Monday, 11 May 2009

East Hendred and Ardington

Ardington Church

My birthday. A lovely sunny day, so what better than a walk on the downs? This 6 mile walk begins in the Oxfordshire village of East Hendred. Initially, you walk across fields - of newly-mown hay, so quite hard work - to the nearby village of Ardington.

The nave, chancel and north doorway of the church of Holy Trinity date apparently from around 1200, but Ardington's main claim to fame is Ardington House.

This handsome baroque house dates from 1720 and has long been the home of the Baring banking family. It is now available for weddings and corporate events.

From here the path leads south to join the Icknield Way which you follow for the best part of two miles, as it rises and falls in a straight line over the downs. Very windy up there today, but exhilarating too. Nice views to the north. It really does feel like an ancient route that has been trodden over long ages.

This is the view looking back towards the interestingly named Roundabout Hill.

Eventually you turn left to return to East Hendred. Quite soon we saw this rather autumnal sight, which revealed itself to be a line of maples.

The first sight of East Hendred is quite picturesque: this group is the catholic church, presbytery and school, with the C of E church in the background.

East Hendred is a pretty, spread-out place with many delightful buildings ....

.... which seems to have once been a more important settlement.

From: Berkshire and Oxfordshire Pub Walks for Motorists by Les Maple (Countryside Books).

Map: Explorer 170 (Abingdon, Wantage and Vale of White Horse.

Rating: four stars. Varied, exhilarating, great views.


The main highlight was a Painted Lady. But today was also notable for the definitive identification of a female Orange Tip. As it rather unfairly lacks an orange tip to its wings, it can easily be mistaken for a Small White - the underwings are very different however.

Also a Red Kite flying low over the fields on the edge of East Hendred.

Flower of the day

Remarkably few flowers in fact on view today, apart from prodigious quantities of cow parsley. This Purple Comfrey was the most interesting.

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