Wormsley Estate & the Icknield Way
After breakfast we start today’s walk from our hotel and soon join part of the Icknield Way, probably one of the oldest tracks in Britain. We begin our main ascent of the day, up through the beautiful Aston Rowant nature reserve known for its flower-rich chalk grassland. Our route takes us through beech woodland, so typical of the Chiltern Hills, and hear stories of how the woodland has been used in the past. Much of our route is in the Wormsley Estate, acquired by American Anglophile Sir Paul Getty in 1985 and still in the family ownership today. Wormsley Estate is home to Garsington open-air opera of which we can just see the opera pavilion from our walk. We then head uphill and stop for our packed lunch (at own cost) near the interesting named village of Christmas Common. Here and throughout our walk we will almost certainly see those magnificent birds of prey, Red Kites, wheeling overhead. This is the area where they were successfully reintroduced in the 1990s.
The Parishes of the Chiltern Scarp
This morning’s walk after we check out of our rooms includes the parishes of the “Chiltern Scarp” a name for the steep face of the Chilterns Hills . Each parish is called a “strip” parish, long and thin, taking in Chiltern uplands, the scarp and some of the plain and are also known as the “spring line” parishes. The villages came about at the base of the scarp where springs appear, to provide a water supply. Our walk will visit three ; Aston Rowant, Kingston Blount and Crowell, each with a variety of lovely flint and thatched cottages. From our hotel we walk to Aston Rowant, continue through the village, passing the medieval church following “the London Waye” the original medieval road to Oxford along which Queen Elizabeth I is believed to have travelled on a journey from London to Woodstock. Our route follows a wide farmland track along the Lower Icknield Way offering great views of the Chilterns, passing Kingston Blount, then visiting Crowell, the smallest of the parishes, 3 miles long but only half a mile wide.