The river Evenlode is perhaps overshadowed by its neighbour, the Windrush, but for the appreciative walker, it has so much to offer. This walking route is only around two and a half miles long and, apart from a short section on a quiet road to begin with, is entirely on footpaths. It takes in Bruern Abbey, a riverside path and a section of the Oxfordshire Way. After a wet spell of weather, this last section can be very muddy – ideal for children? – so walkers either need boots or they can take the detour indicated on the sketch map.
The road from Milton down towards the Bruern level crossing provides plenty of opportunity for roadside parking. From the parking place, the route goes down the road, passing the imposing Abbey at Bruern with, on the opposite side of the road, the exclusive holiday properties of Bruern Courtyard.
After a twist in the road, walkers cross the river and its floodplain and, approaching the level crossing, eyes are drawn to the old signal box on the left. The spy hole through which the signalman spotted oncoming trains can be seen high up in the roof.
Continuing up the road for around a further 200 metres, walkers then turn left beside a footpath sign, heading straight across the field towards a gap in the line of conifers at the far side. Once through the gap, the path goes virtually straight across and slightly down towards the rail line, heading for a very tumbledown gate. Then follow parallel to the line until a metal gate indicating a crossing point for pedestrians.
Head slightly right across the next field, seeing then using either of two very low bridges before you meet the track down from the nearby railway bridge. Turn left and in a short time you will use a solid bridge that crosses the river. Turn left, following the bank. Where the path takes a sharp left turn beside the river, lookout for evidence that this is a wild swimming place, ideal on a perfect day. The path leaves the river bank and climbs gently into the woods where you join the Oxfordshire Way.
Turn left and the clear bridleway can be followed all the way back to the road above Bruern Abbey. If walkers want to avoid this often muddy path, a right turn leaves the Way after only about 100 metres and can be followed, after crossing a track, into the eye-catching bluebell woods and, at a junction in the paths beside a bench, turn left and re-join the road; you’ve made it.
February – March 2022