Winter 2018 (January – March)
Wednesday 28th March 2018
At the time it seemed obvious. That finger of cold, progressing down your Achilles tendon towards your heel, as the water of the flooded, muddy floodplain over-tops the back of your boot and runs down inside. With a flash of recollection, given all your recent walks were not improvised in the same manner, you belatedly tell yourself under your breath, "I should have brought my gaiters". Hindsight is a wonderful tool for foolproof walks planning.
Train Oxford Station, Portmeadow, Norham Gardens, University Parks, South/North Mead, Marston Ferry, Norham Gardens, Oxford Station – 8km/5 miles, 30m/100ft ascension, 2 hours
Sunday 18th March 2018
It's the quarterly Adderbury Quaker Meeting today. As usual I'm walking there. If you're going to a 343 year-old Quaker Meeting House, hardly changed in the last three centuries, I find walking there gets you in the right frame of mind to appreciate the surroundings. However, today the snowy landscape highlights the Medieval trackways that the local Quakers who built the Meeting House would have walked – adding to the perceptions of 'stepping-back' into a more simple way of travelling.
Banbury, Wykham Farm, Upper Grove Mill, West Adderbury, Adderbury Quaker Meeting House, Milton, Bloxham Grove, Bodicote, Banbury – 12.8km/8 miles, 150m/500ft ascension, 3 hours
Friday 9th March 2018
What an awful week. I decide to go for a walk. The first bus from the bus station takes me to… Chipping Warden. I set off and soon decide that I'll follow The Portway – an ancient trackway that connected the Thames Valley to the East Midlands. Negotiating this ancient route means confronting the impact of our most modern – High Speed 2
Bus to Chipping Warden, Edgcote Park, Trafford Bridge, Danesmoor, Thorpe Mandeville, Thenford, Farthinghoe, bus return – 12.9km/8 miles, 170m/560ft ascension, 4 hours
Thursday 1st March 2018
I've heard there's a "Beast from the East" stalking the land; it's from Siberia, so Russian involvement is suspected. I decide that I should use my local knowledge to track, hunt and trap 'the beast' to resolve the issue (I hope that my not-used-for-15-years conversational Russian is up to the test!)
Train to Kings Sutton, Charlton, Newbottle, Astrop Hill, Twyford Wharf, Oxford Canal, Banbury – 15.6km/9⅔ miles, 200m/650ft ascension, 4¾ hours
Wednesday 21st February 2018
I hadn't planned to go for a walk today; there were other priorities. I've had four hard days, including a pre-dawn trip to London. As I open my eyes, looking through the window at the fluffy pink clouds in the dawn sky, through the haze of tiredness I realize I'm not going to get any brain-work done today. Probably best to go for a walk instead.
Train to Moreton in Marsh, bus to Stow, Icomb Hill, Wyck Beacon, Church Westcote, Bledington, Kingham – 13.9km/8⅗ miles, 180m/590ft ascension, 3¾ hours
Wednesday 14th February 2018
I need to write a 'logical sonnet' in a hurry. Too many distractions here, so I take the problem out into the sticks – on a cold, windy, sleaty Winter Warwickshire ridgeline.
Train to Warwick Parkway, Hatton Park, Haseley, Hatton Green, Hatton Bank Locks, Warwick Parkway – 10.3km/6⅖ miles, 90m/300ft ascension, 2¾ hours
Wednesday 7th February 2018
Ever since the railway line from Oxford to Bicester re-opened at the end of 2016 I've been longing to revisit one of my favourite places; Otmoor. It's time I enacted that plan.
Train to Islip, Oddington, Otmoor, Backley, Elsfield, Woodeaton, Water Eaton, Oxford Parkway – 18.8km/11⅔ miles, 150m/500ft ascension, 4¾ hours