Watlington and Aston Rowant Nature Reserve Walk

Introducing Thame Outer Circuit
March 1, 2021
Blue Cross
April 28, 2021

Watlington and Aston Rowant Nature Reserve Walk

Summary                   

This is the next in a series of social-distancing walks across the Chilterns. It takes in some wonderful Chilterns scenery including rolling chalk downland, beech woodlands and ancient pathways.

 

Length:                         6.2 miles (Allow 3 hours)

Start & finish:               Watlington Recreation Ground car park, Shirburn Road, Watlington OX49 5BZ. Grid ref: SU 691 948

Access Information:     Moderate walking on unsurfaced paths and lanes with two long steep climbs. There is one stile

Food & drink:               Pubs and café in Watlington (subject to Covid restrictions). None on the walk.

 

Route

1.Leave the car park and turn left to follow the footpath along the B4009 Watlington Road (you can also cut across the recreation ground to meet the road at the far corner). After 300m you will see Station Road on your right.

 

  1. Cross over the Watlington Road with care to join Station Road (also the route of the Oxfordshire Way). Follow this quiet track enjoying the lovely views of the hills ahead. Continue past the Ridgeway National Trail and 450m later you will see a footpath on your left.

 

  1. Follow this path which skirts fields and woods until you come out on to the open chalk grassland at the foot of Shirburn Hill. Follow the path which climbs steeply uphill offering panoramic views from the top. The path finally emerges on the Christmas Common Road.

 

  1. Turn left and then after 50m take the footpath on the left into Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve. Follow this path through the nature reserve and all the way down to the Ridgeway National Trail (also Swan’s Way and the Icknield Way along this stretch).

 

  1. Turn left on to the Ridgeway and follow it back to Station Road. Turn right along Station Road to retrace your steps back to the car park.

 

Points of Interest

 

A Shirburn Hill is a beautiful area of chalk grassland, chalk heath, scrub and broadleaved woodland. The grassland is dotted with large bumps which are ant hills, many of them are over 100 years old and contain around 5,000 ants in each mound.

 

B Aston Rowant National Nature Reserve contains flower-rich chalk grassland, woodland and juniper scrub. There are huge numbers of butterfly, flower and bird species and fantastic views over the Oxford plain.

 

C The Ridgeway National Trail has been described as Britain’s oldest road and is part of a historic corridor thought to have connected the Dorset coast to the Wash.

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