If you want just one day out on Route 66, it has to be Faringdon. Get off in the Market Place (the bus should stop here for a few minutes, so there’s plenty of time). Incidentally, the 17th-century market hall might suggest a wide array of tea shops, but after 5.30pm and on Sundays there is very little open.
The main attraction here is Faringdon Folly. Built in 1935 by Lord Berners, the then owner of Faringdon House, for his young friend Robert Heber Percy, it is a monument to British eccentricity, and has some of the best views in Oxfordshire. The last folly to be built in England, it is open on the first Sunday and bank holidays. Even if the peculiar building is closed, the views from the site are breathtaking.
Walk up towards the church and along Church Street. At the end of the churchyard there are the old gatehouses belonging to the original Faringdon House, and Faringdon House can be seen through a hole in the north wall. The large stone house opposite was the original vicarage, now converted to flats. Follow this road until it becomes a footpath, with magnificent views of the Thames Valley opening up to the left. You can see the folly on your right, and the route, which is well described in the Oxfordshire County Council footpath leaflet, takes two right turns, the first being just past Grove Lodge, a house with a large Skyflash missile in the garden, which is difficult to miss. We bought some flour from the owner, Ian Smith, who also owns Venn Mill near Wantage.
The view from the top of the folly is described in fascinating detail on the website www.faringdonfolly.org. The Cotswold ridge stretches to Rissington, and below is Thames Valley, from the source beyond Lechlade to Brize Norton airfield and Shipton-on-Cherwell cement works, then Boars Hill. On the other side are the Chilterns and the Berkshire Downs. Uffington White Horse can just be seen as a squiggle on the ground.
Walking straight down to the town, another circular walk is available to Badbury Hill, a National Trust wood famous for bluebells, where there is a satisfying view back to the folly. The route passes the 13th-century tithe barn at Great Coxwell, with its original timber beams. We skipped the final part of the circular route and walked on a tarmac path from Coxwell to Faringdon Golf Course, and a welcome bus stop bearing the number 66.
For Folly circular walk, click here: cw-faringdon-1
For Badbury Hill and Coxwell walk, click here: cw-faringdon-2
The Faringdon circular walks are waymarked and described in Oxfordshire County Council leaflets and at www.oxfordshire.gov.uk/walksandrides
Faringdon Folly is open on August 7 and 29. <www.faringdonfolly.org.uk>