Sunday, 2 February 2014

Hermitage and Oare

Old Street

Walks following the Old Street in Oxfordshire and West Berkshire.

Wantage - Ridgeway
Ridgeway - Farnborough
Farnborough - Catmore
Catmore - Hermitage
Hermitage - Bucklebury

The weekend has provided a couple of fine sunny days before the next deluge of wet weather sweeps in. It remains worryingly mild with many signs of nature thinking Spring is here already.

I took the opportunity to walk a small section of Old Street. I have covered this general area on two previous walks : Beedon and Hermitage. I started at the small village of Hermitage. Here is a map of the five mile walk:

View Hermitage and Oare in a larger map

I walked to Oare Common which is some woodland on the high ground to the west of the village.


I spotted this fungus growing in the middle of a 'living' tree. Difficult to identify but looks sulphurous!

Oare Common,fungi

The woodland had been cleared in the last fifty years or so, there are only a few old trees. It did not feel like an ancient wood; however some old oak trees look magnificent - this one had a fork in it which meant it was not worth felling for timber.

Oare Common,oak,woods

I followed the muddy and slippery path north to the lane to the village of Oare. The tiny church is no longer in regular use and is dwarfed by the fine pine tree nearby. There is believed to have been a church here in Saxon times (638CE) so it is certainly an ancient site.


The hedge by the church already had some blossom, although I think this is Viburnum so that is not out of the ordinary for the time of year.


More traditional and about on time were some snowdrops close to the village pond.


I walked north across the Motorway, well a bridge over the M4, towards Oareborough Hill. This is actually quite a significant small hill as it can be seen for a long way around; it is isolated from the high ground to the south.

Oareborough Hill

The woods covering the hill turned out not to be as ancient as I had hoped; there were few really old trees and there was no dog's mercury or woodruff to indicate ancient woodland. I walked back along a section of Old Street, which is probably as old as the Great Ridgeway. This section does indeed have all the signs of being a few thousand years old.

Old Street

Old Street has some very old trees along it, this one looks like it was coppiced at an early age.

Old Street

Unfortunately Old Street is truncated by the M4, there is no bridge over the motorway for it; so I had to retrace my route via a path between fields. Here some fresh toadstools had come up (Mycena family?).


More signs of Spring on the way with the fairly inevitable picture of catkins, probably hazel.


More definite signs were found in the young shoots of honeysuckle.


To complete the walk back to Hermitage I took an alternative path through Oare Common which was a little less muddy than the other route. As the path goes across fields there were some good views back to the winter woodland landscape.

Oare Common

And a final one as I came out on ‘Doctors Lane’ - now should have that have an apostrophe? Who should I complain to if it should?

Oare Common

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