This walk commemorates the legend of the rector of North Marston from 1290-1313, Sir John Schorne, who ‘conjured the Devil into a boot’ and who was said to be able to do this at will. Another legend is that during a drought he struck the ground with his staff and water gushed forth. This is the now the Schorne Well seen en-route, its waters reputed to help cure gout. A cult grew up and although he was never canonised, miracles were attributed to Schorne, while North Marston became a popular place for many medieval pilgrims.
From Quainton village green head towards the 1830 windmill, turn right, passing the Village Store, to visit the church with its superb 17th and 18th-century Dormer monuments. From the church the lane curves north, soon going left over a stile onto the waymarked Matthew’s Way. Continue parallel to a farm access drive and converge with it at a hedge gap.
Continue ahead, leaving the farm lane where it bears left, to continue uphill towards thorn trees. Over a stile, climb half-right, eventually descending towards a lone oak tree, the stile nearby. Continue half-right, the pasture alive with meadow brown butterflies. North Marston appearing in the vale below, descend past a post and cattle trough and go half-left to a stile.
Cross Carter’s Lane, once a Roman road, and through a farm yard go half-left in the next field to a double stile by a pond. Over this take the right-hand path, leaving Matthew’s Way, and head to a footbridge and field gate. The route continues east across seven fields, one of wheat, the rest pasture, with North Marston church tower a guide. At the Portway road go right, then left onto a path near the bus stop and along a close to the tile-roofed Schorne Well, noting the lead boot with the Devil peering out and a statuette of Sir John Schorne. Continue ahead and go right to North Marston’s superb church, which once held Schorne’s shrine.
Leave the churchyard near the tower and descend the lane to the village green. Beyond The Bell pub, go left down a lane signposted Hogshaw and Quainton. Continue along this lane and leave the village. Just past Brook Farm, at the village gates, go right over a stile and skirt the edge of one field to another. Cross two pastures, aiming towards the chimneys of Fulbrook Farm. Over the stile the route joins the North Bucks Way, a well-marked route.
The next field crossed has the earthworks of the deserted medieval village of Fulbrook, the farmhouse being all that is left. Through a hand gate the route becomes steep, heading between two ridges and past the remains of a 17th-century conduit or well head. Breasting the crest, head towards the telecom mast and go through a hand gate.
Before reaching the mast veer right to a stile in the corner of the field. This last section of the walk has terrific views over the Vale of Aylesbury and out to Oxfordshire as well. Then broadly follow the ridge before dropping down into Quainton via a kissing gate.
Arable fields and pasture. Quainton Hill rises 250 feet (75m) above the vale in which North Marston lies. The hills are bracing, superb and offer great views in all directions. Dogs need to be on leads for most of the route and there are numerous stiles.
How to get there
By car: Turn north off the A41 Aylesbury to Bicester road.
By public transport: The 16 bus route from Aylesbury to Bicester stops in Quainton, often a half-hourly service, www.traveline.info. The nearest railway station is Aylesbury on the Chiltern Line from Marylebone.
The George and Dragon Quainton, Aylesbury
The Five Arrows
High Street, Waddeson,
Aylesbury HP18 0JE 01296 651727
Buckinghamshire Railway Centre, 1 mile (1.6km) south of Quainton. This is a working steam museum with a relocated Victorian station from Oxford. There are various steaming and static open days while the station building with its bookshop, cafe and exhibits is often open (admission £3 per adult).
Ordnance Survey Explorer 192. Grid ref: SP 746 201