Sunday, 9 November 2014


The Town Hall

A lovely day and I felt I just had to get out for a walk. We had been through Watlington a number of times when walking the Oxfordshire Way and the Ridgeway, but never had time for a proper look. I thought I would correct that omission.

I started from the car park and headed towards the centre of the town quickly coming on this terrace of houses. It is known as Chiltern Gate and was built in 1865 as a training school for domestic servants and was later a hospital

At the end of the road is the crossroads where the fine Town Hall stands. It was built in 1664-5, at the expense of Thomas Stonor, as a market hall with a boys school above. The school continued until the late 19th century.

I then followed the route on the very good Town Walk leaflet I had downloaded from the Parish Council website. It leads along the High St which has a fine medley of old houses, many of them former pubs. At the end is the war memorial which has apparently won many prizes for being the best kept in Oxfordshire. A picture seemed appropriate as it was Remembrance Sunday.

Then along Chapel St, where I was delighted to see a Peacock flying briefly around before it disappeared under some eaves, doubtless to hibernate. The street had some nice thatched houses. I then turned right and soon followed a path to reach the church of St Leonard. It is mainly Victorian, but the impressive tower dates back to the 15th century.

I headed on to Broojk St where I picked up a footpath for my planned walk to Watlington Hill. The path led initially across fields and then along a field edge where I was surprised to find a lone poppy still in flower. There were lovely views towards Watlington Hill.

A left turn led onto a section of the Ridgeway and the B480. You turn along the road for a short way and then left to begin teh long climb up to Watlington Hill. I heard a number of Kites in the field to my left and soon realised that there were no less than six of them wheeling around in the sky. By the expedient of focusing on the top branch of the nearest tree and then quickly recomposing my picture I got a  reasonable shot of five of them.

I headed across the slope of the Hill and soon enjoyed this wonderful view down to Watlington.

To the right there was another nice view towards Pyrton Hill.

I descended a wide grassy path to join the road and return to the town.

Conditions: sunny, clear and surprisingly warm.

 Distance: four miles.

Map: Explorer 171 (Chiltern Hills West)

Rating: four stars. Interesting town, great views from the Hill.

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