Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Grim's Ditch - Nuffield & The Crown Pub.

Grim’s Ditch – Nuffield & The Crown Pub
This is a walk that can be as long or as short as you want it to be, we turned back after about two and a half miles, but could have gone on for miles.

We knew rain was forecast – but we walked anyway.

Our destination was a section of Grim’s Ditch, that large linear earthwork built during the Iron Age and named after the Nordic God Grim. This remarkable ditch runs for five miles from Mongowell to Nuffield, South Oxfordshire.

Uncle John, Pythius and I joined it just outside the small village of Nuffield.
Had the skies not suggested rain was imminent, perhaps we would have taken the footpath that crosses the golf course to the path that leads to Grim’s Ditch, and begun our walk close to the Crown Pub that stands besides the golf course on the A4130.

Lord Nuffield's Grave
 Instead we turned off the A4130 and drove into the village, taking the first right hand turn and parking the car besides Holy Trinity Church, where Lord Nuffield, who created the Morris car in 1913, is buried in a modest grave.This cut off about a quarter of a mile of the walk, which would have taken us over close-mown lawns and past several frustrated gulf enthusiasts who do not like dogs walking over their patch.

After leaving the churchyard, having paid due homage to this great man who died in 1963, we followed the path next to the church which is clearly marked along the left hand side. The track led us through a large field that in turn took us to the ancient ditch. 

Pythius & the black sheep

The Crown pub

We then walked for approximately two and a half miles before deciding the promised rain may be about to arrive. As the skies darkened we turned back and made for the car and then The Crown, where Uncle John and I enjoyed a delightful lunch, while an exhausted Pythius slept under the table, dreaming of Mr Badger, Mr Fox and some rather attractive black sheep who he spotted in a field adjoining our path. 

Taps at the Church

Pythius enjoys water enroute
 The quirky thing that really amused us during this walk were the water taps – yes water taps. Outside the church there were two taps, one marked drinking water and one marked water, then half way along the walk we encountered a white farm gate where another sign for water was painted on the post. Underneath this tap was a log that had been slightly hollowed out to catch water. Pythius was particularly grateful for this tap on our return as there are no rivers on this walk and despite it being a damp day – no puddles either.

Pythius leads the way
 Walking the ditch was an amazing experience. Each step we took suggested we were walking on ancient foundations, and the tangled roots of trees suggested this was another bosky wood in which goblins, trolls and other strange creatures lived. We were also aware of the power of nature, the great age of the trees and a strange magical feel that embraced this route, such that at times we were convinced we were being watched by unseen eyes. That said, it was a great walk, we returned to the pub feeling we had made contact with our ancestors and the very essence of the earth and all it stands for.

Pythius has his say:
Well - if I was allowed to give scores for walks this would get 9 out of 10. Only the river was missing.
The  water tap fixed to the gate with its little wooden trough, carved out a tree trunk, in which the water  settled was a dog's delight as I was just beginning to get thirsty. Never have I seen such a drinking hole before, and the water was crisp, cold and satisfying. Had I needed more when we got back to the church, I could have drunk there too!

The walk seemed to go on forever

As to the ditch - well what can I say?  It was amazing, all those wonderful smells, the falling leaves that 

created a soft  carpet on which I could walk, the black sheep in the field that trotted over to speak to me, and the slippery slopes which I ran up and down all the way  to the end and back.  Well actually, that is a bit of an exaggeration, we didn't actually go to the very end - but we did go a very long way before  Uncle John and Helen decided to turn round.

By the time we returned to the pub I was exhausted - gosh what a lucky dog I am.

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