Monday, 6 May 2013

Wheatfield to Pishill (Oxfordshire Way 9)

Wheatfields: the former stable block

The penultimate stage of the Oxfordfordshire Way. We met up with Merv and Pud at Wheatfield, where all that remains of a country house are the exquisite chapel (see Albury to Wheatfield for a photo) and the stable block above, now Park Farm.

We headed across fields to soon be thrilled by the sight of a pair of hares, unconcernedly going about their business. We were then confronted by the rather incongruous chimney of Model Farm, an early (1857) example of agricultural mechanisation. I haven't been able to discover what the chimney powered - threshing perhaps?

Before long we entered the pretty village of Pyrton, passing an interesting octagonal house to reach the main street.

Here we admired the red brick village hall with its dutch gable, a nice dovecote mounted on the roofline of some cottages ...

... and the charming church of St Mary (12th century, but rebuilt in 1856 by J C Buckler with curious corner buttresses).

Next to the church was a magnificent pair of trees (cherries maybe?) in full blossom.

We enjoyed a fine three storey mansion on the edge of the village too, and walked on down the road to cross the B4001 to begin a long climb into the Chilterns, and fundamentally different countryside from what we have been walking in. We crossed The Ridgeway as we headed uphill: a possible future project? Watlington Hill was on our right and Pyrton Hill (below) on our left.

At the top, we crossed a field to emerge in the hamlet Christmas Common and then enter Prior's Grove, where we were entranced by the delicate green of the young beech leaves.

So entranced in fact that we strayed off the route for a short while, but skilful map reading from Merv brought us back on route to join a descending track through the dramatically named Fire Wood.

Some we some clumps of bluebells on the sunnier slope and at the bottom they became denser, though still not fully out.

At the end of the wood we crossed a couple of fields to enter College Wood, where the bluebells were thicker, an effect increased by the lower camera angle of this shot.

Although we think that everything in nature is late this year, it was interesting to find that last year's first bluebell wood photo was in Bruern Woods when we had just started the Oxfordshire Way, on the same date. The delay is being caught up very quickly it would seem.

We emerged from the wood to follow a path beside the slope of Whitehill Shaw to reach Pishill (pronounced pish-ill for those who might wonder) and a nice lunch in the Crown Inn.

Conditions: bright and sunny, warm, maybe 16 degrees.

Distance:  7.75 miles. Distance now covered 61.25 miles.

Maps: Explorer 171 (Chiltern Hills West).

Rating: four stars.

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