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The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trail

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The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trail
Author: Claire, Published: 20 Jun 2018 Walk Rating:star1 The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trailstar1 The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trailstar1 The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trailstar1 The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trailstar1 The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trail
Oxfordshire, Stoke Row
Walk Type: Woodland
The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trail
Length: 4 miles,  Difficulty: boot The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trail boot The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trail
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A 4 mile circular pub walk from The Cherry Tree Inn in Stoke Row, near Henley-on-Thames in Oxfordshire and within the Chilterns Hills, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). The Cherry Tree Inn has been a pub for more than 200 years and is the perfect balance of a great food pub that also retains its heart as a true country inn. The walking route explores the great expanses of typical Chiltern beech woodlands that surround the village of Stoke Row, with plenty of wildlife to enjoy and a spectacle of colour in the autumn. You will also be rewarded with a glimpse of the mansion of Wyfold Court and a visit to the Maharaja’s Well, an unexpected but glorious landmark within the village.

The walk has several steady climbs and descents throughout, but there are no steep sections. It follows woodland paths, stone tracks, access tracks with a couple of short stretches of road walking along lanes (which are usually quiet). Some stretches are rutted and can get muddy after periods of rain and in winter. There are no stiles or livestock on route, with just a gate and a kissing gate to negotiate on the optional visit to the well at the end of the walk. Allow 2 hours.

The village of Stoke Row is located about 5 miles west of Henley-on-Thames in South Oxfordshire and about 9 miles north of Reading. The walk starts and finishes from The Cherry Tree Inn on Main Street in the centre of the village. The pub has its own car park and there is also roadside parking available within the village. Approximate post code RG9 5QA.

Walk Sections

Start to Bush Wood
Start to Bush Wood

Start point: 51.5509 lat, -1.016 long
End point: 51.5527 lat, -1.0114 long

Leave the pub car park via the vehicle entrance and turn left along the pavement. Cross over the first side road, Cherry Tree Close, and you will pass the small Stoke Row Chapel on your left. This chapel dates from 1815 and is fully independent of religious denominations, offering a spiritual home to the local community and walkers alike.

Cross over the next side road, Newlands Lane, and then keep straight ahead along the edge of the village green. At the far end of the green, turn left onto the tarmac access lane (signed as a public footpath). Pass Corner Cottage on your right and then, where the lane bends left, go straight ahead to join the gravel footpath leading you between garden walls and hedgerows.

Ignore the first gate on your right (which leads to the tennis courts), instead keep ahead on the path to reach a T-junction with a stone access drive. Turn right for a few paces (to enter the sports and leisure club car park) and then turn immediately left to follow the edge of the sports field, with a hedgerow on your left and the cricket ground on your right. In the field corner, keep straight ahead on the woodland path and, after just a few metres, you will emerge to a junction of woodland paths within Bush Wood.

Bush Wood to The Old Place
Bush Wood to The Old Place

Start point: 51.5527 lat, -1.0114 long
End point: 51.5502 lat, -0.9995 long

Turn right at this junction (the furthest right option) to follow the path which leads you through the woodland with the edge of the cricket ground running parallel on your right. Just a little way along, you will see another entrance into the cricket ground on your right and a woodland path on your left – ignore both of these, instead keep ahead on the main path which bears slightly right. Continue just a little way further, to reach a waymarker post on your right.

Turn left here to join the public footpath, signed with a yellow arrow. Keep ahead on this woodland footpath, which is marked with a few arrows painted onto the tree trunks. The path leads you steadily downhill and, towards the bottom, dog-legs right then left to emerge at the roadside (alongside the entrance drive for a house, appropriately called Bushwood).

Taking care of any traffic, turn left along the road to reach a crossroads. Stay with the main road that bends right and leads you between sections of woodland. Continue past the 30mph signs and, immediately afterwards, turn right onto the tarmac access track which passes a property called The Old Place immediately on your left.

