Friday, 6 May 2016

Explore the Lower Windrush Valley - A circular walk to try this summer

In 2015, two new footpaths were opened by Smiths Bletchington as part of the Gill Mill quarry development: The Down Valley Way and Northern Cross Valley Way. These new paths, combined with a section of the Windrush Path and exisiting Rights of Way, create a circular route linking Ducklington, Rushy Common Nature Reserve and Hardwick.

I chose a sunny spring morning to explore the route, starting from the Car Park at Rushy Common Nature Reserve.

The route

Turn left out of the Rushy Common car park, walk along the road roughly 100 metres and you will find an entrance to the Down Valley Way. (Point 1 on the map)

Immediately through the gate you can see the current quarry workings on the left.
Gill Mill is one of Oxfordshire’s largest quarries. Extraction will be continuing for many years and new lakes, and sites for recreation and nature conservation will be created in the process.

Continue along the footpath…If you’re walking in Spring, keep your eyes peeled for Cowslips!

You reach a gate at the end of the footpath, turn left and you will be on the Northern Cross Valley Way. (Point 2 on the map)

Continue to walk along the Northern Cross Valley Way…

You will cross the East Arm of the River Windrush
As you near Ducklington you will reach a crossroads. Turn left and walk down the Windrush Path. (Point 3 on the map)
Follow the Windrush Path along the edges of the River Windrush…
As you approach Hardwick, there's a kissing gate. Go through the gate and take the footpath across the field. (Point 4 on the map)

You follow the footpath around Founders Lake and then Brasenose Two Lake

The path then crosses the East Arm of the River Windrush and takes you towards Tar Lakes.
Tar Lakes consists of multiple lakes and ponds created as part of the restoration work that occurred after gravel extraction.
Catch a glance of Rushy Common Nature Reserve through the viewing gaps along the footpath back to the car park.

This route is around 5 miles and you should allow 2 – 2.5 hours to complete it.