Sheep Street, Charlbury
Another leg of the Oxfordshire Way with Merv and Pud. We picked up the route at Grove Lane and headed south east across fields to soon reach Charlbury. We have a special interest in Charlbury because Liz and Bob who we bought our house from in 2000 moved there - we still exchange Christmas cards. It was amusing to walk past their house as we made our way through the village. In Sheep St we checked out the suitability of the Bull Inn for lunch.
We passed the handsome Friends Meeting house of 1779 with its red brick arches and enjoyed the mainly stone houses of the town. I especially liked this late Victorian cottage.
At the south east corner of the village we followed a narrow - and extremely muddy - path towards Stonesfield. There were nice views to the west through gaps in the bushes.
A bit further on Cornbury Park came into view. There was a hunting lodge there, in the Royal Forest of Wychwood, as early as 1337 according to Pevsner, but the earliest part of the present house is 16th century.
Eventually we emerged into fields, which we crossed to reach Stonesfield. This seemed to be an interesting village, but we did not pause to investigate it because the heaviest of the numerous showers came on us just as we were entering the village. It appears that Stonesfield is notable as the one-time source of the stone slates which adorn many Oxfordshire houses. We did not unfortunately see the Early English parish church, described by Pevsner as having undergone a "lunatic restoration" in 1876.
From the village a track leads down to a bridge and swimming place by the River Evenlode, today in use by dogs rather than people.
Here we turned sharply left (north east) to join an old Roman road, Akeman Street. It once linked Watling Street with the Fosse Way. We followed it past the site of a Roman villa ...
... and across a couple of fields to reach the end of today's section. Next time we will continue along Akeman St for another 5 miles, through Blenheim Park.
Conditions: warm but showery; muddy under foot in many places.
Distance: just under 7 miles.
Maps: Explorer OL45 (The Cotswolds), 180 (Oxford, Witney and Woodstock), 191 (Banbury, Bicester and Chipping Norton).
Rating: three and half stars.
Flowers of the day
It was good to see some poppies in full bloom in the corner of a field of rape.
More unusual was this wild Mignonette.