with tips for cycling & hiking
OXFORD –Bletchington - Cycling - Greenhill Leisure Park
We were looking for a site close to home for a short break and this site caught our eye due to its proximity to the Oxford Canal. A quick phone call on the day before to confirm pitch availability and to check access to the canal from the site.
They have provided access to the canal across their fields and have closely mown the grass, so it is an easy 500 metre walk or cycle. The down side for bikes is that you have to negotiate a kissing gate as you leave the farm. They did warn me about this but it is a shame that given that they have taken considerable time and care with ensuring access to the pub,’ The Rock of Gibraltar’, on the canal, avoiding the road, that it is not more bike friendly.
I did, however, learn a new technique in negotiating these gates, courtesy of a guy I met on the Thames towpath; you up end your bike, so that it is vertical and this allows you to get it past the gate.
This is a minor moan because I could not fault this site. The facilities are good and though there is not a dedicated motor home service point they have provided a facility to top up with fresh water and also a point to dump your waste and ok the latter is only a lift off manhole cover but this is all you need. Other sites should take note when they are unable to provide motorhome facilities.
The hard standing pitches are spacious and there is an attractive camping field with EHU’s.
There are two fishing lakes and youngsters have not been forgotten in that a games room has been provided, together with outside play areas. Butlins this is not but if you are looking for a good quality site in an attractive rural setting and even the disused works after a while fits into the scenery and at a very reasonable price, £20 a night with EHU, in peak season then this is the answer. It also is a working farm with a number of rare breeds which also has its attractions.
For us the canal provided the draw and on our first day we took the canal southwards for a trip into Oxford which is an easy 18 mile return trip and though the towpath is not paved, until you reach the outskirts of Oxford, is nevertheless easily cyclable.
You pass through Thrupp and Kidlington and there are a couple pubs on route at these two places together with Annie’s Tearooms at Thrupp.
It is also a pleasant walk to Thrupp for afternoon tea and it is possible to return to the site across country .
The canal follows the River Cherwell for a large part of its route and in places, as here, parts of the the Cherwell were used for navigation. This was designed to save money but never proved to be totally satisfactory.
The cyclepath to Oxford is narrow in places but easily cycled. When you get closer to Oxford it becomes paved.
The second day we went northwards to Upper Heyford and as far as cycling is concerned this was a rather different experience. We were warned by a couple coming south that the path got narrower and more overgrown. At times you were faced with the decision of avoiding the stinking nettles on your left and falling in the canal on your right.
There are a couple of pubs in Upper Heyford for lunch or alternatively picnic at the lock. Due to the fact that the towpath was not entirely conducive to cycling, we decided to take the road back. You simply head up to the main road, turn right and take the first turning left, which is Camp road and then take the first turning right and continue heading south in a straight line, through the village of Kirtlington, into Bletchington and turn right to Greenhill. This is an easy ride and mostly downhill and the majority on relatively quiet roads. It is an official cycle route but it is not well signposted.
It is a bit of a shame that a cycle path has not been made all the way from Oxford to Bicester, along the canal, as this would be a great off road route.