Hike from Wittenham Clumps to the Bach Centre

Most years a group of practitioners from Holland spend a day walking in the area, ending up with a visit to the Bach Centre (on the way to the pub).

This is their itenerary. Note that you will need a driver to drop you off at the start point and pick you up at the pub - unless you are particularly energetic.

The Dutch Dr Bach walk

Starting at the car park for the Wittenham Clumps nature reserve (see map), you immediately see the only Hornbeam in the area.

You pass the gate and walk up to the trees on top of the southern 'Clump', Castle Hill, being a fort dating from prehistoric times, providing a wide view over the landscape in which Dr Bach often wandered in the early thirties.

Before the grove at the top, turn left and walk around to the back of it. There you can look at the Beech, before walking down on the path to the left. Below, at the edge of the field, you see some Agrimony plants. Move on downwards, with the shrubby wood on your left and the field on your right.

At the bottom turn right along the edge of the wood, then turn left into the wood. At the crossing turn right. In the wood, among others, you see Oak and Sweet Chestnut.

Leaving the wood, you come to open land, and you pass former Lowerhill Farm. There might be a field of rapeseed, which looks like Mustard, but is not.

Before North Farm, turn right, onto an old Roman road lined with hawthorns, some of which have pink blossoms in spring. Take the first path to the left. Follow this track, which curves slightly to the left, until you come to the access road to North Farm.

Cross this road and pass the gate. You follow a part of an old lane to the River Thames with old ash-trees on both sides, and on your right also a hawthorn hedge. Continuing you see old Oak trees, and Wild Rose, and on your left a row of marvellous pollard willows. You are now in the landscape of the Thames Valley, very much appreciated by Dr Bach.

Further down, keep left and follow a small footpath and you will reach the river. On your right, in a part of a naturally filled-in old curve of the river, you see a lot of old willows (not, however, being the willow of Dr Bach, Salix vitellina, which has orange-yellow twigs and is rare anyway).

Turn right over a small bridge, and follow the path along the river. You may see plants of Impatiens and some Wild Rose growing in old willows.

Before reaching the road you pass some other willow species. You will get a good view of the old Shillingford Bridge. Although the word suggests a former ford at this place, it is more likely that this was more upstream, near Shillingford village.

At the Shillingford Hotel you turn right and walk along the asphalt road leading up out of the valley of the Thames, until you reach the Brightwell Vineyard where in spring you can see the tiny Vine flowers. You could have arranged (in advance) a stop here for tea or coffee.

After seeing the vineyard you return to the bridge and turn left at the hotel onto the tarmac road to the North Farm. In the grove on your left you can see some young Larches and an Aspen.

After about 150 metres you take a steep climbing path between stinging nettles and other weeds. At the top you reach a large field, through which runs a public footpath (even if it is sometimes ploughed up with the rest of the field). A telephone pole shows you the direction. Looking to the right, along the edge you see some marvellous old Oak trees, a species that is characteristic of the English landscape.

When the footpath ends on a cart-track, you turn left, and move on until you reach the corner of a piece of land planted with trees. The pines here are Austrian pines, not the Pine (Pinus sylvestris) of Dr Bach – but that one is soon to be seen.

Continue your walk on the bridle way, a former sheep track, with orchards on your left and open land on your right, at first. Watch out for Sweet Chestnut, Pine, Oak and Beech.

The path becomes a sunken road, and about halfway down you will see some Elm and a group of Cherry Plum trees, whose white flowers appear in early spring; in summer you may see small cherry plums hanging there.

Near the bottom of the sunken road there is a new white building on your right. Cross the main asphalt road (please be careful!) and then move on to the right, on a part of the old road from Wallingford. Near the telephone pole you see among others Agrimony, White Chestnut, Beech and a big Holly tree.

After about 10 metres you turn left onto a little path, heading to the village of Brightwell-cum-Sotwell.

After some 200 metres you see on your right the house named Mount Vernon, where Dr Bach spent the last years of his life, and which is still the home of the Dr Edward Bach Centre.

In the garden there are many Bach remedy plants to be seen, including Aspen, Honeysuckle, and many herbaceous plants, such as Star of Bethlehem, Vervain, Rock Rose, Cerato, Agrimony, Mimulus, Chicory and Impatiens, not all flowering at the same time of course. Maybe you will also see Wild Oat and Water Violet.

Nearly all the flowers for preparing Bach remedies can be found in the garden or within a few miles of the Centre.