Along the Ridgeway, near Uffington.
4.5 miles (give or take)
A very hungry James.
This walk involves one of my favourite things in the world: a cream tea. On a previous afternoon when I’d escaped the office and gone for a walk on and around the ridgeway, I’d noticed a teapot shaped sign (teapot shaped, guys – teapot shaped !!!) for The Teapot Tearoom on which the magic words “Cream Teas” were written. It pointed down the hill across some fields and said it was under a mile away – it was very difficult not to head off then and there, but I remained strong and made a mental note to go back instead. So one sunny Saturday, armed with a James, I did just that.
We’d not actually done the walk between Wayland’s Smithy and Uffington before, we tend to park at one or the other and go in the opposite direction, so I thought it was high time we did. Just a note, there is only space for two or three cars at Wayland’s itself so if your alternatives are either a) the White Horse carpark which will shorten this walk somewhat, or b) Ashbury Hill which will add a bit on.
This is a very lovely section of the Ridgeway with gorgeous views across fields and into valleys. It’s very gentle in terms of gradient too, and we had a lovely stroll. We very nearly missed Uffington Castle as we’re not used to approaching it from that angle and were far too busy admiring the carpets of buttercups in the adjoining field. Once we’d twigged where we were, however, I started to look out for that glorious teapot sign.
Naturally it was further on than I’d anticipated – although probably not quite as far as it seemed because things you are anxiously looking for invariably aren’t. Eventually I spotted it and we turned off the Ridgeway and started our descent. The hillside to our right feel sharply away affording us beautiful views across Oxfordshire. We were a little bit early, so stopped at the bottom of one of the fields for a sit.
The farm on which the Tearoom is situated also has a camp site and we could see the campers coming and going far below us. There were kites hovering in the valley and a gentle breeze rustling the crops around us. It was really nice just to sit for a while and watch the world go by. We also had a brief game of “What does that cloud look like?”.
We set off again down a narrow track cordoned off from a field of cows (who we naturally said hello to. And by “said hello to”, I mean mooed at). The walk gets much steeper at this point so I had to concentrate on my footing instead of admiring the view. The last few feet down to the road contained steps and at the bottom we found a sign directing us round to the tearoom itself.
Now I grew up in North Devon so I have pretty high standards when it comes to cream teas. The scones must be large and preferably warm, the cream must be clotted, and everything must be plentiful. In the past when attempting a cream tea outside of the West Country, I’ve been presented with tiny scones, jam in those little packs, and (my personal favourite) whipped cream in a shot glass. This cream tea ticked all my boxes and the garden we ate it in was just lovely – it had bunting and everything! – so I was delighted.
We ate every crumb, drained the teapot, and set off once more. In contrast to Newton’s law, what went down unfortunately had to clamber back up and the hill seemed to have made itself even steeper while we were eating. I feel that our walk back to the car definitely cancelled out all calories consumed!