Glyme Valley Way | Oxfordshire County Council

Glyme Valley Way

A joint project between our Countryside Service and BBC Oxford.

Glyme Valley Way

A 16-mile walk from Chipping Norton, following the path of the River Glyme, to Woodstock.

As a part of the celebrations for Oxfordshire's 1000th birthday, BBC Oxford and the Countryside Service demonstrated the rich history and value of the county's countryside by leaving the legacy of a suggested walking route along the River Glyme, between Chipping Norton and Woodstock.

Route details

You can see the routes of the walk on our interactive countryside access map of the county.

Walk and Cycle logo
To view the trails on your mobile phone, download GPS data and to find pubs, inns, gear shops and other businesses nearby click on the links to the Walk and Cycle website below.

Distance The full route is 16 miles but it can be broken into smaller sections using public transport.
Dogs Allowed under close control, on leads where livestock present.
Disabled access No - there are a number of stiles and kissing gates along the route
Information A leaflet is available to download from this site. BBC Oxford have extensive information on their website.

It is recommended that the downloadable leaflet is used in conjunction with Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 180 - Oxford, Witney and Woodstock, and Map 191 - Banbury, Bicester and Chipping Norton.
Public transport A direct bus is available from Oxford. The route can be split into smaller sections using Stagecoach 10, 20A (Mon-Sat) and X50 (Sundays) services which stop at Enstone and Kiddington.

More details are available from the Traveline website or by calling 0871 200 22 33 (UK landline calls to traveline cost 10p per minute)
Refreshments Chipping Norton and Woodstock have a full range of services providing food and drink.
There are also pubs at Enstone and Wootton.  
Points about the route The terrain is generally undemanding but as with all paths, some areas might be muddy and slippery after rain and there could be seasonal vegetation on the route as well. Please make sure you are prepared with appropriate clothing, take refreshments, a charged mobile phone and make sure people know where you are. There are short sections that cross, or pass alongside, main roads - please take extra care in these areas.

Route review

If you have walked or ridden one of the routes that we suggest, you can review the route for others.

Buy Ordnance Survey maps for route

Discovering Oxfordshire's history

The 16-mile route follows the river as it passes many key historical sites including two Capability Brown parklands, deserted villages, a Roman road, water meadows, waterfalls, and a 12th century church:

Nether Chalford is one of three abandoned villages in the Upper Glyme Valley where mounds and lines left by cottages that have simply rotted into the earth are clear to see. The remains of Over Chalford lie under Old Chalford farm, but the patterns of Nether Chalford and Upper Chalford, across the valley, are so well preserved they are now scheduled ancient monuments.

Lidstone is one of the 'towns' embraced by the parish of Enstone of the Seven Towns. The parish also features the remains of an ancient burial chamber, now known as the Hoar Stone. There is a legend about the hoar stone coming to life when the church clock chimes at Lidstone, which has no church clock.

The path into Church Enstone was a 'corpse path', used to carry coffins to St Kenelm's Church at Church Enstone.

The Harrow Inn on the edge of Enstone is close to the site of a grotto and fountains that became known at Queen Henrietta's waterworks, after King Charles I and his wife visited the gardens created by Thomas Bushell. The fountains could be made to squirt water in different directions. During the royal visit in 1636, two jets of rose coloured water each raised up a golden ball and held it suspended in the air: the King opened one of them up to find inside a portrait of the Queen, painted in ivory. The gardens and their ballroom fell into decline after the civil war and the last trace of them, a yew tree under which the band played, was finally lost in the 1960s.

Mill below the pub at Church Enstone, on a tributary of the Glyme that flows through Heythorp is the last of six watermills in the parish to stop working in the 1960s.

The landscaped gardens at Kiddington Hall was Lancelot 'Capability' Brown's first commission in Oxfordshire. Brown was regarded by many as the greatest exponent of naturalistic landscape gardening, he exploited the 'capability' of 170 gardens in England, including Blenheim, Nuneham Courtney and Adderbury. It was partly because of Brown's landscaping that Blenheim was made a World Heritage Site. He came south to Kiddington Hall in 1739, at the age of 23, for one of his earliest commissions. He said, "I will make it so agreeable that no one will wish to look beyond it". He was praised for 'perfecting nature', but some said his work was a 'feeble imitation' of nature. One critic said he hoped to die before Brown, so he could see Heaven before Brown 'improved' it.

Poet Laureate Thomas Wharton was the clergyman at Kiddington.

Glympton's manor dates from the 11th century and the miniature naturalist landscape around it was laid out in the style of Capability Brown, but it wasn't Brown himself who dammed and widened the River Glyme. The grounds have since been extensively re-worked for Prince Bandar bin Sultan of Saudi Arabia. In the 11th century the village of Glympton stood here too, but it was moved in around 1630 to make way for the new park.

The old village stocks now stand by the river in Glympton. Stocks became commonplace in Medieval England after a statute of 1351 made it law for every township to provide and maintain a set of stocks. The 'Statute of Labourers' was actually brought in to allow punishment for those offering, or demanding high wages as result of labour shortages following the Black Death.

The church at Glympton is one of the best on the route with history linked to Oliver Cromwell. Thomas Tesdale, the founder of Pembroke College, Oxford was buried here in 1610.  

This part of Oxfordshire was indeed a Jurassic Park. Bones of a cetiosaurus, one of four kinds of dinosaur known to have roamed the county, were discovered at Woodstock as recently as the 1980s. And bones of 'The Oxford Brontosaur' - a megalosaurus found at neighbouring Stonesfield - were the first dinosaur remains ever to be scientifically described. Professor William Buckland published his account of them in 1824. In fact, 'Buckland's Giant Lizard', as it was known, was the first creature ever to bear the name 'dinosaur'.

The 'North Oxfordshire Grim's Ditch' dates back to the time when the area round Oxford was a frontier between three Iron Age tribes, in a time of intensive territorial rivalry. No one knows quite why Grim's Ditch was built, but John Steane's history of Oxfordshire suggests it could have been a barrier against chariot warfare. It encloses an area of 80 square kilometres in which a cluster of seven villas and estates were to appear, soon after the Romans arrived. Steane suggests it was given its name half a millennium later by Anglo Saxons, assuming it to be the work of the devil.  

Wootton was a 19th Century glove-making centre, making fine gloves - as was Woodstock. A village trust bought up more than 30 acres of waterside meadow in two tranches, initially as a Millennium project, and this is now open access land, with a new bridge opening up a fine circular walk.

The Black Prince pub in Woodstock is the home of the Old Woodstock Mock Mayor ceremony. It goes back a couple of centuries and was revived in the 60s. Local residents dam the river and have pole fights, and end by throwing the new Mock Mayor in the river. The 'corporation' jump in after him.

Henry II held councils at Woodstock and had his first argument with Thomas Becket there. It was also said that he kept his lover there, the fair Rosamund commemorated by Shakespeare and the well that remains in Blenheim Park today.

Woodstock came back into favour with Henry VII, who did extensive rebuilding and the roistering, sports-mad Henry VIII was a regular visitor in early ears of his reign, with Catharine of Aragon.

Charles I took refuge from the plague at Woodstock, and a gibbet was set up to hang anyone going to London who attempting to return, bringing risk of infection.

Other information

Last reviewed
07 February 2017

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