Hethe


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A 4.5-mile Hethe walk from the Muddy Duck pub to Cottisford and Shelswell Park through open countryside and woodland.

Park in Hethe and walk through the village in an easterly direction, passing the war memorial on your right. Cross a bridge over a small stream and climb over a stile to join the footpath on your left.

Follow this footpath in roughly a northerly direction, passing over another stile and through an archway in the hedgerow ahead and continuing along the edge of the field beyond. Pass over a stile and a bridge and through three gates until you reach the village of Cottisford.

Turn right onto the aptly-named Single Track Road through Cottisford and continue to the parish clerk's house, at which point turn right and right again onto Hethe Road. Shortly after passing the cottages on your right, pick up the footpath on your left. Pass through the gate and alongside the privately-owned Cottisford Pond to your left before another gate leads you into Shelswell Plantation. Pass through a third gate beneath the trees and turn right onto the bridleway at the far end of the woods.

When the track meets the road, turn left and take the next turning on your right to pick up another bridleway. This runs to the left of the house at the entrance to Shelswell Park, which dates back to the eighth century and was confiscated by King William during the Norman conquest. Its subsequent owner, Odo, the Bishop of Bayeux, appears on the Bayeux Tapestry, while the estate itself features in the Doomsday Book of 1086. Nothing remains of the medieval village that once existed here but the estate has been improved significantly by descendants of Gilbert Harrison, who bought the grounds in the 1780s.

Sticking to the bridleway, pass the farm buildings on your left, cross over one stile and another and enter a large, open field. The footpath here is not clearly defined, so walk along the left hand side and once you reach the gate, turn right along the hedgerow until you reach a stile. Cross over and enter the adjacent field. Again, the footpath is not clearly defined. Keep to the right hand side of this field as you head uphill and turn left once you reach the fence at the top.

Walk along the fence until you reach another stile, beyond which the path heads in roughly a straight line across the adjacent field to another stile. Climb over and turn right when you pick up the farm track that leads to Hethe Road. Cross over the road and into Main Street to return to your parking place, perhaps via a drink and a bite to eat at The Muddy Duck, surely one of Oxfordshire's best country pubs.