The ‘Needs to Know’
Distance: 12.5 miles (20.12km)
Time to walk: Roughly 4.5 hours, but Sarah & Ann did this section of the walk in pouring rain for much of its duration on 27th July 2020
Difficulty: Mainly off road on canal paths & fields
Parking: As this is a linear walk, Sarah & Ann left a car in both Banbury & Chipping Warden
Public toilets: Village pubs etc en route. As you’ll see they were very glad to see the teashop in Middleton Cheney!
Map of Section 1:
The Jurassic Way path starts on the Oxford Canal, right behind the shopping centre in the middle of Banbury
Banbury is a historic market town in Oxfordshire situated 64 miles northwest of London, & 22 miles north west of Oxford. The name Banbury derives from “Banna”, a Saxon chieftain said to have built a stockade there in the 6th century (or Ban(n)a possibly a byname meaning ‘felon’, ‘murderer’), & “burgh” meaning settlement
Banbury played an important part in the English Civil War as a base of operations for Oliver Cromwell, who is reputed to have planned the Battle of Edge Hill in the back room (which can still be visited) of a local inn, the Reindeer Inn as it was then known (today’s Ye Olde Reine Deer Inn)
The name Banbury has probably been in most children’s memories since an early age from the Nursery Rhyme “Ride a Cock Horse to Banbury Cross”. The cross still stands proud today…
Right then…Let’s Walk!
1. The ladies began their walk right behind the Banbury shopping centre. They exited the centre on the canal side, cross over the canal & head to the right. A little way along the canal you’ll see your first footpath sign for the Jurassic Walk…
On this section of the walk it’s not signposted particularly well so it may help to bring an OS Map, or use “Googlemaps”
2. The walk now follows the canal until you reach bridge No. 172. If you forget which number bridge you’re at, like them, it’s worth remembering that the bridge is the last one before it passes under the M40
I love this canal
3. Below is Bridge 172 where the path leaves the canal to the left, (north-east) heading towards the Cherwell river (stream)
Eventually you’ll cross under the M40, but first you aim for a bridge going over the stream. You should be able to see the bridge ahead of you. Once over the little bridge turn right and follow the river until you go under the M40
4. After passing underneath the M40 turn left & cross the fields over a railway bridge, passing some farm buildings on your left…love those piglets!!
5. You’ll pass through a gate at the farm & a track takes you up to a minor road. There’s a sign here for the Jurassic Way telling you to head right
Go down the road until you come to junction where you turn left into the village of Warkworth
Opposite Manor Farm there is a path which takes you to Overthorpe. They passed a lovely church to our right in the distance
6. The path now takes you past some new houses with high fences! You don’t get to see much, but there is some shelter from the rain from the trees
At the end of the path turn right & head across fields towards Middleton Cheney. You cross the A422 & then head straight into the village
Aim for the Church, but just before you get to it there’s is a café on the right-hand side. Cappuccino & a slice of orange cake perked our ladies up & allowed then to dry out. The path continued in Church Lane
7. I’ve visited Middleton Cheney many times & it’s a beautiful village. Traces of Neolithic, Bronze Age & Roman settlements have been found in the parish
There’s an initial Jurassic Way signpost as you leave the village, but then there’s a significant absence & the ladies took a few wrong turns. As you leave the village, keep it behind you & head straight up the hill & over the fields. There are footpath signs, but they’re not the Jurassic way – so ignore them
Continue straight ahead until you cross the B4525 & then keep going. Now, at this point the ladies lost the path completely & are still not sure where it went. At the top of the hill you can make out Chacombe below you – this is what you are aiming for
The Jurassic Way runs through a wood, but they managed to follow a different path down & into Chacombe
8. In the mid 11th century reign of Edward the Confessor, a certain Bardi held the Manor of Chacombe “freely” (i.e. without a feudal overlord). However, the Domesday Book records that after the Norman Conquest one Godfrey held the manor of Cewecumbe of Remigus de Fecamp, Bishop of Lincoln. This had four hides of arable land, nine acres of meadow and three watermills. In the 12th century the manor was still assessed as four hides& still held from the Bishop of Lincoln
The Manor House has been demolished. It was on the north-west side of the village, just east of the parish church, in what is now Berry Field
Looking at the map they thought they may have passed Chacombe House but it’s actually the site of the Priory
Hugh of Chalcombe, Lord of the Manor, founded the Augustinian Priory in the reign of Henry II. It was just west of the present village
In 1536 the Priory was suppressed in the Dissolution of the Monasteries & passed all its properties to The Crown. The only visible remains of it are a small chapel apparently built in the 13th century & a set of medieval fishponds, although at least three medieval stone coffin slabs, one from the 13th century, have been found in the priory grounds
Part of the priory site is now occupied by a house, also called Chacombe Priory (seen in the picture above)
9. With Chacombe Priory on your left, head into the village. Walk through the village & up to the George & Dragon pub turning left into Silver Street.
The path is well signed from here, thank goodness. You have a lovely view of the church to your left as you leave the village
8. Now pass through an old railway tunnel & up & over lots of fields to the villages of Upper Wardington & Wardington
Between Wardington & Upper Wardington is Wardington Manor which dates from the middle of the 16th century or possibly earlier. The house was remodelled in 1665 & twice early in the 20th century. From 1917 Wardington Manor was the seat of Baron Wardington. In 2004 the house was severely damaged by fire but it has since been restored
9. This was a lovely part of the walk & easy to find the signs. The path does a funny little loop round the villages before it leaves Upper Wardington towards Edgcote
If you have time try & visit the stunning Edgcote House, an 18th century country house built of local ironstone. In 1543 the Edgcote estate, which had previously belonged to Anne of Cleves, was bought from the Crown by William Chauncy, MP for Northamptonshire & the High Sheriff of Northamptonshire
The 1700 acre park was laid out in the 18th century & features a lake fed by the River Cherwell & the remains of a Roman villa. The house is heated by heat energy extracted from the lake
The BBC used the house in its 1995 television adaptation of Jane Austen’s ‘Pride & Prejudice’
As you leave Edgecote you need to take the second path towards Chipping Warden (by the church). The ladies took the first!
It was very pretty & they saw some beautiful houses as a result
As you enter Chipping Warden there’s an information board relating to the Civil War & War of the Roses battles fought in this area
It’s an extremely important area in the Civil War. Around here the Battle of Edgecote Moor 1469 – (War of Roses). Battle of Edgehill 1642 & Battle of Cropredy Bridge 1644 (First Civil War) were all fought
So that’s the end of Sarah & Ann’s first Section. Let’s see where Section 2 takes them!