Walk Distance: 3.5km for a full loop of the common but you can do as little or as much as you like!
Walk Duration: As long or short as you like. Allow up to two hours for a slow, full loop of the common at preschooler pace, with plenty of exploring and foraging time.
Ordnance Survey: Explorere 171 Chiltern Hills West, Landranger 175 Reading & Windsor
Suitable for: babies in carriers, little legs & all the family. Suitable for cross-country buggies unless very wet.
Walk Features: option to extend the walk to Rusell’s Water or Pishill (be aware the latter involves a couple of steep hills, so might challenge very young walkers); lots of space to run around safely and for ball games, kite flying and picnics; blackberry picking in autumn, several good pubs nearby including the excellent Five Horseshoes at Maidensgrove – just a short wander along the common, option to stop by the duck pond in Russell’s Water – the same one as featured in the ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’ film!
Kate says: This was the first route we walked with our third baby, just a week after he was born. We set off with the intention of walking the short route described here but the other footpaths were too tempting and we extended to do the second route shown on the maps below instead, stopping for pub lunch at Pishill. Maidensgrove and Russell’s Water Common is a lovely place to visit with young children. The open space means little ones can run freely and explore without you losing sight of them or worrying about cars and with no defined footpath to follow you can make your walk as long or short as you like. The option to combine with a picnic, pub lunch, ball games or kite flying makes this walk super family-friendly. You can even bring a cross-country pushchair! One word of warning: if you’re walking with very little children and choose to extend your route by taking one of the many tempting footpaths leading off the common then do be aware that the terrain once away from the common gets hilly fast. Our kids were fine but a week after giving birth, I admit I was aching a little by the time we made it back up the last hill!
The Maidensgrove and Russell’s Water Common Walk starts from the outskirts of Maidensgrove, where there is a an area of roadside parking just on the edge of the common (see directions below).
The main track heads off diagonally across the common from the information board. The grassy path follows roughly the direction of the road.If you want to visit the Five Horseshoes pub for refreshments then as you approach a small wooded area on the edge of the path with a house next to it, turn left and head for the road. The pub is a very short walk along the quiet roadway from there.
Otherwise continue on the path broadly following the edge of the common.
If you choose to continue all the way then the path will eventually lead you to the outskirts of Russell’s Water, where your path will intersect with a paved track. Divert left and into Russell’s Water and you will find the duck pond used in the children’s classic film ‘Chitty Chitty Bang Bang’.
For those looking to extend their route, turn right along the track and then you can continue on the footpath that leads straight on through the farm buildings and onto a woodland track, for a 3.5km or 5.6km loop towards Pishill. The longer option of these takes you in to the Crown Inn at Pishill before returning on the Oxfordshire Way, the shorter option involves taking the first signposted main right hand fork on the footpath in the woods, which returns you via some down and uphill woodland meandering to the walk starting point. Both these options have quite steep sections of hill which may not be suitable for very little walkers (although our 2 1/2 year old managed ok, albeit very slowly)!
If you’re looking merely to loop the common then cross over towards the farm buildings on the paved track but don’t go through the gate. Instead turn right and back on the direction you came, following the path along the fenceline instead to start your return route.
For those walking with very young children or looking to avoid too much hard work pushing with a cross-country buggy, it may be better to return on the same route you came out on, as the return loop of the common listed above does have a couple of hillier sections in it.
Of course, you don’t have to follow these directions at all. Being a common, you can roam for as a far as you like and let your little ones lead the way on the many grassy tracks that criss-cross this wonderful, scenic stretch of open land.
Map of Route:
Maidensgrove to Pishill Extension Route (5.6km)
Public parking can be found on the edge of the common at Maidensgrove near the information board. At the time of writing there was no public transport serving Maidensgrove directly. Your closest hub is Henley on Thames – about a 10 minute taxi drive away. Cyclists need to be prepared for some hilly access roads. You are in the Chilterns now!
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