- About Us
- Our Work
- Related Features
- How to Help Us
- Pub Walks
Hook Norton lies five miles north east of Chipping Norton, 10 miles from Banbury and close to a branch of the River Swere, which stems from a spring at the edge of Deddington. It is because of springs such as this, which are abundant in this part of Oxfordshire, that Hook Norton is able to boast a fine brewery. Without a plentiful supply of fresh spring water there would be no real ale.
Visitors are aware that they are approaching Hook Norton – fondly known as Hooky by those who know and love it – when they see a little brown beer barrel on the road-signs and they know they have arrived when an aromatic fragrance of roasted malt begins to tantalise their nostrils.
Although Hook Norton’s imposing Victorian brewery stands on the northern edge of the village, its presence dominates the entire village. Its magnificent building, created from local iron stone, is considered one of the finest examples of a Victorian tower brewery in the country, and is certainly worth a visit. The brewery’s Visitor Centre opened in 1990, in the original malting used by John Harris who established the brewery more than 150 years ago. It is the starting point for brewery tours that take place every day but Sunday.
There are three Hook Norton Pubs in the village, including the Pear Tree which stands next to Brewery Lane. This pretty 18th century pub, which acts as the brewery tap, is an excellent place to begin or finish your walk.
Head for the countryside by turning left after leaving the pub and then make for the church, turning right into Middle Hill which links with Park Road. You now need to cross a small bridge which may be covered with so much foliage it is hardly visible, so look for a red pillar box and a wooden bench and turn left at that point. This road will lead you past a row of bungalows on your left and then a waymarker on the right which guides you out of the village and towards the tall ivy-clad remains of the old railway viaduct, which once carried Great Western trains across the valley.
You are now walking a well-worn path that will take you past Park Farm on the left and then a small wooded area and wooden gate. If you reach the ford you have gone too far and should head left up the bank and through the trees to a field and a well-worn track which will take you to a small bridge spanning a little stream, with Manor Farm on your left. It is here that you will probably encounter a large herd of very contented cows sitting somnolently under the trees. Head towards the farm buildings, climbing over an electric fence as you approach the farm, which has a safe spot covered with rubber tubing for walkers to pass without getting an electric shock. Waymarkers on farm buildings now direct you to a small path between two barns, and then into a tangled woody area and a clapped out wooden bridge that takes you back over the stream. From here on its dead easy as the path leading back to Hook Norton is well marked and fenced off in parts. Just be careful when you arrive at the next electric fence as its safe crossing point covered with tubing is not very easy to spot. After passing a couple of fields of sheep you will notice the distant church tower emerging majestically through the trees. Keep this in your sight and you will be back at the Pear Tree pub in no time at all. Now all you have to do is decide which of the brewery’s real ales to try before going home.