For this walk we used: Pathfinder Guides More Cotswolds (Published 2015) Walk 12: Milton under Wychwood and Fifield. Distance: 6 miles.
The starting point of the walk, the Quart Pot pub in Milton, has been renamed the Hares. We parked up outside the recreational ground, and after eating a bag of crisps in the car, we headed off. The first stile we came to on Lyneham Road had a loose post, and as I unwittingly grabbed it, the post swung and bashed the side of my face. Not a great start!
Soon we were walking along the Oxfordshire Way on the western side of the Evenlode valley with lovely views across patchwork fields. Crops of yellow Rapeseed look amazing on a sunny day, I can see why Japanese tourists are so keen to photograph them. It had rained heavily the day before so the bridleway almost immediately became more like a marsh. I could see that people had climbed over the fence into the adjacent field, but it was barbed so we carried on through the mud, sticking to the edges and hopping from place to place. This walk is definitely not suitable if it has rained recently, as it was very hard going. We took 6 hours to complete it.
The bridleway led to some Bluebell woods surrounding the site of the medieval Bruern Abbey, where there now stands an attractive 18th-century mansion. We stopped here to have some lunch, overlooking a beautiful meadow with an avenue of trees. The sheep were grazing sleepily in the hot sunshine. It was a peaceful place.
We pressed on, squelching along the boggy Oxfordshire Way, until we turned off towards Foxholes Nature Reserve. The bright woodlands were filled with Bluebells. We rested again on a wooden seat, realising that after all that effort we had covered less than 3 miles.
It was quite hot and we were surprisingly tired, and we turned down the wrong path. Note to self: do not go down any old path and hope for the best just because you can’t see another one! We had gone a further 1/2 mile before we realised it definitely wasn’t the right way, and thought it was best to retrace our steps rather than get lost in a maze of pathways and tracks. We had gone down a Nature Reserve pathway, when we were meant to be on a bridleway called the Darcy Dalton Way. The route wasn’t waymarked from Foxholes, and we were confused by the written instructions in the guide book. We had an OS Explorer map but it was neatly folded up in my bag the whole time 🙂 I took a compass bearing, and eventually we found the hidden bridleway. It was a little overgrown with grass and reeds, but a crumbling old wooden marker post, and horse shoe marks in the ground gave us a clue that we were now on the right track.
The mysterious bridleway seemed to go on forever, it was also pretty marshy, and at times became tedious. We were glad when we finally arrived at Fifield. There was a wooden bench on the village green, so we sat down to eat our remaining supplies.
Actually, I enjoyed the last bit of the walk the most of all. It was downhill across well drained meadows, and such a pleasure to walk on hard ground! After crossing a ploughed field, passing though a flock of sheep with adorable Spring lambs, and a field of Rapeseed, we were back at Milton. It was a bit of a relief to get back to the car. Too tired at the prospect of cooking dinner, we headed straight for Burger King in Cirencester.
Although this walk has some good points, it just doesn’t compare to the many other wonderful Cotswold walks that are out there.
Our Rating: 2/5