. Britchcombe Farm is immortalized at Pendon. One of the best known farms in the area, Britchcombe shelters beneath White Horse Hill, a place of romantic legends and superb views. Many visitors to the museum have admired the attention to detail and the charming way it has been recreated over the years.
Other points of interest Dominating Uffington is a splendid 13th-century church, known as the ‘Cathedral of the Vale.’ A fine example of the Early English style, the church is known throughout the area for its octagonal tower, the spire of which was lost in a storm during the 18th century.
Garrards Farm, close to the start of the walk, was once the home of the former Poet Laureate Sir John Betjeman. The poet moved to Garrards Farm in the early 1930s, became churchwarden here and played an active role in the local community. Paying an annual rent of £36, Betjeman and his wife Penelope lived at Garrards Farm for eleven years.
Logistics Start/finish – Grid reference SU306894 Parking – spacious village car park by stores and post office at eastern end of Uffington Refreshments – The Fox & Hounds at Uffington caters for pretty much all tastes and requirements. Popular with walkers and cyclists, the pub also provides bed and breakfast accommodation. Food is available every day apart from Sunday evening out of season and breakfast is served to non-residents by request between 9am and 11am. There is a good range of meals, light bites, sandwiches and baguettes. There are also tailored menus for special occasions and groups of ten or more should book in advance. In summer Britchcombe Farm offers the most delicious cream teas.
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