Oxford is a lovely city which I definitely recommend for a weekend break and whilst here a few times over the summer I’ve stayed in some of the neighbourhoods surrounding, which are worth a visit too. Cowley is a young and vibrant neighbourhood with lots of bars and restaurants and Iffley is a quiet relaxed place just next to Cowley and yet so different in feel.
I also had a trip out to the Vale of the White Horse, a lovely spot for a walk. From the summit you can see forever and the landscape is vastly different from my home in the Pennines with its wild moors; here it is neatly managed farmland and collections of little villages.
Making the most of the gorgeous sunshine on Saturday we headed off to Barbury Castle for a circular walk along the Ridgeway National Trail.
I’ll have to admit that, as a northern lass who lives within spitting distance of the Peak District and the Pennine Way, the Ridgeway wasn’t exactly awe inspiring. But, having woken that morning in the busy and built up Reading, it was certainly lovely to escape to the countryside. Even if you could see Swindon and the M4 from the top of the hill. (And yes, I concede it was a hill, even by northern standards I was going to let Barbury Castle be on a hill).
We had a quick potter around the castle, which is really an Iron Age hillfort, before heading off eastwards along the Ridgeway.
For those of you like me, who know nothing of the Ridgeway and its importance – it is recognised as Britain’s oldest road following a route used since prehistoric times. Established as a National Trail in 1972 the route extends from Avebury in Wiltshire to finish 87 miles later at Ivinghoe Beacon in Buckinghamshire.
So to make the most of the route we took in the section from Barbury Castle to Ogbourne St George, before turning south off the Ridgeway and heading to Ogbourne St Andrew and then heading back north to our start – the entire circle being about 7 miles long. So a nice couple of hours in the sunshine.
Afterwards we headed to Avebury to see one of the largest prehistoric stone circles in Europe and certainly the largest in the UK. The site is impressive with a large outer stone circle and two inner stone circles. Unfortunately many of the original stone have been replaced by concrete pillars indicating their location.