TOP 5 WINTER WALKS

Local Guide

Walking In A Winter Wonderland

Winter is the perfect time to wrap up warm, go for an invigorating walk and blow away the cobwebs. You’re spoilt for rambling routes in the scenic areas surrounding Bicester Village, made all the more enchanting by the seasonal veil of twinkling frost and wisps of wood smoke in the air. Read on to discover our top five local walking trails, crossing a host of terrain from chalk hills to riverside paths, ancient woods and landscaped gardens.

1. Blenheim Palace Parkland,  Oxfordshire

Distance: 7 miles

Minimum time: 3 hours

Level of difficulty: Easy

Blenheim Palace is a World Heritage Site and the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill. Set amid more than 2,000 acres of landscaped parkland and formal gardens by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown, you can enjoy striking views and an abundance of wildlife across several walks, with dogs on leads welcome in the park. Landmarks of interest among Blenheim Palace’s Estate include the water terraces, an arboretum, the Great Lake with Grand Bridge, as well as the Column of Victory – built to commemorate the heroic efforts of the 1st Duke of Marlborough on the battlefield. Those seeking refreshments en route can enjoy lunch or afternoon tea at Blenheim Palace, or visit the local town of Woodstock.

Click here for a detailed walking route.

2. Gleaming Spires, Oxford to Abingdon

Distance: 10 miles

Minimum time: 4 hours

Level of difficulty: Easy

Discover inspiring Oxford before exploring the city’s more rural surroundings with a trail following three historic locks along the River Thames, ideal for those favouring views of the water. Iffley Lock, the starting point of various Oxfordshire regattas, was originally constructed in 1632 and underwent a rebuild in 1924. Pause for a moment to admire the pretty riverside Norman church and stone block bridge adorned with a bronze bull’s head. Sandford Lock, situated in the quiet village of Sandford-on-Thames, is famed for boasting the largest fall of water from its weir. Further downstream at Abingdon Lock stands the picturesque Abingdon Bridge, originally built in 1422 with 14 arches. Abingdon is one of the most important historic towns on the River Thames, with a splendid town hall and abbey founded as early as 675AD. Refuel along the path just before Iffley Lock, or enjoy traditional British cuisine in the relaxed atmosphere of the Kings Arms at Sandford Lock.

Click here for a detailed walking route.

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3. Brunel’s Bridge, Maidenhead to Windsor Thames

Distance: 8 miles

Minimum time: 4 hours

Level of difficulty: Easy

A treat for those who enjoy riverside strolls, this route takes in views so beautiful they inspired a Turner masterpiece. The walking trail passes under the Maidenhead Railway Bridge, an iconic landmark that appears in the artist’s Rail, Steam & Speed – The Great Western Railway painting displayed in the National Gallery. The Victorian viaduct, famed for the spectacular echo of its right-hand arch under which the Thames towpath runs, is often referred to as the Sounding Arch. At the time of building in 1838, the arches were the widest and flattest in the world owing there ingenuity to one of the most well respected British mechanical and civil engineers Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The walk concludes in Windsor, offering a host of refreshment options overlooking Windsor Castle, the oldest and largest occupied castle in the world.

Click here for a detailed walking route.

4. Uffington Down and White Horse Hill, Oxfordshire

Distance: 7.7 miles

Minimum time: 45 minutes

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Set along rolling downland home to an enigmatic chalk figure in the shape of a Bronze Age horse, this legendary walking route has an air of mystery. With no known explanation behind the creation of the '360 foot long' Uffington White Horse, the landscape is guaranteed to inspire your imagination as you ramble. Other notable landmarks include ancient hill top fort Uffington Castle and Dragon Hill, a large circular flat-topped mound where Saint George is said to have slain his dragon. Close by you’ll encounter a dramatic dry valley known as The Manger, famed as one of the most spectacular geological features along the Ridgeway. Thought to have been formed by melting ice in the last Ice Age, The Manger features steep rippled sides known locally as Giant’s Steps. Legend has it that The Manger is where the White Horse grazes at night. Home to varied flora and fauna including Adonis Blue, Marbled White and Chalkhill Blue butterflies, the trail is perfect for British wildlife enthusiasts.

Click here for a detailed walking route.

5. Through the Chilterns, Henley via Stonor Circular

Distance: 8.8 miles

Minimum time: 7 hours

Level of difficulty: Moderate

Starting in Henley-on-Thames, the oldest settlement in Oxfordshire known for its annual regatta, this charming route along the southern edge of the Chiltern Hills features country lanes, hidden valleys, farmland, ancient woods and grassy slopes. The trail offers a sweeping view of Stonor Park, a magnificent stately home boasting Tudor features, a deer park and Georgian remodelling that has been the continuous residence of the Stonor family for 850 years. Just before Valley End Farm in Bix Bottom you’ll discover an abandoned church that has the appearance of an ancient ruin. Formerly the Church of St James, the medieval building fell into disuse in 1875. Serving home-cooked food, The Rainbow Inn in Middle Assendon is a cosy retreat for ramblers weary from the undulating landscape. Alternatively, the hill before Middle Assendon provides a fine picnic spot with a breathtaking panoramic view up the valley towards Stonor.

Click here for a detailed walking route.

 

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