Winter 2019 (January – March)
Wednesday 20th March 2019
Due to eye problems, from the end of November to the beginning of February I spent most of the time laid flat on my. During that time I went on a lot of walks… in my head. Those walks would often come back to the same spot – my favourite local megalith, The Hawk Stone. Given today’s auspicious astronomical events it seems a good day to visit it in person, and take care of another ‘anomaly’ along the way.
Chipping Norton, Churchill Standing Stone, Besbury Bowl Barrow, Churchill standing stones, Sarsden Wayfaring Cross, The Roundabout, Lyneham Long Barrow, Chadlington, Dean, The Hawk Stone, Chadlington Downs – 21.7km/13½ miles, 350m/1,150ft, 6¼ hours
Thursday 14th March 2019
As I leave Hook Norton it begins to rain again; hard. A steady 15-20 mile-an-hour wind, gusting to 30 or more, is blowing. It’s nice to go out in weather like this, "because it’s there"; if only to check your wet gear still works. Rather than struggle in the mud of the wet valleys the best option is to find a long ridge to traverse. Today’s ridge walk, though, is rather special.
Hook Norton, Rollright Heath, Great Rollright, Rollright Stones, Little Rollright, Salford, Chipping Norton – 15.2km/9½ miles, 300m/980ft, 4¼ hours
Tuesday 19th February 2019
There are some walks that you do over-and-over again. Lately I’ve had a problem with ‘white vans’ – delivery vans driving at speed around rural rat runs, and who don’t really expect to meet walkers wandering down single track roads in the middle of nowhere. A solution to this problem has come to mind for my favourite route through Blenheim; time to try it out.
Tackley station, Old Whitehill, Sturdy's Castle, Wootton, Woodstock, Bleinham Park, Combe Mill, Long Hanborough, Hanborough station – 14.9km/9¼ miles, 200m/660ft, 3⅔ hours
Friday 15th February 2019
When you walk an area for a long period of time, so that you can follow all the paths without a map, you develop a sense of ‘freedom’. I lost that last November when I couldn’t see. Since my sight returned I’ve been taking carefully planned "routes". Today though I went for a "walk"; unintended, definitely not planned, and far more wonderful as a result.
Banbury, Grimsbury, Nethercote, Overthorpe, Middleton Cheney, Thenford, Farthinghoe – 10.5km/6½ miles, 170m/560ft, 2½ hours
Saturday 9th February 2019
The grip of Winter, perhaps temporarily, appears to have been broken. Things are waking up. Crocuses and daffodils are beginning to sprout in Peoples Park. In the parks and gardens of the town beyond birds are beginning to stir, leaving the cover where they’ve been hiding for the last few weeks. Spring is near!
Banbury, Bretch Hill, Drayton Arch, Drayton, Moor Mill, Hanwell, Hanwell Castle, Hardwick, Banbury – 14.5km/9 miles, 210m/680ft, 3½ hours
Monday 4th February 2019
Can’t work any more, can’t stay still; time for another walk. Still stiff from the last outing I try and think of something short and flat, but preferably a route I haven’t done in a while. There are some nice walks out of Warwick Parkway station; too long. Why not loop back towards Leamington instead, keeping to the River Avon and the canal, tracing a route through the green spaces between the twin towns of Warwick and Leamington Spa? Or, as the kids used to call it after the brown tourism signs, "Histowick Warwick"
Warwick Parkway, Hampton Magna, Warwick, River Avon, Grand Union Canal, Leamington Spa Station – 8km/5 miles, 50m/165ft, 2 hours
Saturday 2nd February 2019
Off on a whim, to find a sunset… for Imbolg (albeit, a day late). Many people have got in touch recently to ask how I’m getting on. Well, as of mid-January, I can see with both eyes now. More importantly though, as I can now see what’s at my feet, I’m walking again – which is even better! As people driving at dusk will know, the test of your eyes is not so much ‘seeing’ but being able to see when the light is poor. So, I’m off into the dusk to see how I do.
Banbury, Crouch Hill, Giants Caves, Banbury – 7.5km/4⅔ miles, 120m/400ft, 1¾ hours