The Old Place to Seven Star Junction
The Old Place to Seven Star Junction

Start point: 51.5502 lat, -0.9995 long
End point: 51.5441 lat, -0.9986 long

Follow this tarmac track which leads you past a Quiet Lane sign, designating this track for the use of walkers. Ignore the first bridleway signed off to the right, instead keep straight ahead on the quiet lane, now a stone track leading you steadily uphill through the woodland. Ignore the two footpaths signed off to your left.

The woodland to your left is called Greyhone Wood, and the beautiful beech woodland to your right is called Bear Wood (although don’t worry, the bears left long ago!). At the end of the track, you will come to a junction of seven paths.

Seven Star Junction to Lime Avenue
Seven Star Junction to Lime Avenue

Start point: 51.5441 lat, -0.9986 long
End point: 51.5362 lat, -1.0081 long

Do NOT take the most obvious paths that pass alongside gates and vehicle barriers each side, instead walk ahead for a few paces to pass these, then turn immediately right to join the woodland path signed as a public bridleway. The bridleway leads you steadily uphill with a bank on your right. If you look closely, you will see the bank is made up of the roots of a row of beech trees. This is a typical enclosure bank, used to denote the boundaries of land enclosures and hunting grounds.

The bridleway soon bears left away from this bank, to continue its journey meandering through the woodland. You will reach a waymarker post, marking a junction of bridleways. Turn left here to continue your woodland journey. The Chilterns is one of the most heavily wooded areas in the country, with 21% of the land being woodland, generally dominated by beech trees. The beech wood harvest has played an important role in the area’s economy. As well as being used for firewood and charcoal, The Chilterns used to support a thriving chair-making and furniture-making industry. The beech trees give a magnificent display of fiery leaf colours in the autumn and they are an important habitat for birds such as nuthatches and woodpeckers, as well as deer, squirrels and dormice.

At the end of the bridleway you will reach a vehicle gate ahead. Pass alongside this to reach a junction with a tarmac access drive. Turn left to follow this access drive, leading you past the entrance for Barn Farm on your right. Continue past the next property on your right, Holly Tree Cottage, and then turn immediately right onto the signed bridleway. You will emerge out alongside the entrance drives for Rose Cottage and Old Barn. Keep ahead to reach the road.

Cross diagonally right to take the stone track opposite, signed as a public bridleway. Pass an old brick house on your right then keep ahead to join the path leading you into the woodland. As you reach a fork, take the left-hand branch, staying with the bridleway as it passes a courtyard of properties visible across to your right. You will emerge out to a junction with a tarmac access lane, Lime Avenue (with a bridleway junction fingerpost).

Lime Avenue to Neal's Lane
Lime Avenue to Neal's Lane

Start point: 51.5362 lat, -1.0081 long
End point: 51.5415 lat, -1.0141 long

Turn right to follow the tarmac lane, Lime Avenue, which unsurprisingly is lined with beautiful old lime trees. Avenues of lime trees were the entrance drives of choice for country mansions and we are now following the old entrance drive for Wyfold Court mansion. You can imagine a time when horse-drawn carriages followed this grand avenue on route to lavish balls and dinner parties.

Just before the avenue bears slightly left, look diagonally left for a view of the mansion itself. Wyfold Court was built in the 1870s for Edward Hermon, a wealthy Lancastrian cotton master, MP for Preston and a lavish patron of contemporary artists. The magnificent facade is red brick with ornate blue brick geometric patterning and stone detailing. It includes a corner turreted tower, gargoyles and pinnacles to combine French Gothic style and Scottish Baronial style. In 1932 the mansion was given to the nation and was converted into Borocourt Hospital for patients with learning disabilities. After the hospital was closed, the building was restored and now comprises eleven private homes that make use of the converted library, magistrate's room, billiard room and the one-hundred-foot-long picture and sculpture gallery.

Continue just a few metres further, passing a fenced orchard on your right, to reach a fingerpost and side drive on your right, Baron Way. Turn right onto Baron Way (signed as the public bridleway), passing the estate tennis courts on your right. Continue past Walnut House on your left and, where the drive swings left, go straight ahead to follow the bridleway track into woodland. As you emerge from the trees, keep ahead on the stone track, passing the many buildings of Neal’s Farm on your right. You will come to a crossroads with a small access lane, Neal’s Lane.

