A choice of rambles around the Astons and Heyfords where the Oxford Canal runs alongside the river Cherwell.
Cherwell Valley Walk leaflet front coverThe Cherwell Valley South walk is a 7 mile rural route taking in Steeple Aston and a scenic stretch of the canal. It begins at Heyford station so you can get to it by train. The Heyfords walk also starts at the station and is a 3 mile route around Lower and Upper Heyford. The Cherwell Valley North walk is 5.5 miles and takes in the delightful village of North Aston. The accessibility of the Cherwell Valley walks was improved in 2010 through the replacement of all stiles with gates and some resurfacing works.
Route advice and text amendments
***WARNING (May 2014)*** The Causeway across the River Cherwell, which forms part of the Cherwell Valley North and Cherwell Valley South routes, has several deep potholes as a result of the winter flooding. It is currently open to pedestrians and cyclists but not to horse riders. Please take great care when using this route.
***October 2014 - The bridge on the alternative route has now been replaced by Oxfordshire County Council and so the route is accessible once again
Flooding: during winter months, certain sections of the valley bottom tend to flood so please turn back if conditions are too wet.
Canal towpath: please take care along the towpath as it is badly eroded and, therefore, very narrow in places.
Roads: please take care when the routes are on roads as these are usually busy and narrow, making traffic difficult to see.
Livestock: much of the North and South routes is across grazing land so if you bring your dog with you, keep it under close control and on a lead through stocked fields. However, current advice recommends you should not walk between a cow and her calf and, if you are threatened by cattle, you should let the dog off the lead.
Cherwell Valley South
15 The first stretch of towpath after the Causeway is very eroded in a number of places.
1-2 Please take care along the canal as the bank is eroding in places which is narrowing the towpath; and some of the branches from the willow trees along the adjacent river bank are beginning to encroach on the towpath.
5 Text should read "Continue to Upper Heyford water treatment works, pass through a gate and then turn left just before the works gates to walk along the field edge".
Cherwell Valley North
1 This stretch between North Aston and the left turn to Grange Farm is approx ¾ mile (just over 1km).
3 As there is a footpath turning right off the main route just before the farmhouse, the text should read "Adjacent to the farmhouse, bear right onto track and pass through two gates (one gate is often not noticed as it is completely open)".
4 This stretch can be very wet and muddy.
5 The towpath is particularly narrow, awkward and overgrown through the two gates along the first stretch so take care. You can walk further into the field along this stretch if the towpath is too difficult to follow. It is just over one mile (approx 1.7 km) to Somerton.
7 As the route is a little confusing at this point, the following text change should help -
"Turn right off the road through a fieldgate. Bear right and walk alongside fencing. Continue around field corner, passing two metal fieldgates to your right, and walk along field edge (hedge to your right). Pass through three sets of fieldgates - the first is wooden, the second is grey metal and the third is black metal. Please be aware that there could also be temporary fencing/gates in place during different seasons. Look over to your right along this stretch and see Bestmoor, a valuable wildlife site.
8 The following text change should make the route clearer -
"After the two black metal field gates which open from the centre, walk along the field edge for a short distance keeping your eyes open for a gap in the hedge to your right. Turn right through this gap, cross the stone bridge and go through the fieldgate. Turn immediately left onto a permissive path rather than following the bridleway straight on. Stay close to field edge and continue for approx ¼ mile (400 m) to a set of gates (field and pedestrian). Continue for another approx. 1/5 mile (350m), bear slightly left through a fieldgate and then along a short stretch of track adjacent to a wooded area."
9 This stretch along the farm road is approx 2/5 mile (650m).
11 The route goes through the pedestrian gate so the text should read- "......and go up driveway. Pass through pedestrian gate and continue uphill".
12 The text should read "Keep to the main track and pass the drive to the Manor and then the Church and Hall........."
Updated July 2015
- [PDF] Cherwell Valley Walks Leaflet (1.3Mb)