In winter the Chiltern Hills take on a different, starker character and under snow they are truly breathtaking. The beech trees for which the hills are famous look magnificent with their branches snow clad, and there are fine views over Oxfordshire and Berkshire. Well wrapped up on a cold, clear winter’s day, enjoy the beauty of these hills and your cobwebs (or Christmas feasting) will be blown away.
From Nuffield’s partly Norman church, walk west along the lane, soon turning left along the edge of a field with fine wide views westward. Watch steam rising from Didcot’s cooling towers into the cold winter air and kites soaring overhead. Continue ahead within a tree belt and, where the Ridgeway path goes right to follow Grim’s Ditch, continue ahead. Reaching a beech copse jink right, then left, cross a cottage access over a stile, the path bearing left at the end of its garden.
Reaching a track, bear right, signed to Upper House Farm. The track descends through Mongewell Wood, with luck the coppice and trees cloaked in snow. Out of the woods continue ahead on a grassy track, more expansive views across the vale ahead.
Soon the path skirts a thick wood, and at Woodhouse Farm goes left between farm sheds up into Wicks Wood. Out of the wood continue ahead on a track, eventually passing Poors Farm with its enormous early 19th-century brick barn, to reach Hailey.
Turn left to pass or visit the very popular King William pub with its good food, continuing ahead on to a track. The byway ascends gently and then descends through Bixmoor Wood, bearing left at a track fork to continue along the edge of Little Common.
Continue, and just beyond Homer Farm go right through a kissing gate and shortly through another. Descend between fences then bear right along the edge of a wood. At a footpath crossroads go left along a metalled track, now on Ipsden Heath. Reaching a road, go left and opposite a signpost for Homer Farm go right at the footpath sign into more woods.
Cross a track to a stile and continue ahead alongside a hedge, then through pasture to cross a lane via two stiles.
The path goes right towards trees. Over a
stile pass to the left of a tennis court with a beech hedge on your left. At a drive go left and through a gate over a cattle grid. Keep the hedge on your left and continue ahead.
At the lane turn right and skirt English Farm and its barns on a metalled track. Bear right after the last barn into a valley, due east of the farmhouse, an ash copse on your left.
At the end of a copse, go left over a stile, to climb half left across pasture. Over another stile, bear left for 20m, then left on to a well-treed path. The path continues through attractive beech shaws. Beyond these continue ahead to the road in Nuffield, cross the road and walk back to Nuffield church.
Mainly footpaths and tracks with very little road. There is a good mix of woodland and arable (but no ploughed fields to cross) and some pasture after point 3. Being in the Chiltern Hills there are a fair number of contours crossed but nothing too strenuous. There are a few stiles, mostly after point 3.
how to get there
By car: Turn south off
the A4130 Henley to Wallingford road.
By public transport:
The 139 bus route from Henley to Wallingford stops near The Crown on the A4130 at Nuffield Common and offers a roughly hourly service Monday to Saturday and a sparse one on Sundays.
The nearest railway station is Cholsey on the Paddington to Reading line.
The King William
Hailey, Ipsden, Wallingford
% 01491 681845
The River and
Mill Meadows, Henley on Thames RG9 1BF
% 01491 415600
Explorer Map 171.
Grid ref: SU 667 873
Visit South Oxfordshire
The Chilterns AONB