The sun was shining on Sunday and we were in need of some fresh air. I’ve been wanting to try another local walk for a while, that mixes trains and canals and it seemed the perfect day for it. So off we set to spend a few hours exploring the Lower Heyford Circular Walk which covers 4 and a half miles of the Oxfordshire countryside.
This is the third walk we’ve tried from the Short Walks around Bicester book and so I was confident that the directions would be clear and easy to follow without the need of me taking an OS map with us. The route gave us a recommended spot to park up in Market Square, we took the last space when we arrived at 11.30 am but we were the only ones there when we returned a couple of hours later.
My son has become quite fascinated with village churches since we’ve started these walks, and as exploring the Lower Heyford Circular Walk started right by Lower Heyford church, he was keen to have a look around.
Looking at the inscriptions on old gravestones is something we’ve always done together. Marvelling over their ages and the details. We spotted some that had been used to border the side of the pathway too.
We headed along a walled pathway which led out into a paddock next to the marina in the village.
The local train station runs next to the Oxford Canal and of course, my train-obsessed son insisted we stop in case any trains sped past. I decided we might as well make use of the benches and have an early lunch while we waited for the next trains to speed through the station.
Once we’d had our lunch and seen the trains we headed off down the towpath to start exploring the Lower Heyford Circular Walk. We got to see so many ducklings on our walk, some were still really tiny.
Walking along with the Oxford Canal on one side of us and the River Cherwell on the other, we saw lots of butterflies including the Orange Tip, Brimstone, Peacock and what I think might have been a Small Blue. I’d got the wrong lens to capture any of them. But it was lovely to just enjoy them flying past on a sunny afternoon.
The Oxford Canal wasn’t busy at all but it was nice to say hello to the various boats that passed us by.
My son is fascinated by anything related to engineering, so the lift bridge brought up lots of conversation about its purpose and whether it was actually easy to lift or not.
Exploring the Lower Heyford Circular Walk took us away from the Oxford Canal and past the River Cherwell. We got to see some lovely Weeping Willows close to the Mill House.
Our walk would see us crossing over or under the railway line at different points, which of course meant having a good look to see if any trains were passing by.
We got to walk through woodland and then through fields offering wonderful views across the Oxfordshire countryside. It really was such a lovely walk and once we were away from the canal we didn’t see anyone else. It was just perfect.
The butterflies might have been too quick for me and my camera, but we did spot a rather lovely beetle hiding in the shade.
When I’d been reading up about the route of our walk, I’d heard mention of the Rousham Eyecatcher and was eager to see it for real. I’ve visited Rousham House before but not been aware of this ironstone folly set in a field some way away from the house itself. It dates back to 1738, and although we weren’t able to get right up to it, it was fascinating to see it from different angles as we walked through various fields.
We continued on through the fields, following the tracks as we headed towards the village of Steeple Aston. I love watching my son striding out ahead, leading the way. He might moan about the idea of doing certain things, but once he’s outdoors he just comes alive. It makes me happy to see him so carefree.
The walk took us up a hill in the village of Steeple Aston, giving us a chance to enjoy the quaint cottages as we passed. We even spotted a rather lovely weathervane.
At this time of year, there are dandelion clocks everywhere just waiting to be blown, and it’s lovely to see my son still enjoying telling the time with them.
We headed away from the village, past the eyecatcher again and on towards the village of Upper Heyford. My son had seen the map and knew we were heading back towards the train line. This way Mummy!
We always find something unexpected on our walks, and although we knew we’d get to see a folly, we had no idea we’d get to see a lot of horses too. Some at closer quarters than others!
Horses and a train bridge, what more could a boy want?
More horses perhaps? and foals and a train. Heaven.
Once we’d passed all the horses we rejoined the Oxford Canal and passed Allen Lock as we headed past Upper Heyford and back along the towpath to Lower Heyford.
Before we knew it we’d completed our time exploring the Lower Heyford Circular Walk, were back passing the marina and walking back to the car through the meadow.
It had been a lovely walk away from all the stresses and with the phone call I was to receive later that afternoon, it was nice to have some wonderful memories of a happy afternoon.