Monday, 8 September 2014

d'Arcy Dalton Way - Day 3

I had a really good night's sleep, waking only once in the early hours to hear a fox barking nearby and then moving away. I was away by 7am, stopping for breakfast an hour or so later just before reaching Hook Norton. Definitely on home ground around here. The Way passed through the village, through some allotments and then up a hillside to pass through Fanville Farm and across fields to Great Rollright, along a wide ridge path where I stopped for elevenses not far from the Rollright Stones and then through the tiny settlement of Little Rollright, now only a church, a manor house and a couple of cottages.

Leafy avenue at Brighthill Farm
Little Rollright
Little Rollright
I walked on to Salford and then home by lunchtime. Mission accomplished. The rest of the d'Arcy Dalton Way, about forty miles, will wait for another time. Around 9 miles walked.

This weekend, I took with me an Omron III pedometer which I bought recently having been reading that, to keep healthy and active, I must walk at least 10,000 steps a day. So, the weekend's step count was Friday 17,086, Saturday 51,607 and today 24695.

d'Arcy Dalton Way - Day 2

A very quiet night. I wasn't far from the main Banbury to Birmingham railway line but it didn't disturb my sleep. Awake at around 5.30, I was away by 6.20, continuing along the canal towpath through Cropredy and then, after a couple of hours, reaching Bridge 139 at Wormleighton Reservoir. Here, there was a footpath sign for the DDW so up I went. I had a quick look across the reservoir, took a few photos for the record and then set off southwards.

Old bridge - Bedford to Stratford-upon-Avon Railway
Here's where it starts

Wormleighton Reservoir
All set!

After the first couple of hundred yards, I had to cross the railway. This is one to be really careful over. It is a fast and busy line - two tracks. It was pleasant walking through grassy fields, then through the village of Farnborough and then the National Trust's Farnborough Park. I picked up supplies of crisps and chocolate at the little shop at Anita's camping and caravan park at Mollington - a very friendly place. They directed me to their water tap.

Couldn't resist this - a moving ad for an artificial grass company
In Mollington
Emerging from the village and entering fields, I very soon became aware of the traffic noise from the M40. I walked parallel to it for about half a mile, with the carriageway being no more than fifty feet away. However, here was a treat - a wild plum tree with fruit there for the taking - which I did. At other times all through the weekend, there were also blackberries and elderberries. I then crossed the M40 by means of a footbridge.

Then through Shotteswell, across the B4100 road, eventually reaching Hornton, where I went into the Dun Cow for a pint. The pub was deserted, this seeming to be another case of locals not using their pub enough. I read that Liverpool Cathedral was built using Hornton Stone although it is now quarried at nearby Edge Hill. The stone is a deep honey colour and I prefer the look of it to Cotswold Stone.

 I just continued to walk and walk. The weather was pretty perfect. I passed through Shenington and Epwell, stopping near the junction with the B4035 around 6pm to cook up a meal before walking on. The Way took me through the grounds of Sibford School in the village of Sibford Ferris. Here, I espied a water hose and took the opportunity to fill up my water belt which then left me equipped to find a pitch for the night whenever I wanted. At 7.45pm I was ambling along musing that, at that exact point in time, with it going to start getting dark shortly, I hadn't a clue where I would be spending the night. For me, that is one of the joys of wild camping. Shortly after passing Sibford Grounds Farm and dropping down through woodland, I skirted by a field of corn on the cob (so much of it growing around here) where the path entered more woodland. By going on a few yards along the field edge and then around a corner, I found an excellent pitch. I set up and it was getting dark about twenty minutes later.

About 18 miles walked today.

Sunday, 7 September 2014

d'Arcy Dalton Way - Day 1

The DDW is one of the closest long distance paths close to where I live. I was given the book of it some years ago. I've done odd bits of it as it coincides with other local walks here and there and when driving around this area, there are numerous footpath signs bearing its name. It weaves about all over the place. The DDW starts at Wormleighton Reservoir north of Banbury on the Oxford Canal and ends at Wayland's Smithy, which is the starting point of the Ridgeway. It is 65 miles long. My plan for this weekend was to do the section from the start to its closest point to home.

To do this, I was driven up to Banbury and abandoned near the Southam Road where I dropped down to the Oxford Canal. To reach the start of the DDW, I had to walk for eight miles up the canal towpath to bridge 139. There is no immediate vehicle access, although it would be possible to drive to within half a mile or so of the start, walk to the reservoir and then back again, and then continue the walk. The canal towpath was good walking, passing by a couple of stretches of permanent moorings. They are real little communities. Of course, there were also numerous holiday boats, all of which had moored for the night.

Oxford Canal
I walked from 6.10pm to around 7.30pm as light began to fade. Canals aren't easy for wild camping. The land on either side is, more often than not, impossible to get to due to impenetrable hedges. Locks are often good, though, particularly the side opposite the towpath. It is easy to get across the lock over the gates at either end. Slat Mill Lock was a good resting place. I recognised the nearby farmhouse (Peewit Farm) as being the venue for a festival I was at a few weeks ago.

Slat Mill Lock