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Dornford Lane

Dornford Lane runs due south from Barton Abbey* (SP 454 250) to Woodstock, parallel to the A4260 Banbury-Kidlington road and about half a mile to the west of it.


And it’s a smashing length of drovers’ road.


It becomes seriously old** in nature just south of Upper Dornford Cottages (456 215).  The hedgerow on either side of the path is 15 or 20 foot deep – hawthorn & elder run amok – but that depth was once part of the road, which was 75 foot wide 200 years ago.  You can measure it.


The farmer needs to clear just a tractor’s width nowadays, and after a mile or two not even that: the path narrows to a track only two feet wide through the jungle as it nears Woodstock.


And the reason for Dornford Lane?  Woodstock Palace, later Woodstock Manor, was the king’s magnificent hunting lodge, situated on the land now occupied by Blenheim Palace.  The Barton estate, where the lane begins, produced meat to feed the household of the palace when the Anglo-Saxon, Norman and Tudor kings hunted there.  QED


Forget the history; take the family and the dog for a springtime walk through a lovely piece of England. 


*It was never an abbey; that was a piece of Victorian pomposity.


**The wide bits of lane around New Barn Farm are suspicious.  Probably for pheasant-raising.  When the hedge looks young and there aren't any oaks or ash trees in it, the original hedge has been grubbed up.

Dornford Lane image 1
Old Stretch Starts Here
Dornford Lane image 2
Getting Better
Dornford Lane image 3
Then it narrows
Dornford Lane image 4
Near Woodstock