This is a 12 mile walk, with many places where it is possible to shorten the walk. Alternatively, you can arrange to get picked up by car on the Lambourn road. The walk is taken quite leisurely, starting at 8.30am and aiming to be back at the Pub before it closes at 3pm. That’s less than 2 miles per hour.
The Map of the Bounds Walk is a Google Map showing both the route of the walk (in blue) and the boundaries of the Parish (red). You can see that the walk does not follow the boundary exactly because in most places it is impassable. Existing paths are followed, which is why in a couple of places the walk briefly goes outside the parish boundary. The map can be zoomed in for more detail. We do the walk anti-clockwise, going up the hill to the Ridgeway to start with.
The northern part of the Parish (in the vale) extends right up to Shrivenham. The paths in this part of the Parish are very poor and in any event it is dangerous to cross the railway line. The north west corner is particularly difficult – an attempt was made to walk this in a previous year and it wasn’t a pleasant experience. There are no clear paths and the walkers ended up scrambling through undergrowth and hedges. Thus the walk has been shortened and is not as extensive in the north of the Parish as in the South.
There is nowhere to get water or food en route, so make sure you bring along enough water for the day and something to snack on. Stops are made at least half a dozen times, just to take a break and to enjoy the views.
Beating the Bounds often took place near the first of May and was used to confirm the Parish boundaries. The first recorded account of a walk around the Parish of Ashbury is Abbot Beere’s Terrier and Peramabulation of 1517. Abbot Beere was the Abbot of Glastonbury who owned the Parish at the time. The description of the walk, in Latin, also mentions those that walked the boundaries with him: Father Thomas Sutton, Thomas Percy, Nicolas Smyth, John Besseley, Thomas Horton, Robert Horton, & John Yong of Ashbury, and Ricard Eyre, Robert Boyetonn, John Ffrenshe, William Bunce & Alexander Wilmott of Kingston Winslow.