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Almshill Wood and Stonor Park

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Almshill Wood and Stonor Park
Author: Claire, Published: 20 Aug 2014 Walk rating : Rating:star1 Almshill Wood and Stonor Park Oxfordshire Walking Guidestar1 Almshill Wood and Stonor Park Oxfordshire Walking Guidestar1 Almshill Wood and Stonor Park Oxfordshire Walking Guidestar1 Almshill Wood and Stonor Park Oxfordshire Walking Guidestar0 Almshill Wood and Stonor Park Oxfordshire Walking Guide
Oxfordshire, Chilterns
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Almshill Wood and Stonor Park
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot Almshill Wood and Stonor Park Oxfordshire Walking Guide boot Almshill Wood and Stonor Park Oxfordshire Walking Guide boot Almshill Wood and Stonor Park Oxfordshire Walking Guide
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A 3.5 mile circular walk from the small village of Stonor (formerly known as Upper Assendon) in Oxfordshire. The walk climbs through the pretty Almshill Wood and then follows a quiet country lane to reach the Stonor Estate. The return leg follows the path through the heart of Stonor Park, a beautiful deer park, to return to the village. You will have chance to enjoy lovely views across the surrounding Chiltern Hills, to appreciate the woodland flowers in the spring and to learn about the fascinating history of Stonor House.

The walk has one very steep climb at the beginning and then a long steady descent for the second half. About 1.5 miles of the walk follows a quiet country access lane so take care of any occasional traffic on this stretch. You will need to negotiate two stiles (both with large gaps underneath for dogs to pass through) plus three kissing gates. There may be cattle in the first short field that you cross (although there weren’t any livestock there when we walked) and the return leg follows a long path through a deer park. For your own safety it is sensible to avoid taking dogs through deer parks during the rutting and birthing seasons. The woodland/park paths are fairly firm but can get muddy in winter and after periods of rain. Approximate time 1.5 hours.

Stonor is located on the B480 about 4 miles north of Henley-on-Thames in South Oxfordshire. Parking is available in the stone lay-by area at the southern edge of the village, opposite the large barns for Upper Assendon Farm. Approximate post code RG9 6HE.

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Walk Sections

Start to Coxlease Farm
Start to Coxlease Farm

Start point: 51.5892 lat, -0.9402 long
End point: 51.5885 lat, -0.9312 long

Standing in the gravel parking lay-by, facing the farm barns opposite, turn right and walk to the southern end of the lay-by. Cross the road here to take the stile opposite. Stay close to the fence line on the left, passing the farm barns on the left. At the top of the field, cross the next stile into a section of woodland.

Keep ahead on the path climbing through the pretty Almshill Wood. The path climbs fairly steeply and you will see occasional white arrows painted on the tree trunks, confirming the route of the footpath. The narrow woodland path will eventually emerge to the corner of a vehicle track.

Keep left/ahead along this track, still climbing. Shortly you will come to a crossroads of tracks. Go ahead on the track branch which initially passes between trees and then leads you alongside a fenced brick property on the right. Stay on the track, passing cattle barns on the left, and then take the metal kissing gate on the right to reach the concrete driveway for the farm you have just passed, Coxlease Farm.

Coxlease Farm to The Chiltern Way
Coxlease Farm to The Chiltern Way

Start point: 51.5885 lat, -0.9312 long
End point: 51.6008 lat, -0.9149 long

Turn left along this concrete driveway and follow it down to the junction with the quiet country lane. Turn left along this lane, taking care of any occasional traffic. Stay on this lane for some distance, following it as it bends sharp right and then swings steadily left.

The lane leads you past Kildridge Wood on the left, part of the Stonor Estate. Towards the end of this long straight stretch, you will pass the gated entrance for Bosmore Farm on the right. A little further along, the lane begins to swing right. A few paces later, turn left onto the side road signed for Southend.

The trees on the right soon give way to a beautiful woven living hedgerow, with view of the woodland Chiltern slopes beyond. Keep your eyes peeled for the beautiful red kites which can often be seen soaring overhead here. Sometimes as many as fifty birds at a time can be seen circling above Stonor Park. Soon after the trees begin again on the right, you will come to a signed crossroads with a stone track. Turn left here, signed for the Chiltern Way.

The Chiltern Way to End
The Chiltern Way to End

Start point: 51.6008 lat, -0.9149 long
End point: 51.5895 lat, -0.9398 long

You will pass a pair of brick and flint cottages on the right, then keep ahead alongside the wide metal gate to join the stone track heading into Stonor Park. Simply keep straight ahead on the main stone path which narrows and descends. Once again you will see occasional white arrows painted onto the trees confirming the line of the footpath.

At the bottom of the slope, the path narrows further and swings right to wind through a section of laurel bushes. This section of the path, which can be fairly overgrown with laurels, will lead you to a tall kissing gate into the deer park. Note: you may come across deer from this point and dogs must be on a lead from this point.

Keep ahead on the obvious stone path through the deer park. If you are lucky (as we were), you may get a glimpse of the herd of fallow deer that once supplied venison to the medieval kings and queens of England. Soon the stunning views of the rolling Chiltern Hills open up ahead. Towards the bottom of the slope, the path crosses a track and continues with the remnants of an old deer fence on the left. White arrows at intervals continue to mark the way.

Soon, Stonor house comes into view on the right, built from around 1190 and topped with its distinctive bell tower. Stonor House has been home to the Stonor family for the last eight centuries. The Stonor family’s steadfast adherence to the Roman Catholic faith, even through the years of the reformation, led to their marginalisation and persecution. This inadvertently resulted in the preservation of the house in a relatively unimproved state. The house was built on the site of a prehistoric stone circle and the remains of the circle are still visible in front of the house. The house and grounds are a popular setting for films and TV and have appeared in the James Bond film, Living Daylights, as well as Midsomer Murders and Hornblower.

After passing Stonor House down to the right, the path continues directly ahead through the centre of open parkland. Eventually the path will lead you down to another tall kissing gate at the edge of the park. Pass through this to reach a T-junction with the B480 road. Turn left along the grass verge alongside the road. Before you reach the left-hand bend, it is safer to swap to the right-hand verge.

You will pass Stonor’s Dower House on the left. Take care along this next stretch to avoid the traffic as the grass verge comes and goes. Follow the road passing a number of properties and the village pub. At the southern edge of the village you will come to the parking area where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2014 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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