Paul Mobbs’ photographic record of his walks around ‘Banburyshire’ and ‘The Irondowns’, and occasionally, as part of his work around Britain, the areas beyond.
Usually I keep walk blogs on-line for five seasons, and then delete them because of the large amount of server space that they take up. This page lists posts which form the ‘permanent collection’; which I keep permanently on-line because of their unique value to the broader view of the outdoors the blog seeks to communicate.
In one sense this is a collection of memories. Of walks which produced some of my favourite photos. As I look through the images in my collection though, I realised it described something more. A skeleton; a super-structure of places on which the essence of the local landscape sits. Its collection of ancient sites.
I skirt the town centre to Banbury Quaker Meeting House, and after checking for walkers it's time to head-off cross-country to Adderbury – via the ‘alternative route’. Flooding prevents use of the shorter, prettier route (precisely because it crosses the flat, wildflower-rich flood meadows). There's a brisk wind and the animated cloudscape promises heavy rain. I'm going to get wet!
Route: Banbury Meeting House, Bodicote, East Adderbury, Adderbury Meeting House; East Adderbury, Twyford, Oxford Canal, Banbury.
Confined in bed for ten weeks after last November, I hatched a simple plan to get back into multi-day backpacking again: Wild camp for four days across the Wessex Downs; stopping only twice for water in Avebury and Marlborough; and all along the route, photographing as many of the lesser-known prehistoric sites as possible. 35 years after I first backpacked around the area, I’m looking forward to the walk with anticipation.
Route: Devizes, Cherhill Hill, Windmill Hill, Avebury, The Ridgeway, Fyfield Down, Marlborough.
Due to eye problems, from the end of November to the beginning of February I spent most of the time laid flat on my face in bed. During that time I still went on a lot of walks… in my head. Quite often those walks would come back to the same spot – one of my favourite local megaliths, 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.
As I leave Hook Norton it begins to rain again; hard. A steady fifteen or twenty mile-an-hour wind, gusting in wet squalls to thirty or more, is blowing. It’s been raining hard off-and-on for the last day or so. It’s nice to go out in weather like this, "because it’s there"; if only to check your wet gear still works for the time when you really need it. Rather than struggle in the mud of the wet valleys the best option is to find a long ridge, with a free-draining geology, to traverse. Today’s ridge walk, though, is rather special.
Route: Hook Norton, Rollright Heath, Great Rollright, Rollright Stones, Little Rollright, Salford, Chipping Norton.
This walk started with a comment from a friend a couple of years ago. When I pointed out that there were far more megaliths in West Oxfordshire than just the Rollright Stones, he wondered if it were possible to walk to them. That thought has been in my mind ever since; today, as a fitting tribute to Beltane – traditionally marking the beginning of the ancient Summer – I thought I'd give it a go.