Burton Dassett Hike (SeeSaw): January 30th
10 miles via Farnborough Hall (National Trust)
- 10:00am meet.
- Waterproofs, walking boots and packed lunch are essential.
- Do bring dogs, but there are sheep and roads, so remember a lead.
Half of the sign up fee will be donated to Oxford based SeeSaw.
One of our favourite charities, which "provides support for children, young people and their families in Oxfordshire when they have been bereaved or when somebody close to them is terminally ill."
We start from the picturesque Warwickshire village of Fenny Compton, getting the sharpest climb of the day out of the way as we head straight up Mill Hill. A small pretty wood heads us back down for a little stretch of the Oxford Canal path, which is surprisingly dry for this time of year.
The Oxford Canal is 78-miles long, traversing Oxfordshire, Northamptonshire and Warwickshire, linking the River Thames at Oxford with the Coventry canal at Bedworth, where it connects with the Coventry Canal, a little over 4 miles from the city centre. Completed in 1790, it is integrated with the Grand Union Canal—combined for 5 miles close to the village of Napton-on-the-Hill. It was the main canal artery of trade between the Midlands and London for around 15 years. Today it is frequently used for narrowboating holidays.
Having left the company of the swimming swans and canal boats, we make for the village of Claydon before crossing the railway line and onto Farnborough. The 18th century grade I listed Farnborough Park National Trust property is made from locally quarried Horton honey-coloured stone and has been home to the Holbech family since 1684. During World War I and World War II the house was used as an auxiliary hospital. Sadly its fine landscape gardens and lakes are not due to reopen until April, so this will be just a passing visit.
Undulating farmed hills lead us onto the village of Avon Dassett, where we are first met by its impressive Victorian St John the Baptist Church, who's spire soars over the village - a masterpiece built in fourteenth-century Gothic style, set amongst trees. Charles Buckeridge built it from local golden Hornton sandstone in 1869 to replace a medieval church, the east window of which he reset in the west wall of the tower.
The Yew Tree pub acts as a welcome rest point before our last uphill battle. In July 2017 the Avon Dassett Community Benefit Society purchased and saved the pub, previously known as The Avon, from extinction.
On our way up the hill into the park we meet the glorious 12th Century All Saints Church standing as remains of the old Burton Dassett village. In front of the church there is still a holy well providing water. This church and park were used in the 1990 film "Three Men and a Little Lady".
Our path opens up into characteristic lumpy green pasture at the pinnacle of the Burton Dassett Hills. Opened as a country park in 1971 and now run by Warwickshire County Council. You can see over 20 miles to places such as Coventry. The notable Grade II listed beacon is being restored, after a year's delay due to bats being found hibernating in the domed roof.
Known as a real "Jurassic Park", the hills were created during a Jurassic period seascape up to 200 million years ago, when the shore edges were thought to be around Oxford. Remains of sea creatures were buried under layers and layers of sedimentary ironstone deposits. These have later been further moulded and fossils exposed by quarrying of the local honey-coloured "Hornton Stone" that can been seen in much of the housing in the local area (such as Farnborough Park). The hills' lumpy appearance later being enhanced by quarrying for ironstone as a source of iron ore at the end of the 19th century and after the First World War.
From the magnificent views at our highest point it's all down hill back to Fenny Compton, crossing the traditional muddy ploughed field as a finale'.
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Join us for a hike in beautiful places like the Brecon Beacons, Cotswolds, Malverns, Chilterns, Peak District and Oxford. The perfect way to start your training for a challenge like a 3 Peaks or simply to get out into the countryside, while being sociable.
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