Branches East Vale News
East Vale Winter Walk Dec 28 Childrey Village Green

EAST VALE Walk off the Christmas Turkey Walk 2013

Christmas 2013_Canal_Walk_1000
I had severe fears about the state of the weather for this walk on the Saturday
after Christmas.  As we experience one trough of low pressure and attendant
rains after another I had a horrible feeling this was going to get cancelled.
On Boxing Day I thought I should check the walk out...and as luck would have
it the sun shined all afternoon ( well until dusk anyway!). Having found out that
the paths were not over squishy ( technical term) I rested easy.
On Friday in my guise of Grove Scout Group Chairman and spouse of the
Grove Silver Beavers leader I joined them for a walk from White Horse Hill
to Waylands Smith. We arrived at the carpark to a howling gale and one
of the , now all to familiar squalls, but shortly after the sun came out and
we had a superb walk out and back.
If you haven't done it then you are missing a treat...and what has this to do with the Wilts & Berks? Stand
either by the picnic table at the car park or for the more adventurous...walk up to the top of the hill and gaze
with wonder at awe at the beauty of the Vale of White Horse. Watch the trains coming up and down the valley
....follow the hedgeline that is the route of the canal around Uffington, and watch the next storm cloud
approaching from the Swindon direction.

Xmas Walk_ac2 

xmas walk_bc

Xmas walk_cc

Start at Childrey

On the top bridleway heading
for East Challow
Standing on the canal bridge
at Cornhill Lane
 Xmas Walk_1c  Xmas Walk_2-1000  unnamed
 On the towpath at West Challow
next to Cornhill Ditch outflow
 Childrey Bridleway bridge at
Childrey/West Challow 
 Childrey Wharf

Saturday came and with it more sunshine. I arrived at Childrey village green to find several people already there
and waiting, so I quickly donned the walking boots and waited for others to join us. Eventually we had 21 hardy
souls and set off through the village. Childrey in the sunshine is gorgeous, full of architectural gems: the thatched
properties, the alms houses, the stable block at the corner of Stow Hill ( modelled in the vale scene at
Pendon Museum). Down Stow Hill past the cress beds and then up the metalled bridleway east towards
East Challow. The path rises and gives a superb view across the eastern vale.

We stopped where the path crosses the West Challow Road. A lovely view back towards the village with the
church prominent on the edge of the hill. In the background the wind turbines at Watchfield slowly turning.
The ridge which the A420 follows clear in the north and further in the background the edge of the Cotwolds.
In the east the cooli
ng towers of Didcot Power Station, to be demolished some time this year. At the bottom of the hill the clear
line of the canal running where the clay meets the greensand.

 In between there and East Challow lies the site of Cornhill Roman Villa...of which nothing reportedly remains.
One of the walkers was Trevor Hancock, a local historian, whose late mother produced various books on local
history. Trevor was able to give us a quick bit of history and our branch secretary Chris reported that his mother
had been involved in a dig with what was then the Wantage Field C;ub in the 1960s.

 Onwards and around East Challow to the canal at Cornhill Lane, where we examined the flat bridge and the
remains of the original stone work for the lift bridge at this site. In one of Doug's books is a superb picture of
people ice skating here with the bridge in the background.

 From there we continued now westwards towards West Challow, stopping at the Cornhill Ditch (where the
water was flowing nicely in and out of the canal) and West Challow bridges to discuss restoration plans.
We are currently in discussions on obtaining a lease over most of the canal through here. At West Challow
we left the public footpath and joined the permissive path along the towpath to Childrey Bridge.

 The temporary bridge is settled in and awaits our new project manager and myself to move forward on the
plans to replace the infill and culvert with a new bridge. From there the public footpath runs across the fields
to Childrey Wharf. Here we detoured slightly along the usually private part of the canal on which we have a
lease to look at the weir, over which the water was flowing very efficiently. The length of canal to Childrey
New Road is looking to my mind very nice at the moment, fully watered. The resident red kite was absent at
the time, but I had seen it on the test walk. Moorhens were dabbling to and fro and it was good to see the
hedgerow we planted coming on nicely.

 From Childrey New Road  it was up the wide verge towards Childrey again and then across the fields to
Childrey church and thence to the start.

 A very enjoyable walk all round and nice to see some of my stalwart walkers again. I now have a email list of
the regulars so that I can advise them when walks are coming up..