Tag: dog walks oxfordshire

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – The Thames: Abingdon to Clifton Hampden

A few weeks ago, we decided that we’d like to have a go walking the length of the River Thames. Not all at once you understand, but going from lock to lock. While we’ve walked parts of it before, we’d like to make sure we walk all of it. We aren’t planning to do it in any particular order, as it all depends on how far the distance is between locks, how far it is and where the pubs are!

We decided to start in Abingdon and walk through Culham lock to Clifton lock. We didn’t want to walk back the way we came, so we parked one car at Rye Farm car park in Abingdon where we started our walk and another at the Barley Mow car park, as we planned on eating lunch there.

Abingdon Lock The Thames at Abingdon Rowing on the ThamesThe Thames Path at Abingdon Poppy in the Thames Culham Lock Mallow wildflower White YarrowRailway bridge over the Thames Poppydog at Clifton lock Clifton Lock

I love walking by the locks with their lock keeper cottages. They always make me thing of ‘times gone by’! It’s fascinating to think of the locks being built to help boats get about and I’d love to travel along the Thames by boat and wave at dog walkers walking on by.

The walk from Abingdon lock is a lovely one. It’s easy going with beautiful views across the river and fields. There are loads of pillboxes hidden all over the place along the Thames, as well as loads of different wildlife and plants. We even saw a heron in the middle of a field!

Be wary of other people using the path, especially at points where the path becomes narrow. We met a cyclist coming in the opposite direction and it wasn’t easy to pass them, especially with Poppy trying to get close to them, wanting to get a chin rub off them!

We aren’t doing the locks in any particular order. I can’t wait for the next installment!

The Walk: The walk along the Thames path is fairly easy, just about 6 miles (I think). There are a few sections that can get muddy and slippy, most noticeably just after the Culham lock, near the firing range.
Cost: Free
Car Park: We parked one car at the Rye Farm car park for three hours for £1.50. That was enough time for us to walk up to the Abingdon lock to start our walk. We parked another at the Barley Mow car park for our return journey.
Refreshments: We had lunch at the Barley Mow in Clifton Hampden, sitting outside with Poppy. While vegan options are limited (I had a jacket potato with baked beans!), the food can be pretty good here.
Toilets: There is a toilet at the start of the walk just under the bridge in Abingdon, but you do have to pay for it.

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – Wittenham Clumps

A few years ago, BP (Before Poppy), we walked up Wittenham Clumps, or more realistically, we wheezed our way up them. We were determined then to improve our fitness and return, with the aim of getting up them without needing a rest at the top. We decided a few weeks ago that it would be a good idea to have another go at the clumps! Previously we’ve parked in Dorchester-on-Thames, walked to the clumps and back along the same route. This time, we started at the top of the clumps and parked in the Earth Trust car park. We did the Little Wittenham nature reserve walk and you can find a map of the circular walk in the Clumps car park, and here, but we extended our walk by popping into Dorchester for a spot of lunch.

The walk starts off from the car park up a gentle incline towards Castle Hill. There was a herd of beautiful cows there when we arrived. Poppy is so used to them now that I only worry a little bit! The views from the top of the hills are amazing and there’s a guide at the top of Round Hill that shows you what the different points of interest are, which is a great idea. We then headed into Little Wittenham wood. It was amazing. As you walk down the steps, the atmosphere changes so much. It’s much cooler and quieter and trees are really tall. There were loads of butterflies throughout the more open areas of the wood too. Along the way, just off the path, there’s a bird hide, which is well worth popping into. When we went, the water level was quite low so there weren’t many birds about. However, there were loads of butterflies gathering pollen from the buddleja. We headed towards the Thames once we left the hide. We followed it towards Dorchester, where we headed for Lily’s Tea Rooms. It’s a lovely little tea room, where they offer a light lunches, a selection of breakfasts and delicious cakes. It’s well worth a visit.

View from Wittenham ClumpsWittenham clumps cowPoppydog at Wittenham ClumpsBee with pollenWhite butterfly on thistle Double Butterfly ButterflyThe Thames at Dorchester Wittenham Clumps

On our return, we knew we had to walk up Round Hill. It’s a steep old climb but we were determined to do it. And we did! What I was most impressed impressed with was how well we recovered from it. It’s not an easy climb, and if you’re put of it, you can go round the base of the hill to get back to the car park. But if you can, go for the climb and reward yourself with cake!

The walks around Wittenham Clumps are really lovely. There are a number to choose from, depending on how long you’ve got and how much you want to challenge yourself. Whichever you choose, make sure your get to the top of Round Hill for those amazing Oxfordshire views!

