Day p03: 09 Mar 2014; Weston on the Green to Banbury

Day p03: 09 Mar 2014; Weston on the Green to Banbury
Walk descriptor Banbury trial Day 03
Date Sun 09 Mar 2014 Start to end time 06h 29m
Start point Weston on the Green End point Banbury
Miles today 21.26 Cu miles 71.10
Ft today 629 Cu ft 4,063
Route miles left .00 Route ft left
Today’s weather Glorious, uninterrupted sunshine all day. Light southerly breeze. Started cold and frosty, soon warmed up to at least 16C
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Today’s location
(the red cross in a circle shows where I am at the moment)
GPX based track of today’s walk
(click here to access to access downloadable file)

“The last day of the three day practice trek to Banbury. Set the alarm for 6:30 am so could make an early start. After a very good night’s sleep, I awoke feeling in remarkably good shape, considering yesterday’s hard walk. When I got out of the tent, it was frostly everywhere – but the Snugpak sleeping bag worked and I slept right through it. Unusual for me as I normally need at least a 4 season bag to keep me warm even when the external temperature is plus 25C!

It was a stunning day, and the sun shone every minute of it. Astonishing. I suddenly realised that I might actually need to take sun cream and extra water with me on the LE2JOG hike. After the last 6 months of rain, I had completely forgotten that these might ever be necessary.

The walk followed the Oxfordshire Way through Kirtlington Park, with its impressive country mansion, and then joined the Oxford Canal Walk at Pigeon lock, near Tackley, and followed it all the next 17 miles to Banbury. I had planned a fallback route keeping to the East of the canal, to avoid the floods, but decided to take a chance and go down to the canal and see if the path was navigable. In the end, although the towpath was muddy (of course), it wasn’t actually submerged, so I didn’t need the fallback plan. The stretch of the Oxford canal that I walked runs alongside the river Cherwell, which had indeed flooded into the plains alongside the river, turning them into paddy fields. But the towpath itself is a bit higher so remained passable.

The advantages of walking on canal towpaths are a) you can’t get lost and b) they are usually well maintained. The disadvantages are a) even if you feel you are slogging uphill, you know you can’t be and b) they are v boring. For me, usually the disadvantages outweigh the advantages, but not today. It was a pleasant walk in its own right, with good views of the river and hills beyond – as well as plenty of interesting canal traffic. But after yesterday, all I wanted to do was to follow an easy path, with no obstacles, and no navigation. So it fitted the bill perfectly.

I arrived in Banbury at about 2:15pm, with plenty of time to catch the 2:50 train to Amersham. Except that it only went as far as Bicester today, because of engineering works. Then bus to Princes Risborough. Then train to Aylesbury. Then another train to Amersham. Took nearly 3 hours! – I could almost have walked it faster.

All in all, a successful practice hike though I think for LE2JOG itself I will try and do slightly shorter days, at least at first, and I need to do some rapid foot-repair before I set off. And I wil need to lose yet more weight from the rucksack, to make room for all the extra water and sun cream I will doubtless be needing!

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)
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Start of the day. Up at 6:30 am(!). There had been a gound frost but, unusually, I was warm enough to sleep though it Normally, sheep run a mile when they see me but this one at Kirklington park didn’t. Maybe it’s because I smell like one, now..
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More animals. These ones are horses. Particularly well turned out ones, today Heliotrope. Likes warm wet grassy banks – canal towpath ideal.
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Damage to overtrousers from yesterdays entanglements with barbed wire and brambles is evident. May need a new pair before the LE2JOG hike starts 🙁 Just about the end of the road – for now at least..
Flooded fields (left), River Cherwell (centre) and Oxford canal (right). Maybe we should consider rice production?
The previous day’s blog follows below the blue line
Solid line blue