Walk Distance: 2.5 km
Walk Duration: 50 minutes (at toddler & bluebell admiring pace)
OS Map: OS Explorer 171 Chiltern Hills West, OS Landranger 175 Reading & Windsor
Suitable for: toddlers, babies in carriers, all-terrain pushchairs, all the family.
Walk features: Bluebells in April/May, National Trust Nuffield Place (with tearoom) next door, some good views.
I discovered this walk during a spring visit with Roo to next-door Nuffield Place. Walking in their gardens I caught tantalising glimpses of blue in the woodland beyond and had to explore! The woods here are spectacular in bluebell season. It’s a great walk for little ones too – aside from the final stretch on the lane (you can cut this out if you prefer) they can pretty much run wild. The path goes round the boundaries of the wood, is quite short and although a couple of the paths are a bit vague, you’d have to try pretty hard to get lost!
The walk starts from the Nuffield Place National Trust car park, although if you aren’t driving or visiting the house, you can pick it up from the junction of the A4130 with Bradley Road instead (that’s the turn-off from the main road for Nuffield Place).
Follow the signs to Nuffield Place. The route to the house passes over a small path just at the edge of the car park. Turn left down this path and walk along it as you pass woods on your right and up a very small incline towards a field above.
Here there is a choice of paths – follow the right hand path into the woods. The track now leads round to the left broadly following the border of Park Wood. In bluebell season the entire forest floor here is a carpet of blue nodding heads, particularly spectacular on a sunny day when the light bouncing through the open canopy onto the tree trunks and green leaves of the bluebells below seems to transform it into a fairy glade.
At the far end of the woods the path leads to a gate onto Huntercombe End Road. Before you reach the gate, follow the footpath round to the right and continue to walk around the outer boundary of the woods. There is also a more direct path passing back through the middle of the woods here if you need a quicker return route but it is a little hard to find.
Follow the woodland track until you see the path narrowing and disappearing into tall hedges ahead and a building to the right. A few meters before this narrowing, you should come to a junction in paths, with another trail leading to the right. Take this path and continue until you meet another wide path crossing it.
If you want to cut the walk short or remain in the woods then carry straight on over and the path will take you past the gardens of Nuffield Place on your left before emerging at your original starting point.
For those continuing on the full loop, turn left instead and walk along the new track. It narrows slightly as it leaves the bluebells and Park Wood behind and passes the back of Nuffield Place on the right hand side and a rather impressive residential garden on the left.
The path emerges onto the junction of A4130 and Bradley Road – the alternative starting point for those not parking at the National Trust car park.
Turn right along Bradley Road and follow the pavement back towards Nuffield Place. There are some lovely far-reaching views across Oxfordshire from the fields to the left of the pavement as you walk back.
Before reaching the turn-off for the car park you will see a building on the right hand side of the road and a sign saying ‘No access for Nuffield Place’. There is also a footpath sign pointing towards the driveway here. Cross over and follow the footpath sign past the house and car-park and into the hedgey avenue beyond. Follow the path a short distance as it slowly rises back to the original starting point at the entrance to Nuffield Place where cream teas are on hand, should you be in the mood for indulgence!
Map of Route:
Nuffield Place and Park Woods are most easily reached by car. Free parking is available to National Trust visitors at Nuffield Place but is otherwise limited.
Nuffield Place is also accessible by bus from Henley-on-Thames and Wallingford. Check on Transport Direct for times.
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