Walk Distance: 3.9km
Walk Duration: 1hr 30 at dawdling preschooler pace, with time to climb Jarn Mound & a little nature play along the way.
Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer 180 Oxford; OS Landranger 164 Oxford.
Suitable for: Babies in carriers, good little walkers, all the family. Field walking, muddy areas after wet weather and the return leg being a gentle but steady uphill may make it challenging for very little walkers.
Walk Features: Lovely views down towards Oxford, good picnic meadows, varied walk, woodland ( bluebell woods nearby in spring), Jarns Mound (artificial lookout point although view overgrown at time of writing), farm animals.
” The Oxford Spires View Walk at Boars Hill gives the chance to escape the city and see Oxford from a different, more distant, perspective. On a clear day the spires are clearly visible although if you want a photo to mark the occasion you will be advised to bring a zoom lens if you want a close up! Boars Hill has had many well-renowned poets and artists amongst its residents over the years and is referred to in the famous novel Brideshead Revisited.
This is a simple circular walk over varied terrain. Kids will love tearing down the hillside at the start of the walk, climbing the giant steps up to Jarn Mound and building dens in the woodland just before Jarn Wild Garden. I walked this route with my three year old and my one year old, carrying the latter on my back in a sling. Other than a bit of hard going on a muddy farm track (be warned after wet weather) this was a fun and straightforward route with many local options to extend or indeed shorten the walk.If you need a really short, sweet option then walk this route in reverse, stopping when you get to Ridgeway and circling back along the quiet road instead.”
The Oxford Spires View Walk at Boars Hill starts from Berkeley Road, Boars Hill. Walk either along the pavement or in the pasture, following the line of the pavement, until you reach an information board for the Oxford Preservation Trust giving details of Old Berkeley Golf Course, Chilswell Fields & Abraham Wood adjacent to a kissing gate, fairly close to the junction of Berkeley Road with Foxcombe Road.
Go through the kissing gate and into the pasture of Old Berkeley Golf Course.
Walk in the direction of Oxford – the city and its spires are clearly set out before you from here on a clear day. The path weaves steadily downhill over grass, passing an oak tree with a bench beneath it, although you are free to wander and find your own route in this section of the walk – there are no restrictions on where you can walk on the Old Berkeley Golf Course stretch.
Continue on past the tree and bench, walking further downhill aiming for the gate in the hedgerow along the treeline ahead.
Go through the gateway. This can get muddy at times and is sometimes used for livestock.
Continue straight across this field, walking with your back directly to the gateway.
There are two entrances onto a farm track along the hedge opposite here – the newer of which is slightly to the left of the path marked on the OS maps. Go though the gate, over the little footbridge and then through the second gate beyond.
Turn left onto the farm track passing through a further small gate.
The track now leads towards Chilswell Farm. This track can be very muddy after periods of rain which makes slow going for little wellies. You will need wellies!
The track emerges onto another gateway where you will find a wood signpost to Chilswell Farm and Signal Elm. Go through the gate and continue along the hedgeline in the direction of Chilswell Farm.
n.b. If you need to shorten the walk then you can head back uphill here to Signal Elm instead which will eventually return you back to near Berkeley Road.
Continue walking until you can see Chilswell Farm. At the circular water trough turn left and follow the worn grass path uphill, passing the old lightening tree (at least it looks like it!) on your left that the kids may well want to take a short detour to explore. Don’t forget to take a breather to admire the views behind you as you make the gentle climb.
At the top of the hill a metal gate with footpath signs on it leads onto a track lined by trees and hedgerow. Go through and walk along this path until reaching the houses and paved road at Ridgeway.
Turn left and walk a few meters, ignoring the footpath signs opposite and passing a garden with a laurel hedge on the right. Just beyond this is another set of footpath signs to the right hand side. Don’t take the first right onto the bridleway. Instead walk through the little gate onto the pedestrian only track into the woods beyond.
Follow the path through the woods. This is a lovely spot for children to play and there was much evidence of den building when we walked here last.
The path leads eventually to a small gate onto a track. Cross over the track and opposite, slightly to the right, you will find the entrance to Jarn Wild Gardens and Jarn Mound. These gardens and the artificial mound here with its giant steps were the project of resident and noted archaeologist Sir Arthur Evans, who as well as creating the gardens, also left much of his land to the Boy Scouts when he died and which is still used by them today. Jarn mound was originally built to obtain views over Oxford that had been obscured from ground level. Unfortunately at time of writing the view from the top is also obscured by ever-growing trees but children may still enjoy scrambling up the rather large steps to the top.
Continue your walk past the information stone about the gardens and onto the right hand track leading into the wooded area. This weaves through the tranquil Jarn Wild Gardens before eventually emerging onto Ridgeway road once more.
Turn right along Ridgeway until you reach the junction with Berkeley Road. From here follow either the pavement or turn through one of the gateways into the pasture and enjoy the views back down to Oxford once more until you have returned to the start of the walk.
Map of Route:
The Oxford Spires View Walk at Boars Hill starts near the junction of Berkeley Road with Foxcombe Road. Some on road parking can be found along Berkeley Road and surrounding streets but please be mindful of local residents and access.
You can take the 4B bus as far as Matthews Way from Oxford city centre but will need to walk to Boars Hill and the start of the Oxford Spires View walk from there – far enough that you may as well create a new walk from the bus stop rather than simply walk along the roads to this walk’s start and too far to make it feasible with young walkers only capable of walking a few kilometres in total.
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