Walk 9 – Grand Ring – 6½ miles

This walk, as do all the described walks, commences at St Andrews church South Stoke. There is parking on The Street outside the church.

Safety: Take care when walking on roads and in particular when crossing the A4074, always obey the Highway Code.

Proceed north along The Street towards Ferry Road, at the road junction turn right (east) into Ferry Road and proceed under the railway bridge and up to the crossroads with the B4009. Taking care crossing the B4009, continue straight on into Woodcote Road and at the brow of the hill turn onto the footpath that is signposted on your left, this is Postman’s Path.

Follow the path across the field, looking out for skylarks and partridges, until you reach the first stile, which is a good place to take a rest and enjoy the views of the valley. To the north on a clear day you can just make out the outskirts of Oxford, Wittenham Clumps and to the south the North Downs.

Continue to follow the path straight on across the next field towards Cameron’s Copse; at the next stile you will join the bridleway with Cameron’s Copse directly in front of you. The copse was built in memory of a well-respected local veterinary surgeon; a stone commemorating the event can be seen.

Turn right (east) onto the bridleway and continue for about ¼ miles until two paths cross and turn left onto the footpath heading north across a field. This is the Icknield Way. Follow this path until it meets the A4074. Taking great care, cross the A4074 and continue on the path as it crosses another field. After a short while the path meets the road leading to Ipsden village, next to Layend Pond, normally dry. Cross the road and continue on the Icknield Way for about ½ miles, passing Larkstoke Stud on your left, until it reaches a road. You will be able to see St Mary’s Church in the distance to your right. Listen out for the sound of Peacocks.

Turn left here onto the road and leaving the Icknield way, continue until you reach the crossroads with the A4074. Taking great care, cross the A4074 and proceed west towards North Stoke on White House Road until you reach the cross roads with the B4009. Turn right (north) here and follow the pavement for about 100 yds until you are opposite a footpath between two houses called “Tinkers Dale” and “Lake Cottage”. Cross the B4009 with care and continue on this path, passing the Springs lake on your right, until you reach the junction with The Street, opposite North Stoke village hall. Turn left (south) into The Street. You are now on the Ridgeway path. After a short while, turn right into Church Lane. On reaching the entrance to the churchyard (where there is a seat if you need a rest) follow the path as it passes through the churchyard, passing the church to the right, and exit by the swing gate. North Stoke church, built about 1237 is noted for its wall paintings and the Mass dial over the south door.

Follow the path through numerous swing gates for about ¾ miles until you reach Little Stoke House. Turn right towards the river and then, by the old boathouse, almost immediately left (south), otherwise you will get wet feet!

The path now follows the river bank for about 1¼ miles, passing under the Four Arches, towards South Stoke. Take time to look at the architecture of the bridges the engineer being Isambard Kingdom Brunel.

The path meets the end of Ferry lane by the boat slipway, and with the Beetle and Wedge Hotel on the opposite bank. Turn left (east) here and at the top turn right (south) and continue until the junction with Ferry Road and The Street. Continue south on The Street until you reach St Andrew’s church on the left. This is the end of the walk. The Perch and Pike beckons, so have a well earned pint!