This walk is a circular walk around Oakley wood that takes you directly to the site of the Oakley Wood ‘fort’, meanders down to the bottom of the wood and then returns along the beautiful perimeter of the wood and Ashorne Park. The fort is not dramatic, the deepest ditches are ~12ft deep, but it’s interesting how a site that may have been occupied since the iron age can remain hidden. There has been some debate on whether the site is a fort or a medieval technique of land management. I prefer the fort argument. Currently the bluebells look great and attract a range of butterflies as shown in the photo above.
This walk offers a slightly different route to Oakley Wood from BT which cuts out a little of the Oakley Wood Road walk and you enter the wood close to the fort. Be careful crossing the Banbury Road especially as the roads appear to be getting busier. Note: after periods of heavy rain some paths especially the path running parallel to the Banbury Rd gets boggy, wear good boots or cut into the woods and find a drier path.
The map shows the route labelled in red 1 to 14. Camera signs correspond to the attached photos that give a taster of the walk and show which gates and signs to follow.
- Start the walk on Holt Avenue (off Mallory Rd), at the end of the avenue turn right through the new gate (A)
2. A short walk brings you to a high point with Oakley Meadows houses on your left and a good panorama of the local countryside. Walk parallel to the houses down to the gate that leads you on a path that runs alongside Oakley Wood Road
3. Go through the gate and carefully proceed along the verge to the motorway bridge.
4. The footpath is on the left hand side on the opposite side of the bridge, adjacent to the house on the bend. Choose a safe place to cross and go through the gates, and across the field which has a clear route to the Banbury Road. Note the first gate gives a little on its hinges so it needs to be lifted back into place.
5. At the Banbury Road walk 10 yards to your left just past the sign indicating the route to Morton Morrell. On the opposite side of the road are two gates, pictured below from inside the wood . Carefully cross over the road. The gates can be navigated by a very gentle squeeze through the gap at each post as marked in the picture. Please do not climb or try and open the gates.
6. I will try and describe the route we took through the wood but of course one of the beauties of the wood is just to see where paths take you. This route into the woods places you very close to the fort, the aim is to get to the far south west of the wood by the Wellesbourne Road exit. If you get lost see if the trees can guide you using the property that moss points north as a guide! This tree clearly followed the rule.
Follow the main wide path down for a couple of hundred yards, take the third turning you pass on the left, this is close to a notice board and is a relatively narrow path. The path branches, take the path on the left as this follows the line of the fort trench.
7. When you reach the wider path turn right and walk down for ~200 yards, this is following the line of the fort that is on your right. The fort trenches are not dramatic but can be up to 12 ft deep, a lot of work to dig!
8. Turn right at the next junction and follow the path for 200 yards, again the fort is on your right. The birds sound fantastic, Friends of Oakley Wood have just posted a great recording of the dawn chorus in the woods
9. At the next junction take the first left, a wide track taking you to the exit near the Wellesbourne Road. The woodland gets slightly more open with the majority of trees being pines.
10. You will reach the exit of the wood, pass through the gate and turn left and follow the outer perimeter of the wood, effectively completely turning back on yourself, turn left before the track to Ashorne farm. Images in the slide show below
11. Follow the perimeter of the wood keeping it on your left, after ~1/2 mile you reach a gate that takes you into Ashorne Park
Carry on with the wood to your left, Ashorne Park is a lovely managed open space with some great trees
12. Exit the park through the gate that leads onto the Morton Morrell road, turn immediately left back into Oakley Wood. In the wood take the first major track to the right
13. After a few hundred yards you come back to where you entered the wood by the double gates, retrace your steps, with care crossing the Banbury Road.
14. Carefully exit onto the verge on the Oakley Wood Road, turn right and cross over to enter the path that takes you back to Holt Avenue.