It’s no secret that we love getting out and about, exploring new places and having adventures. One of the strangest things about the coronavirus lockdown was staying at home. For a few months, I was just using my car once a week to go to the supermarket. My OH was classified as a key worker and he droves an hour and a half to work and back each day until he lost his job in June. He got to see a bit of the world beyond the boundaries of our estate. My son and I felt rather trapped at times. Our estate isn’t an unpleasant place, but there are only so many houses you can walk past before the views just merge into one. So I decided to dust off the local OS map I bought years ago and actually start exploring footpaths on our doorstep. It’s been a revelation over the last four months to really see the area we live in. Downloading the OS map app has been the best thing I’ve done in ages.
Since we started walking out from our front door there has been a relaxation in the rules and you can now drive pretty much anywhere for a walk. But it’s only been in the last few weeks that we’ve ventured far from home and I’ve been meaning to write this post since May!! It’s been in my draft box for that long. So here we go as I start to relive some of the mini-adventures we’ve had over the last four months.
Exploring footpaths on our doorstep has seen us visiting villages close to home as well as walking up to landmarks we’ve driven past for years. Obviously you’ve got the lack of toilets issue to deal with but none of the walks we’ve completed has taken longer than a couple of hours, so we’ve not been caught short yet!
One of our first walks from our doorstep was to Trow Pool. For years I’ve driven up and down the M40 and seen the water tower close to where we live. I had no idea you could walk close to it until the start of the year, when a friend posted photos, before lockdown. I looked at my app and realised it was easy to walk to the water tower and on to Trow Pool so we picked a quiet Sunday afternoon and headed off on a new adventure.
It felt so strange to actually walk off our estate. Something my son and I hadn’t done in weeks. To see a field with livestock, something to ordinary in normal times, felt just so wonderful. It felt like we were a million miles away from home within minutes of closing our front door.
The walk from the northern part of Bicester takes you onto a footpath from the end of Howes Lane, overlooking the fields. The sun was shining and the hedgerows were full of flowers and the birds were singing everywhere. This Spring really was the season of birdsong, wasn’t it? The lack of traffic made their melodies sing out so loudly.
From the track, you start to walk across farm fields, there’s a very clearly defined pathway in place so you really can’t get lost. You can also see right across the fields to see if anyone is coming, to just hang back and give them space to pass by before starting out. It will come as no surprise that my son found a stick as we spent time exploring footpaths on our doorstep. Once again he was determined to be our tour guide and took the lead as we headed closer to Trow Pool.
I’ve walked this same walk a few times over the last couple of months and it’s been fascinating to see the crops growing and the landscape changing with the seasons.
This was in April.
And this was the same field, taken in June.
On this walk, you do need to cross one B quiet road to access the path down past the water tower that leads to Trow Pool. It also means that you get to walk across a bridge over the M40, This photo was taken on 25th April, and was the first time I’d seen the motorway since lockdown started. My son and I were amazed to see such little traffic. The OH had been driving to work right from the start of lockdown so he had seen the motorway with absolutely no traffic at all. It did feel so surreal.
Once again, you can see the difference a couple of months takes as this shot was taken in June. Still not normal traffic levels but definitely building up.
One of the highlights of Sping for me is seeing bluebells in the woods, I had a post ready to share with you all featuring bluebell spots across the country and then COVID hit and it was obvious that no one was going to be going for a bluebell walk this year. We were so pleased when we spotted some close to Trow Pool on our walk in April, we’d just found them before they went over. A sight we’ve always taken for granted, now rather precious. Spotting wildflowers, in general, has been a real memory for us this year. When life has felt so uncertain, when we’ve not been able to see family and friends, nature has just kept doing it’s thing. It’s given us some much-needed reassurance at times that things will get better. For my ten-year-old son it showed him that somethings were still normal. That the flowers, insects and birds hadn’t gone away. That first walk was such a tonic for him.
Being grateful for the natural world around us, savouring it and just opening our eyes to what is on our doorstep. It’s been a good lesson for all of us to learn and we’ve got the OH walking further than he’s ever walked. His son puts him to shame.
The Trow Pool water tower was built in 1909 for the owner of Bucknell Manor and was in full service for the manor and the village of Bucknell until mains water reached the area in the 1950s.
It’s quite an impressive structure to walk around.
From the water tower there a clear pathway that leads down to Trow Pool itself. We actually bumped (from a distance) into a friend of mine with her family and dog. It was rather overwhelming to actually see people we knew. A strange feeling for all of us.
Trow Pool itself offered shade and tranquillity and we all felt rather guilty that we’d never explored here before.
We had the pool to ourselves when we first visited, although it’s become a busier area over the last few months.
My son was in his element and it was just so lovely to feel as if we’d actually been on an adventure.
We could see Ardley Incinerator from the distance with its funky design.
We walked along the paths around the bluebells.
Before heading home again.
The walk was just over 10kms as a round trip from our front door and it’s one that we will continue to walk from now on. To have this gem on our doorstep was a revelation and it gave us the kick we needed to look at other options in the weeks ahead. I’ll be sharing more of our adventures in the weeks ahead.