One of the real joys of walking through the countryside of Britain is the variety of scenery we pass through and the wonderful snippets of local history that we are learning. Banbury marked the end of the flatter country we have experienced last week. We managed to see Banbury cross though the current one is not the one of the nursery rhyme. That one was destroyed by a ‘Puritan mob’ in the sixteen hundreds. The current one is sited in the middle of a busy roundabout and was put there to celebrate the marriage of Queen Victoria’s daughter to the Prussian heir to the throne. It is in the style of a medieval Eleanor cross. Nearby is a twenty-first century sculpture of the lady on the white horse.
After leaving the town the countryside became much more rolling and as we followed the Jurassic Way marking the limestone ridge, we came across pretty stone-built villages very reminiscent of the Cotswold villages we had seen earlier further south-west. There was also the sense of historical events and stately houses. One day we walked past Catesby House the home of the mother of Robert Catesby of Gunpowder Plot fame. When the plot was discovered he fled here only to be warned to move further north (which he did – but was still arrested). In the village of Ashby St Ledgers is the gatehouse room where it is reputed that the Gunpowder plot was actually hatched. Nearby is a lovely medieval church of St Mary the Virgin and St Leodinius. Catesby House Gunpowder Plot location.
As we passed near Watford gap service station we were struck by how most of the means of communication were actually forming barriers to cross. The railway, the Grand Union Canal, the M1, the A14 and the A5 were all quite formidable though the most difficult barrier was actually a large field of oil seed rape which had been planted over the path making it quite impossible to find!
It was good to meet the wonderful and generous people of Kidlington
Methodist church, Peter from Chipping Warden, Simon and Richard who bought us drinks in the Red Lion in Helliford, Peter, Sue and Trevor in Winwick, Caroline in West Haddon, Richard, who showed us a better route to Belton-in-Rutland and many other well-wishers from the villages of Northants.
Scrabble: Nancy 2 John 2
Trig Points 0
Kissing Gates 33
En route donations £355.10 (includes Kidlington Church £280)
Banbury Cakes 3
Red Leicester cheese 250g