Pete's Walks - Watlington Hill, Cookley Green and Pishill (part 1)

I did this walk on Monday 11th May 2009 - it was a repeat of a walk I did in December 2007 (see here). A slightly lengthened version of the walk (including Swyncombe Downs) became Walk 17 of my Chiltern Chain Walk.

The walk was an almost 13-mile circular route in the Oxfordshire part of the Chilterns. Starting at Watlington Hill, I went down to part of the Ridgeway National Trail, then back uphill to Cookley Green and on along the escarpment past Swyncombe, with fine views out over the Oxfordshire Plain. I then went through Park Corner and then to the Warburg nature reserve (where I had a quick 20-minute look around). From there I went through Maidensgrove to Pishill, and finally through College Wood and along the ancient Hollandridge Lane to the charmingly named Christmas Common, from where it was a short road walk back to Watlington Hill.

I started out from the car park at Watlington Hill about 10.20am - it was a sunny Spring day, though there was a strong easterly wind that would last all day. As always, the path down Watlington Hill was a delight, running beside a stand of Yew trees and with a view ahead of the Oxfordshire plain. I saw my first Sanicle and Common Rock-rose of the year here, too.

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The path descending Watlington Hill

At the bottom of he hill, I followed a road to the right for a short distance and then turned left. I used the permissive path here, rather than follow the tarmac drive that is the official route of the Ridgeway National Trail.

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The permissive path, parallel to the Ridgeway National Trail

Where the permissive path ended, I turned left along a drive (I was leaving the Ridgeway here, though I would meet it again briefly later). Beyond a farm, the bridleway became a track, initially between hedges then rising steadily uphill through trees.

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Looking back to Watlington Hill, from the bridleway to Cookley Green

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The bridleway to Cookley Green

At the top of the hill, the bridleway joined the drive to another farm to reach a lane. I continued on the other side, along a drive that passed Coates Farm on the way to Cookley Green.

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The drive to Coates Farm, on the way to Cookley Green

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Looking out over the Oxfordshire Plain, from the drive to Cookley Green

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The drive from Coates Farm to Cookley Green

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The green at Cookley Green

At Cookley Green I briefly joined the Chiltern Way, going a few hundred yards down a lane and turning left on a path through Church Wood. As this path started to descend towards Swyncombe, I turned left on a path along the top of the Chiltern escarpment.

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Path through Church Wood, between Cookley Green and Swyncombe

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Path from Church Wood to the parkland around Swyncombe House

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Looking over Swyncombe to the Oxfordshire Plain

After a while the path entered the park surrounding Swyncombe House, but still continued along the escarpment with fine views out over the Oxfordshire Plain.

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Start of the path through the parkland around Swyncombe House

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The path through the parkland around Swyncombe House

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The Oxfordshire Plain from the path through the parkland around Swyncombe House

On leaving the park, I rejoined the Ridgeway for a few hundred yards as it made its way to the farm at Ewelme Park.

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The Ridgeway National Trail, just before Ewelme Park