Stonesfield and the Salt Way

A circular walk along historic trackways

This excellent circular walk follows part of the Oxfordshire Way, a long-distance walk through the county that runs south-east from Bourton-on-the Water through to Henley-on-Thames. It then returns to Charlbury via the ancient Salt Way.

  1. At the Bull/Rose & Crown, take Sheep Street south (signposted Hixet Wood). Follow the road, passing the Three Horseshoes, until the Five Ways road junction. Here, take the Woodstock Road past houses on either side until after about 300m, the main road curves left uphill.
  2. Take Stonesfield Lane straight ahead. When the lane ends, bear right onto the bridleway. After half a mile you come out from the hedged lane and cross a bridleway.
  3. Continue in the same direction on a cart-track with open country on either side. The path goes down into a small valley. In the second dip of the valley, where you can see cottages to your left, turn off the main track left along the field edge path with the hedge on your right.
  4. Go through a gate to the right of the cottages and cross a track to continue along a farm road. After crossing another bridleway, go straight on downhill to the road in Stonesfield village.
  5. Cross the road and take the signed path slightly to the left opposite, which leads uphill to come out on a road by the chapel. (Stonesfield has an Early English church, which suffered what was referred to as 'lunatic restoration' when in 1876 a new north aisle was built, completely destroying the small scale of the church. The stone roof tiles of the villages and towns of Oxfordshire, are known as Stonesfield slates because they come from the parish of Stonesfield. The mining of these stones stopped early in the twentieth century and they can now only be obtained at great expense and good luck when an old house or barn is demolished. You can still see a few signs of the old quarrying operations. Most were small and only worked by two or three men, either in the sides of steep valleys or holes in the ground around 60 feet deep with galleries leading off them. Large stone slabs were brought to the surface and left for the frost to split them into thin layers, after which they were fixed to battens in the roof. The village is well-known to geologists for the remarkable fossils found in the neighbourhood.)
  6. Follow High Street through Stonesfield, past the school, then turn left at the Black's Head pub. Continue north through the village, following Pond Hill past the local shops, to a green T-junction by the White Hart pub.
  7. At the White Hart, turn right and follow Stonesfield Riding out of the village. After the last houses have ended to the right, take the track left, Ruddy Lane. (Continuing up the road for a short way will take you to Callow Farm with its friendly farm shop, should you need refreshments.)
  8. Continue along Ruddy Lane, crossing a bridleway after 600m, until you reach a busy road. This is the main B4437 road from Woodstock to Charlbury.
  9. Cross the road carefully and continue along the Salt Way. This ancient trackway, towards the salt town of Droitwich, is now a Site of Special Scientific Interest.
  10. When the track becomes tarmacked, turn left, passing Ditchley Park Farm (marked on OS maps under its former name, Dustfield Farm). Follow the bridleway for just under a mile.
  11. Turn left onto a footpath that will take you to The Slade, the road on the eastern edge of Charlbury.
  12. Cross the Slade onto Crawborough, beside the Primary School. Continue down the unpaved road of Crawborough to the Playing Close. Cross to the Co-op opposite, then follow the one-way street of Brown's Lane to return to the start.
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