Pilgrimages in the Ray Valley Benefice: St. Andrew’s, Oddington to St. Mary the Virgin, Charlbury

Total distance about 17 miles. Time (including stops) about 7 hours. Category moderate to easy. Download this page here.

Start from the St. Andrew’s, Oddington, a church dedicated to pilgrims and a member of the Small Pilgrim Places Network.

Turn right and almost immediately left on track alongside Manor Farmhouse. At end of track keep left on road leading to junction with Islip-Merton road. Go straight across on to minor road leading to bridge over railway. Bear right and on reaching Grange Cottage take footpath on left across field. At far side there is a stile and you are now on the Oxfordshire Way. Across first field and turn left on the farm road. This road emerges on to the slip road to the A34. Turn left and look for an opportunity to cross on to the right hand verge. CAUTION – FAST MOVING TRAFFIC. As you cross the A34 there is a footpath, leading to a mini roundabout. Go left to the Chequers public house and pick up the Oxfordshire Way in the car park. The path meanders across the fields and, whilst not well signed, is fairly obvious.

The path emerges into Weston-on-the-Green opposite the Church of St. Mary the Virgin. The original church was built c.1200 but by the 18th century was in ruin. It was then rebuilt, incorporating the 13th century tower. In a peaceful setting it provides the first opportunity for prayer and reflection.

The village shop is close by for refreshments. Leave the churchyard at the far side and pick up the Oxfordshire Way alongside the village hall. The path emerges on to an estate road – turn right and then almost immediately left between houses. The path now goes at 45% left across the field and then through other fields. When you get to a bridleway turn right and then left. The path then goes straight across a field to a gap in a wood. At the other side of the wood you enter Kirtlington Park.

The path leaves Kirtlington Park close to Kirtlington Village Hall. Go behind the hall on a footpath that leads into the churchyard of St. Mary the Virgin.

The churchyard is well maintained and has a wildlife area, including shelters for hedgehogs,

This splendid church originates from the 10th century and was rebuilt in the 12th century. An opportunity for quiet prayer in an inspiring setting. Leave the churchyard via the main gate, leading to the village centre. Follow the main road past the school and then turn left on to the green. You are now back on the Oxfordshire Way on an unmade road leading to Three Pigeons Lock on the Oxford Canal. Go over the canal and resume on the Oxfordshire Way. Go under a railway bridge to where the Oxfordshire Way turns right across a field towards Tackley. The next section of the Oxfordshire Way is poorly signed and has a section through trees that is covered in brambles and stinging nettles. Advice is to avoid this section, the alternative being on reaching the cottage to continue straight on through Whitehill. Admire the splendid old properties and when you emerge on to the road to Tackley turn right. At the bottom of the hill you will pick up the Oxfordshire Way – turn left. Keep to the right of the field until the footpath goes right on to a minor road. Turn left and alost immediately you are on the main Oxford to Banbury road. CROSS WITH CARE and go left. Here is the Sturdys Castle public house, giving a welcome opportunity for refreshment. The Oxfordshire Way can be rejoined by going to the right of the car park towards a five-bar gate and turning left.

The Oxfordshire Way emerges on to the B4027 Glympton road at Sansoms Cottage. Go straight across on to a minor road. A lengthy, undulating road section, with a need to watch out for vehicles on the blind bends. On reaching the Woodstock to Chipping Norton road go across to pick up the Oxfordshire Way into Blenheim Park. Enter the park through a wooden gate in the wall.

The path is now well signed through the park. Exit from the park is on a set of steps. A long section now takes you across fields towards Stonesfield. Emerge through a stile near the river and turn immediately right up a hill to enter the village. You will soon come to the Church of St. James the Great.

So significant to visit the church of the Patron Saint of pilgrims! A time to reflect on pilgrimages throughout the centuries and our reasons for doing them.

Continue left through the village until reaching the Methodist Church.

Take a narrow path to the left, leading down to a road and then straight over on to a farm track.

The Oxfordshire Way is straight ahead on wide paths. You are now on high ground, with good views of the surrounding countryside. On reaching a pair of farm cottages the path turns left with a steep descent. A long section through trees leads to the Woodstock road on the edge of Charlbury. Turn left and at Fiveways take the Hixet Wood road, leading to the town centre. Our final destination is the Church of St. Mary the Virgin, which provides a great reward on a long day’s walk. The 12th century building is in a quiet setting and is an opportunity to give thanks for our pilgrimage.

Return by S3 bus every hour from Bell public house to Woodstock and Oxford.