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Shotover Country Park Boundary Patrol

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Shotover Country Park Boundary Patrol
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 07 Jan 2016 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Oxfordshire, Oxford
Walk Type: Garden or park
Shotover Country Park Boundary Patrol
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A circular walk of just more than 3 miles, around the footpaths in Shotover Country Park right on the edge of Oxford. Covering 289 acres, the country park sits on the southern slopes of Shotover Hill. There are spectacular views across south Oxfordshire from the top and the waymarked walking route explores the mosaic of hidden valleys, woodland, ponds, fields and grassland with lots of wildlife to enjoy.

Some of the paths are surfaced, but the vast majority of the route follows unmade paths through shaded woodland and grassland (even crossing some springs) meaning they can be muddy throughout the year – boots or wellies are recommended. There are several climbs and descents throughout (take care as the steeper slopes can be slippery) and you will need to negotiate some steps, gates and squeeze gaps, but there are no stiles on route. Dogs are welcome in the park and dog waste bins are provided near the start of the walk. There are no toilets or other facilities within the park. Allow 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on conditions underfoot.

Shotover Country Park is located just to the east of Oxford in Oxfordshire. There is a large free car park, at the end of Old Road. Follow Old Road east from Headington over the eastern bypass and up a steep hill to the top where the road ends in the main car park. Nearest post code is OX3 8TA, which will take you to a point on Old Road. From here, head east along Old Road as described above.

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Walk Sections

Start to Julia's Cottage
Start to Julia's Cottage

Start point: 51.7517 lat, -1.1846 long
End point: 51.7511 lat, -1.1928 long

To begin the walk, enter the park through the single gate alongside the cycle parking rack. On the right here you will see a large noticeboard with information about Shotover Country Park. Standing with your back to the cycle rack and gate, take the path to the right (at about 3 o’clock) which runs along the right-hand edge of Mary Sadler Field (marked with the green square waymarker). It is this green square waymarker that you will be following throughout the route.

From this high vantage point there are great views across south Oxfordshire to the left. Simply stay with the path along the right-hand edge of the field as it leads you steadily downhill to reach a T-junction. Turn right and follow this path downhill. At the fork, keep right on the path heading steeply downhill between trees. Continue through the dip at the bottom and stay with the same path as it winds through the next section of woodland.

Further along the path leads you down a set of broad woodland steps. At the bottom, keep right and after a short distance you will emerge alongside a gateway to reach a quiet access lane. Turn left along the access lane, passing the entrance for Julia’s Cottage on your left.

Julia's Cottage to Brasenose Footbridge
Julia's Cottage to Brasenose Footbridge

Start point: 51.7511 lat, -1.1928 long
End point: 51.7459 lat, -1.1931 long

Continue along the lane, passing Long Ridges on your left and a short distance later (opposite the entrance for Roundabouts on your left), turn right through the squeeze gap. A few paces along, keep left at the fork. When you reach a crossroads of paths (with the green square waymarker), turn left. Follow the path winding through the trees and at the fork (alongside orienteering post 9), keep left to cross a narrow sleeper bridge over a stream.

You will emerge to a junction with a concrete access road. Turn right along this. These concrete roads were laid out in 1940 as part of a wartime encampment for 1,500 troops. As you reach a double bend in the main track, fork left and follow the smaller concrete track into the woodland (with the traffic of the eastern bypass audible across to your right). At the T-junction turn left for a few paces and then turn immediately right onto the surfaced path which leads you to a pretty footbridge at the entrance to Brasenose Woods.

Brasenose Footbridge to Westhill Farm
Brasenose Footbridge to Westhill Farm

Start point: 51.7459 lat, -1.1931 long
End point: 51.7458 lat, -1.1813 long

Cross the footbridge and walk straight ahead on the obvious path into the woodland. Further along, follow the green square waymarker which guides you to turn left. Now stay with the main obvious path winding through Brasenose Woods.

Brasenose Woods has been managed as coppiced woodland since 1570 when Elizabeth I granted coppicing rights to Brasenose College, part of Oxford University. In spring the floor is awash with flowers including bluebell, primrose and celandine, whilst the birdlife is also very rich; the dawn chorus during May is said to be deafening. Keep your eyes peeled for deer too – we were lucky enough to see two run across our path when we walked.

The path leads you past a single oak tree (with a log bench beneath) which sits in the centre of the path. Just beyond this, keep left at the fork. Keep straight ahead at the first crossroads and then turn right at the next crossroads. Follow this path out to reach a T-junction with a concrete road. Turn left and continue for about 60 metres to reach another T-junction.

