Oxfordshire and The Ridgeway
On April Fool’s Day 2022 - a Friday - three of us (Brian, Dave and Lynne) set out to visit the White Horse Hill in Oxfordshire. It was nice enough but the best view seemed to be from the road. On to Wantage where Eileen, Marian and Val joined us to stay for the weekend at the Court Hill Centre.
The Centre was a lovely looking place and the host was welcoming. We had the place to ourselves after the tearoom closed, apart from some DOE’ers (Duke of Edinburgh Award entrants) who were camping (and freezing at night). The kitchen, showers and toilets were only for us and we ate in the tearoom. Strangely, we all stayed at one table and left the vast expanse of the tearoom untouched. Driving out to Wantage for an evening meal Brian managed to forget that Lynne was a passenger but Eileen rescued her. The 'House of Spice' was selected and immediately Val had an argument with the waiter. The rest of us carefully examined our meals after that.
On Saturday we set off on the Ridgeway Trail – see the photo of us at the start. It was warm and clothes were soon removed. The clothes were replaced when snow started to fall! The trail is on chalk which is very slippery when damp and also clings to your shoes. Passing several DOE’ers and cyclists we reached the White Horse (again, for three of us). This time we found better angles to see the horse but it was spoilt by a family whose four children were playing on the horse and throwing the chalk everywhere. A word from Marian soon stopped that. We had left Brian’s car at the National trust car park and climbed in for the journey back.
On Sunday we did a circular walk around Longcot and Uffington. We had an interesting stop at the church of St Mary the Virgin, Longcot which had only opened today after a £186,000 upgrade. The walk was across several open flat fields and underneath the busy Great Western Railway line. Lunch was at the Fox and Hounds in Uffington, near to a cottage with a blue plaque in memory of John Betjeman. The weather now became distinctly cold and the stiles became progressively tougher as we walked back across more open flat fields. There was no stile at the end, merely some fence rails which we clambered over with difficulty. This evening we ate in Wildwood’s in Wantage. It was virtually empty, which apparently is the norm for Sunday night in Wantage.
On Monday we toured Wantage, finding a delightful museum and the John Betjeman Millennium Park. After a pleasant couple of hours we left to go to Basildon Park, a National Trust property near Reading. Once again the café service was slow, which now seems to be the norm for NT cafes. It is the coffees that slow things down. The place itself was nice, although covid had restricted the amount we could see. The gardens were just coming out for Spring and will look lovely in a month.
Then it was off to the M4 and home.
Brian U. 6th April 2022