The Walk: The walk isn’t always easy. The clumps can be quite steep in places and there are times where the walk is very uneven underfoot. Good walking boots are essential! If you’d like something a little easier, then have a look at the other walks available on the Earth Trust website.
Cost: Free
Car Park: There’s quite a decent car park at the start of the walk, which was almost empty at the start of our walk. It’s the Earth Trust Clumps car park.
Refreshments: We had a lovely spot of lunch at Lily’s Tea Room in Dorchester and there’s a little farm stall on the public footpath between the clumps and Dorchester, where you can get a selection of drinks, cakes and ice cream.
Toilets: There are some in the car park in Dorchester.

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – Tar Lakes, Witney

A few weeks ago, we headed to Rushy Common Nature Reserve for an early morning dog walk. We didn’t realise that we’d need a key to access the bird hide, so we went for a walk around the Tar Lakes opposite. Phil found a circular walk that would be just as good. We crossed over and headed for the lakes. I’ve never been before and couldn’t believe how beautiful they were. Plus, there were butterflies and dragonflies everywhere! They were amazing, dancing from flower to flower. Wildlife at its best!

Witney Tar Lakes Tar Lakes Tar Lakes walk Tar Lakes dragonfly Tar Lakes circular walk Grebe at Tar Lakes Tar Lakes at Witney Tar Lakes witney Ox Eye Daisy

As you can see, it was a glorious day. We walked around the Tar Lakes and headed out on the public footpath across the River Windrush. We stayed on this path, which heads to Hardwick, but headed right instead. We stayed on this path until it joined with the bridleway, which leads back to the car park at Rushy Common. You can download a map here. As you can see from the map, you can walk all the way to Witney along this path, which would be an excellent walk to do. If you’re feeling like something a little more easy going, then stay on the path around the Tar Lakes. It’s been developed so carefully that there’s wheelchair access and lots of viewing points to watch the birds and other wildlife. I’d definitely like to go back at a different time of year to see other types of wildlife doing their thing.

The Walk: The walk we did took a few hours and went through fields and along the river. However, if that’s not your thing, you can walk around the Tar Lakes.
Cost: Free
Car Park: There’s a small car park at Rushy Common Nature Reserve, which has a path that leads to the Tar Lakes. It’s free, but small so get there early.
Refreshments: There’s no where nearby so why not pack up a Thermos and some cake and enjoy the view of the lakes from one of the benches.
Toilets: No.

Dog Walks in Oxfordshire – Warburg Nature Reserve

It all started with a plan to try and find some early orchids. While Phil’s main focus is the birds, mine is flowers when we’re out and about. He had seen online about some early orchids at BBOWT’s Warburg Nature Reserve so a few weekends back, we headed there to see what we could see. Just outside Henley-on-Thames, Warburg is a lovely nature reserve, with a few different walks to do, depending on what you’ve got time for, two bird hides and plenty of plants and wildlife to practice your photography on.

Purple Orchid
BBOWT Warburg Purple Flower Warburg Poppydog at Warburg A Crafty Chai at WarburgWarburg Nature ReserveWarburg Bird HideBullfinchChaffinch Warburg Great Tit WarburgWarburg BirdsChaffinchFlying Chaffinch

We managed to spot an early purple orchid, thanks to the map at the visitor centre and some help via Google images. I was pretty pleased with our little find. I always imagine wild orchids to be as big as the ones we have at home, but the ones out during early spring are small so you really have to keep your eyes peeled. It’s well worth it because when you see one for yourself, it’s amazing!

We did the main circular walk, which takes less than an hour. There are open areas as well as woodland walks, which Poppy enjoyed. Then we spent quite a bit of time in the two bird hides, waiting patiently. We saw a bullfinch, a chaffinch, great tits, blue tits and many more. Between Phil and I, we managed to work out what the birds were using apps, binoculars and cameras. Thank goodness for technology, or we’d have no idea what we’d seen. It’s so hard to take pictures of birds with my camera, as they move quicker than I do.

We’ll definitely go back to Warburg Nature Reserve, though I’d like to walk there from Henley. Getting to the reserve isn’t easy, as it’s at the end of road in need of repair. The car park is also quite small so if you can walk there, it’s best to do so.

The Walk: There are a number of walks you can do around the reserve, depending on what you want to do. I would recommend making time for at least one of the bird hides, if you can.
Cost: Free
Car Park: The car park is small and free, though donations are welcome.
Refreshments: No.
Toilets: There are some in the visitor centre.