Freeland is an Oxfordshire village, in the green middle of the county, and a fine starting point for a walk; a 17½ mile walk.
There is more to Oxfordshire than the City of Oxford and the Cotswolds. In the midst of it is the most magnificent house and estate: Blenheim. While the Estate is not open for wandering walkers, we can circle round it and indulge in the countryside that it celebrates This is a walk to celebrate freedom and the glories of our land.
We start then in Freeland, and head over the fields the short way to Church Hanborough, and on north-eastward. There is no avoiding the road eventually – if Burleigh Wood were open, that would keep you off, but the public path leads over the River Evenlode (one of the rivers of the Cotswolds) to the road along the southern edge of the Blenheim Estate, and to Bladon, a pretty village.
From here there is a path out to the edge of Kidlington and the Oxford Canal. From here we track the canal towpath northwards beside the waters, as far as a hamlet named Gibraltar – another name redolent of achievement and freedom.
West from here, a straight path leads to Woodstock, Blenheim’s ‘home village’, beside the little River Glynne, and onto the Blenheim Palace estate itself.
The path through the estate runs to the north end of one of the great lakes of the park, and round the Column of Victory, celebrating the feats of arms achieved by the Duke of Marlborough, and on through some of the finest of the grounds.
Emerging into farmland, the path leads to Combe, and south again eventually to Freeland.