Pilgrimages in the Ray Valley Benefice: Islip-Woodeaton-Noke-Islip

Approximately 9.5 km/ 2hrs – Download the route here.

 Start at Church of St. Nicholas, Islip, a historic Grade 1 listed building. Significant to pilgrims in that Edward the Confessor, who was born in Islip c.1004 is said to have gone on a pilgrimage to St. Peters, Rome.

From the church door turn right, on the road turn left to the bottom of the hill. Turn right on Mill Street, where there a number of splendid houses. After the last house on the left turn left on the footpath. The path crosses a weir on the River Ray, just before it joins the River Cherwell. Time for prayer and reflection.

Turn right and follow the bank of the Cherwell until taking a path going off to the left. With the hedgerow on your right continue on this path to the end of the field.

Turn right on a wide track, with a wall on your left. At the end of the wall the footpath goes left, leading to Woodeaton.

At the end of the path you will be opposite the Church of the Holy Rood. This Grade 1 listed building remains virtually unaltered since its medieval origins. Admire the wall painting and the minstrels’ gallery. Time to reflect upon centuries of worship.

On leaving the church turn right and walk on the road through the village, taking care as it is a busy route to Oxford. On reaching the B4027 Islip to Wheatley road go straight across to join a footpath to Noke. Warning – fast moving traffic!

The path goes through Prattle Wood, glorious in Spring with carpets of wildflowers, and emerges in Noke.

Turn left and walk through the village until reaching the Church of St. Giles.

The church dates from the 13th century and is in the ‘Early English’ style. A small building but very attractive inside. Always welcoming to strangers and an opportunity for quiet reflection. A time for prayer.

From the church walk straight ahead, up the hill. After the last house on the right take the Oxfordshire Way footpath on your right. As you reach the high ground you will, on a clear day, have views ahead to Islip and to your right you can pick out the churches at Oddington and Charlton-on-Otmoor.

Continue on the Oxfordshire Way to Islip, turning right to go along the verge of the B4027 and over Islip Bridge, the location of a battle in the English Civil War. On the far side of the bridge turn left and then right. On your right is the Old Rectory, a magnificent house. Through the gates you will see the barn where, in 1830, the Otmoor rioters were initially housed after their arrest. Amongst distinguished Rectors residing here was William Buckland’

Take the gravel track, Church Walk, to the left opposite the Old Rectory. Enjoy the period houses before reaching the church.