Circular Walk Chimney Meadows and Thames Footpath 16th April 2019 6.5 miles

On a dull and grey morning 18 members drove to Chimney Meadows, where 3 more members were waiting for us.

Chimney is a hamlet on the River Thames near Shifford Lock, 6 miles south of Witney. It is an ancient landscape and a vital refuge for wading birds; Chimney Meadows is the Berks, Bucks & Oxon Wildlife Trust’s largest nature reserve. The reserve is of national importance for its species-rich wetland meadows that support large numbers of now scarce ground-nesting birds, and provides a haven for curlew, snipe and reed bunting.  We saw and heard the curlew calling.

The fields were full of wild flowers mostly cowslips and the matching coloured dandelion.

A footpath took us alongside the fields of cowslips to a lane which lead into Chimney village.  We stayed on this lane passing the entrance to the bird hides and picnic tables.

After crossing a bridge over the Thames, we joined the Thames footpath, alongside the Shifford Lock Cut.  Crossing a footbridge, we continued on the footpath for a short way until we came to Duxford ford, the only ford still on the river.  Once there was a ferry point and wharf there.  The river was to deep and running to fast to attempt crossing it.  We were now on a bridle way heading for the hamlet of Duxford.  Buckland House and Church were visible from here.  We continued over fields and pathways until we came to Tenfoot Bridge over the Thames which was built when a former weir was removed.  

Now back on the Thames path, walking alongside the meandering river, passing 2 WWII pillboxes; this was where we saw the curlew.  The path took us back to the first bridge that we had crossed earlier.

Tree felling had taken place and we were able to sit on the logs and use as table and chairs to eat our well-earned lunch.  From here we retraced our steps up the lane until we reached the entrance to the the bird hides.  We took a short detour to look in the hides and then continued back to our cars reaching them just as it started to rain.  Thank you to Hazel for recceing the walk with me and to the car drivers. Our next long walk is on 21st May Faringdon/Radcot and Littleworth.  Pam

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