On a cold, frosty morning during that period between Boxing Day and New Years Eve where everyone is full of cheese and no one knows what day of the week it is, we decided to head out early to have ourselves a mini breakfast adventure. We packed our bag with rolled oats, hot drinks, and jam sandwiches aplenty, donned more layers than an onion and headed out into the frosty fog to venture to ‘The Clumps’.
Wittenham Clumps are a well-known landmark in South Oxfordshire: a pair of wooded chalk hills rising above the flat landscape, topped with beech trees that are thought to be the oldest beech tree plantings in the England. One of the Clumps, named ‘Castle Hill’ is also the site of an iron age fort, and from the Clumps is a stunning view over the rolling hills of Oxfordshire. Although Wittenham Clumps are only a short drive away from us, this was actually the first time we had ventured here as a family, but needless to say, we will be back again very soon!
Upon arrival at the car park at 8:30am we were surprised to see more than twenty other cars already, especially considering that it was still pretty early, it was minus 3oC, and the frosty fog was still hanging over the landscape, barely revealing the stunning views across the county. However, it soon became clear to us that this was one of the preferred locations to take your four-legged friend for a walk, as during our time here, happy hounds emerged from just about every direction. This is one stunning locations to be a pooch on (and off) the leash.
After wrapping ourselves up we proceeded through the gate and commenced our December Breakfast Expedition. The walk to the top of the highest hill, aptly named Round Hill (120m) took about 15minutes, although if it was not for Oskar’s random words of wisdom about cows that don’t moo we would probably have made it in half that time. It’s not far at all to the top, but there’s plenty to explore on and around the Clumps. The top of the hill is where you find the actual clump (the cluster of beech trees is what the ‘clump’ actually refers to, rather than the hill itself). By the time we reached the top, the sun has started to burn through the frosty fog and we were afforded a beautiful 360-degree view across the Thames Valley. Just stunning.
After taking in the view we decided to make use of one of the available benches for our oat-deluxe rather than rolling out a blanket on the still frozen soil. We spread out our waterproofs (to keep our derrières dry) and indulged in our hot and delicious porridge; 1part rolled oats to 1 part hot milk from the flask, add a little sprinkle of raisins, dried apricots and a handful of nuts and you are set to go. Yummy!
About halfway through our porridge breakfast, Oskar caught the first glimpse of the herd of cattle that graze across the entire site and so began the endless choruses of “Old MacDonald”. Bless. However, luckily we managed to distract Oskar from his mission of trying to run down to the cows so he could pat them…. Because indeed most of these “cows” were in fact rather massive, hairy bulls!
Post-breakfast we decided to further explore the area and ‘descended’ via a short path leading us past the second ‘clump’ – the 110m Castle Hill – before following the u-turn path that took us back round the clump on a raised ridge, and all the way back round to the car park.
It was such an uplifting morning, which reminded us how a short and simple adventure can put a spring in your step for the whole day. It was all about just getting outside and enjoying the simple pleasures – sun on the face, frosty breath, beautiful views and shared experiences. x
Information about Wittenham Clumps including useful historical facts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wittenham_Clumps
The Clumps are maintained by the amazing Earth Trust and you can read more about them and their work here: (also contains a very useful interactive map of the area)http://www.earthtrust.org.uk/Places/at-little-wittenham/Earth-Trust-Centre.aspx
There is no entry fee and parking is complimentary too (enough space for approximately 30-odd cars