A new sign has been installed by Henley Bridge to mark the end of the Oxfordshire Way, a 68 mile walking path beginning in Bourton-on-the-Water. The plaque was unveiled today by Henley Mayor Sarah Miller at a small ceremony, attended by representatives from Henley Ramblers, Walkers are Welcome Henley, South Oxfordshire District Council, Bourton-on-the-Water Parish Council and Henley Town Council. A corresponding sign has also been installed in Bourton-on-the-Water to note the beginning of the walk.
The idea for the plaque first came about when Kevin Rodd, a keen rambler, walked the Oxfordshire way in 2018. Kevin recalled, “I’m not really into marathons but I quite liked walking as a kid, so I thought I would look into the Oxfordshire Way. I live in Kiddlington, so just north of Oxford, and it goes past where I live so I thought I’d set myself a challenge of doing it.”
Kevin completed the walk in four days, split over two weekends, but couldn’t find a clear finish to the 68 mile path. He said, “I arrived here and I was thinking, where do I get my selfie telling my friends I’d finished this walk? I couldn’t find anywhere to mark the occasion. I thought I should send an email to say, why don’t we mark this as a way to inspire other people to look at it and think, what is that and maybe I should do it. It’s a fantastic walk across the whole of the county. There are some great pubs, and great rolling countryside. It’s very well marked so anyone who is new to walking could definitely give it a go.”
Kevin’s email found its way to Alie Hagedoorn, Secretary for Walkers are Welcome Henley, who helped to turn the idea into a reality. “There were various things to be considered,” Alie explained. “First of all was finding the official start and end point; where should the sign actually be? And then there were discussions with both of the councils, and also Nick Moon who wrote a book on the Oxfordshire Way. We had his opinion on where to best place the sign. We looked at, as well, is whether it would create a nice photo opportunity. For example, here you have the bridge in the background.”
There were a number of further decisions to be made in the making of the sign, such as its design and the durability of materials, but one of the most important obstacles to overcome was funding. Alie took the idea to the Oxfordshire Ramblers (of which she is also a part), who kindly offered to fund the project.
At the unveiling ceremony, Peter Stone (Chair of Walkers are Welcome Henley) gave thanks to the various people and organisations involved, including Henley Town Council, Bourton-on-the-Water Parish Council, SODC, and Oxfordshire Ramblers. Councillor Sarah Miller said, “Congratulations to everyone. I know three years is a while. It’s really lovely to see it now; well done to everyone.”