Fragrant, sun-soaked and teeming with birds and flowers, the Aston Rowant Nature Reserve is magical in so many ways. It lies in the Chiltern Hills, and is actually designated as an Area of Oustanding Beauty. We spent the better part of a day walking through the reserve, armed only with a tiny PDF map on our phones, a camera, two sandwiches and a bottle of sunscreen.
My husband, Darius, and I both enjoy nature trails. One of our favourite things to do every spring and summer is to find new places to explore around us. We’re originally from India so the English countryside fascinates us, with its rolling hills, quiet woods and vast, open meadows. We try to get out and about as much as possible if the weather over the weekend is predicted to be good. The forecast said 24 degrees and sunny this time around, and it did not disappoint!
We live in Oxford, so the Aston Rowant Nature Reserve is only a short half-hour drive away from us. It’s best to get there by car, because it’s just off the M40. We parked our car at the Cowleaze Wood Car Park, which is free – bonus! There are loads of parking spaces at the car park, and all the trails branch out from it.
When researching walking routes, I came across a number of circular walks so it took a while to decide which one wanted to do! This reserve is 159 acres, so there is a LOT of ground to cover and you can decide what you want to do depending on how much time or inclination you have.
This is the walk we ended up doing, but I have linked a couple of others down below if you’d like to have a look!
What you’ll see
What I loved about this walk was the constantly changing landscape. One minute we were under tall, shady trees, and the next we were out in open country with sheep grazing right beside us.
There were wildflowers everywhere, including beautiful bluebells that carpeted the forest floor as far as the eye could see.
The trail was easy to follow, and thanks to the long spell of good weather, there were no muddy bits at all. There were also plenty of benches along the way if you fancy a quick rest
We were expecting to see a whole lot of people out and about, but we rarely encountered anyone else on our walk. Not sure whether that’s because the trail wasn’t well known, or it’s just the sheer size of the reserve. It’s probably a combination of the two.
The trail also took us past several farms, where we encountered a couple of curious horses and lots and lots of sheep.
The trail has a few uphill and steep bits, so that’s something to bear in mind. It doesn’t have any stiles, so it’s a great place to take your dog. Although you’ll need a lead because of the livestock roaming everywhere. Even if you don’t end up walking, it’s still a beautiful place to take a picnic basket and spend a summer afternoon. If you do decide to go hiking though, you are in for an absolute treat.
It was easy to feel at peace with the world, walking under the midday sun with no one around us for miles around.
Do you have any nature trails/walks recommendations for me? And what do you like doing over the weekend? Let me know in the comments!