Neal's Lane to Main Street
Neal's Lane to Main Street

Start point: 51.5415 lat, -1.0141 long
End point: 51.5509 lat, -1.0169 long

Go straight ahead on the stone track signed as a public bridleway. The track leads you between hedgerows and grass pastures and then enters the next woodland, Busgrove Wood. Follow the track into the woodland, bearing slightly right and soon bearing right again. Immediately after this bend, you will see a waymarker post on your left.

Leave the track at this point and turn left onto the woodland public footpath. Simply follow this woodland footpath, which bears gently right then passes through an enclosure boundary bank to reach the next waymarker post (marking a T-junction with another footpath). Turn left to join this footpath leading you through this next woodland, Common Wood.

At the end of this woodland you will reach a junction with Busgrove Lane. Turn right along the lane, heading north. This lane leads you past a few properties on your left and on to reach the crossroads with Main Street in Stoke Row. (If you glance to the right you will see the Cherry Tree Inn where we began, but before returning we will take a worthwhile detour to visit the village’s unexpected gem).

Main Street to End
Main Street to End

Start point: 51.5509 lat, -1.0169 long
End point: 51.5511 lat, -1.016 long

Turn left along Main Street and then take the first side road on your right, Coxs Lane. Keep ahead for just a few paces and then turn left through the small wooden gate to enter the Cherry Tree Orchard. This orchard is part of a gift to the village from a Maharaja (the story of which we will explore in a moment). The orchard originally contained 101 cherry trees when it was established in 1863.

With your back to the gate, walk diagonally right and this path leads you directly to a small carved wooden elephant sitting on a grass mound. The solid oak elephant is a chainsaw carving, installed to in 2014 to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Maharaja’s gift. Head back on yourself towards the main orchard and then turn right to walk through the length of it. Exit the orchard via the kissing gate on your left and then turn right along the pavement. Pass the tiny octagonal Well Cottage on your right and, immediately afterwards, you will reach the ornate dome sitting over the Maharaja’s Well on your right.

There are several benches here which provide the perfect spot to uncover the full story behind this unexpected but beautiful architectural gem… The story begins with Edward Anderton Reade, the son of a local squire. He spent his entire working life in India. In 1831 he resolved a land dispute in Azamgarh district by building a public well surrounded by mango trees on the contested territory. Reade became Commissioner of Benares, a city on the River Ganges, where he struck up a friendship with the local ruler, the Maharaja of Benares, Ishree Pershad Naryan Singh. During this friendship, Reade shared stories with the Maharaja of the plight of the poor living in the Chilterns back home, where there was very limited access to clean water. 1857 saw the onset of the Indian Mutiny but the Maharaja remained loyal to the British throughout the rebellion. Some years later, the Maharaja decided on an endowment to help water supply in the Chilterns, a reciprocal gesture for the public well created by Reade in Azamgarh. The result was this ornate public well along with the adjacent cottage (used to house the well’s warden) and the cherry orchard. The well was opened in 1864 and supplied the local community until about 1939. It is 368 feet (about 112 metres) deep (that’s twice the height of Nelson’s Column) and was able to provide around 600 gallons (more than 2,500 litres) of drinking water every day. Tap the Listen button below (App only) to hear more about the well’s design…

When you have finished at the well, exit the site and turn left along the pavement. Follow this directly back to The Cherry Tree Inn for some well-earned hospitality.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


1 Comments for: "The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trail"

A thoroughly enjoyable amble through beautiful countryside including beautiful woodlands. Highly recommended.

By AndyMcD0nald on 22 Aug 2018

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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11015_0Richard1529568047 The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trail Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 21 Jun 2018
The Old Place turning into the Quiet Lane
11015_1Richard1529568047 The Cherry Tree Inn’s Woodland and Well Trail Image by: Richard
Uploaded: 21 Jun 2018
The Maharaja’s Well - it's worth a visit.

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