Turn right along the tarmac access lane. Some way along, stay with the vehicle lane as it swings left over the bridge across the brook and then climbs steadily with a large open field on your left. This field is used as a hay meadow and is popular with owls, kestrels and sparrowhawks which love to hunt here. At the top of the field you will reach a junction of multiple paths.

Turn right, staying with the main lane (and merging with the route waymarked with a yellow circle). Follow the vehicle lane steadily uphill until you reach a waymarker about 60 metres before the gates for Westhill Farm.

Westhill Farm to Ben's Bridge
Westhill Farm to Ben's Bridge

Start point: 51.7458 lat, -1.1813 long
End point: 51.7458 lat, -1.1788 long

Fork left at this point (marked with both the yellow circle and green square) and then bear left again at the T-junction to join the stony track heading steadily uphill. Part way up the hill, turn right (marked with the green square) and follow this path downhill to reach a T-junction at the back of Westhill Farm.

Turn left, still heading downhill, to reach the wide sleeper bridge at the bottom of the valley known as Ben’s Bridge. The bridge is named after Ben the donkey, who was kept in the garden of the nearby farmhouse. For years the inquisitive Ben would often come to the corner of the garden to greet those passing by and you could hear him braying from anywhere on the hillside.

Ben's Bridge to Horspath Common Corner
Ben's Bridge to Horspath Common Corner

Start point: 51.7458 lat, -1.1788 long
End point: 51.7443 lat, -1.1715 long

Cross this wide sleeper bridge and take the right-hand of the two paths ahead (the left-hand path being the yellow trail and the right-hand path being the green square trail). The path leads you steeply uphill to a fork. Bear right and follow the winding path first downhill and then climbing steeply once again (NOTE: take care as this path crosses a spring line meaning it is usually wet and slippery). You will emerge out to a section of open ground.

Follow the obvious path which swings steadily left through the grass clearing, passing a large ivy-clad old ash tree on your right. The path swings right behind the ash tree and then swings left to reach a T-junction with a sandy bridleway track. NOTE: This is a popular bridleway so look out for cyclists and horse riders.

Turn left, heading uphill. At the first junction keep straight ahead (ignoring the public footpath forking left) and at the second junction, turn right (passing orienteering post 16). Follow this path (with a wire fence on your right). As you enter the edge of an open clearing, keep right on the path closest to the wire fence. Follow this path steeply downhill via some old steps (do take care as it can be slippery).

At the T-junction, turn right and follow this path with another section of wire fence running within the hedgerow on your right. Stay with this right-hand hedgeline until you reach the sleeper bridge and low stile at the far bottom corner of Horspath Common.

Horspath Common Corner to End
Horspath Common Corner to End

Start point: 51.7443 lat, -1.1715 long
End point: 51.7518 lat, -1.1839 long

Do NOT cross the stile, instead turn left with the fenced common area and follow the path uphill with the fence running on your right. Part way up the hill, turn left on the small path marked with the green square. Go straight ahead at the crossroads and follow the path heading steadily uphill then bearing left. The path now swings right to reach a junction at the top of the hill.

Turn right and, quite soon after, turn left at the T-junction. Beyond the hedgerow on your right, is the field known as Rowe Field or Red Sharde Field. It is of archaeological interest as pieces of knapped flint and ancient pottery have been found here.

Stay with the path running closest to Rowe Field on your right. You will emerge to a junction with a sandy bridleway, turn right along this. At the end of the bridleway you will reach a staggered junction. Turn right (through the gap in the hedgerow) and then immediately left. Follow the path along this wide grass verge (known as The Plain). Running parallel on your right is the small access lane of Old Road. The Plain and Old Road formed the original road from London to Oxford until about 1790. Thankfully, today the path is no longer targeted by highwaymen!

Follow the plain for about half a mile and it will lead you directly back to the car park where the walk began.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2016 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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3 images to "Shotover Country Park Boundary Patrol"

5367_0Richard1452161191 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
This was taken near the start of the walk in Jan 2015. Very wet and muddy but still passable with boots so definitely worth walking.
5367_1Richard1452161191 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
The soil at the beginning (and end) of the route is very red.... easy to see thanks to Mr Mole...
5367_2Richard1452161191 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 01 Jan 1970
Bobbie really enjoyed the walk meeting lots of dogs and families of walkers on the way round. She took some of the red mud home on her paws as a souvenir!

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