A group of eleven set off today. We had two teachers on half term and two German Guests staying with a walker family in the village this week. We followed the path down through the tunnel into the open fields. After all the rain the lower end of the field was quite muddy and the undergrowth was still very wet. It was still very cloudy but there was no rain. We crossed two meadows, the second populated with sheep and were able to admire the view of the Park House through the mist. We followed Wharf Lane down to the canal at Souldern Wharf, noting a pair of buzzards on the way. Two long boats cruised by enjoying the tranquillity of the landscape and many more were moored on both sides as we neared the Great Western. We left the tow path and once under the railway bridge we took the footpath from Station Road towards Souldern Mill. We worked round the ford and came back to the village via Millers Lane and Station Road. We were surprised to be passed by two cars on the farm track down to the ford at Souldern Mill. One of them had earlier passed us as it emerged from the track and stream under the Motorway. Back at the pavilion the usual coffee and cake or lunch awaited us, and as usual it was eagerly welcomed.
We headed out towards Souldern via the footpath opposite Portway. The ground was fairly dry under foot considering the amount of rain that had fallen during the night. Going across the second field we could see the bullocks at the top of the field by the farm house but were then distracted by a shrew making its way through the long grass. They need to feed both day and night because of their high metabolic rate but it is still quite rare to see one. We passed the church and turned left at the cross roads before turning right along the back road to Fritwell. Part way along here we turned right down a footpath which was a little overgrown and bordered with cow parsley growing to waist height, well waist height on us shorter walkers! It was still covered in raindrops from the night so that we reached the back of the houses in Souldern more than a little damp! We stopped for a chat with a lady busily trying to keep the weeds at bay in her garden, followed the quiet back road round until we came to the main street and went on down towards the mill. Before reaching the mill we turned off the track and yes again we had to make our way through the cow parsley (we had just dried out a little), and along the side of the fields to Lower Aynho Grounds. From here we could almost smell the coffee which spurred us on up the final hill to Aynho and much needed refreshments at the pavilion. An enjoyable walk and although showers were forecast we completed the 5 miles in the dry.
The warm sunshine brought back many regulars and we welcomed a new walker, Lida and her Jack Russell. Fourteen of us set off through Green Lane and Rainsborough Camp. Along the ridge to the camp we saw two deer charge off through the crop. Skylarks were singing all along the route. We reached Croughton and passed the school before crossing the road and taking the track that leads via a grazing field to the churchyard. As always we checked that the television still rests in the trunk of the hollow tree before heading back via the green and the ford to Warren Farm, freshly mown for silage and into the woods of Upper Aynho Grounds. We had prior permission to walk round by the lakes and were amazed to see, on the path between the two bridges, a swan sitting on its large nest. The bridge was fenced off with wire netting so that no one disturbed the swan but it was a spectacular sight. We continued on the far side of the lake and rounded it at the end. There was much going on in A Day in the Country. We saw and heard a variety of activities including some loud shooting. We crossed the B4100 with care and returned to the pavilion via Portway, glad of a drink and a good lunch for those who had ordered it. Altogether 6.5 miles in 2 hrs 10 mins. A very enjoyable walk.
Three women, two men and two dogs braved the rain this morning and equipped with various shades of umbrella, hooded jackets, waterproof trousers and wellington boots set off down to Millers Lane and up to Souldern village. The ford was too deep and fast flowing to cross so we took the field route round and over the little footbridge. Round the back of Souldern we followed the road and took the track past the richly ornamented blue garden and up to Nancy Bowles Wood. No walkers or picnics there today. We branched off on the footpath over Foxhill. The waist high cow parsley brushed us with water soaking our legs and washing our wellingtons. By now the rain had eased off and we followed the Fritwell Road back into Souldern and down past the church. Once back in the parish we found the sheep usually grazing in Mr Belcher’s field had been replaced by a herd of very inquisitive heifers. The two border terriers on their short leads returned the fascination. Back at the pavilion the usual coffee and cakes or a more substantial lunch were particularly welcome. It was the first time in over two years of the walks that we had had rain from start to finish.
We welcomed two local walkers who moved up to our long walk group today. This brought our total for the walk to eleven. It was overcast and drizzly and as we walked down Green Lane the low cloud blotted out the usually lovely views. The Lane was less muddy than last week until we got to the end and turned right along the lower track towards Charlton. The tractor was driving back and forth along the lane carrying full bags of fertiliser in one direction and returning with the empties. This and the group of horse riders churned up the track underfoot. We continued into the field where the track turned sharp left and soon crossed the stream and followed it until the bridge and short steep climb across a meadow. This took us onto the Lane through to Charlton Village. From there we followed the road down the hill and took the footpath through to Rainsborough Camp and from there along the ridge and back for coffee and cake or something more substantial. The walk was about four and a half miles, a little shorter than usual but enjoyed by all.
Ian provided a remarkably varied programme with very interesting and instructive comment. The session included Elgar’s “Chanson de Matin” Brahms’s “Piano Trio” Weber’s “Clarinet Concerto” and the Treorchy Male Voice Choir. After the interval, Bizet’s “Pearl Fishers” again sung by the Treorchy choir, was followed by the Vivaldi “Guitar Concerto” and “La Boheme” sung by Jussi Bjorling and Vittoria de Los Angeles.
Altogether a delightful programme.