Monday, 2 November 2009

Checkendon, Ipsden and Stoke Row

The area between Goring and Ewelme is a part of the Oxfordshire Chilterns I have previously missed out on. This is mainly because the official Ridgeway footpath follows the Thames for this section (not that this makes any sense as the Ridgeway would not follow a river!), the old Ridgeway is now a network of lanes. Here is the Google Map route of this walk:

View Checkden - Ipsden - Stoke Row in a larger map

As the weather defeated my hopes for a walk last week, this is a longer, larger posting to compensate.
I started at Checkendon Church, which is a fine old village church, the Chancel has an apse and dates from the twelfth century.

Checkendon,Checkendon church

Inside there is a fragment of mural dating to 1330 discovered recently beneath puritanical plastering.

Checkendon,Checkendon church mural,medieval mural

Also in the church is a curious Elizabethan monument with a skull on top of a laughing head with its tongue hanging out.

Checkendon,Checkendon church tomb,medieval mural

The wind and rain of the weekend has brought down many of the leaves, only the oaks were managing to cling on to theirs. So the beech woods on the chalk ridge are now carpeted with leaves.

beech trees,autumn colours
beech leaves

I came across these handsome fellows when walking close to Garsons Farm


Overhead was what I thought were of long tailed tits, but the black bib means it must be a young pied wagtail.


Coming down from the chalk ridge gave excellent views to the west, including the familiar Didcot Power station, a landmark visible over a very wide area.

berins hill,didoct

The hedgerows have still some white bryony now with the fruits bright red, and on the path down to Ipsden a great many sloes. No Blackberries though, they have been caught by the frost.


Ipsden Church is another very old small, church, with the northern portion dating back, may be, one thousand years.

ipsden,ipsden church

Around Ipsden were a large number of red kites, wheeling around on the steady westerly wind. I saw six pairs in territorial squabbles, and later on they were circling over the ridge doing a vulture impersonation.

red kites

The view back to the south west was enhanced by the freshly ploughed fields.

bachelors hill view

This should be the height of the fungus season, but not much was to be seen, perhaps recent rain will bring them out. This one had a spider clinging on underneath.


Amazingly there were one or two flowers still (2nd November) hanging on. This I think is a Knapweed.


I saw many more birds now that the leaves have fallen, including jays, finches and tits, but I also saw an iron magpie!

magpie gate

Homer Farm looks a proper rural idyll.


Heading back through farmland I came across this nice collection of fungi.


Marked on the map at Stoke Row is a landmark that has always intrigued me; it is just marked as Maharajah's Well. The story is that a local man, Edward Reade, went out to India and worked for the Maharajah of Benares. As reward for helping with building a water supply in India the Maharajah provided a new well at Stoke Row when he learnt that Edward Reade's home village lacked a reliable source of fresh water. It was built in 1863 and goes down an amazing 368 feet - to get to the base of the chalk aquifer.

maharajah,well,stoke row

Stoke Row Church was a little disappointing, it looked mainly Victorian, but there were two pairs of jackdaws playing around on the roof as compensation.

stoke row,jackdaw

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