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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

Cropredy: A slice of Oxfordshire beauty

If you are looking for a picture-perfect slice of the English countryside, then Cropredy is it.

This tiny village is nestled away on the border of the Cotswolds, just over 30 miles north of Oxford.

S and I discovered it quite by chance while we were on holiday in neighbouring Banbury last week and were both instantly in love.

We were staying about a 5 minute drive from Cropredy, just north of neighbouring Banury, but were utterly unaware of the delightful little village’s existence. It popped up on a map as S was looking for a place to go for a walk; she spotted a large park next to a canal and we set off in the afternoon sun.

The park in question turned out to be a cricket pitch, which rather foiled our walking plans there, but the route had taken us through Cropredy and even a momentary glance had inspired us.

We headed down the road from the cricket club and took a left up the canal. It was, to borrow from Wind in the Willows, the perfect day for messing about in boats. And that is just what people were doing.

All up the banks were canal boats, moored up with people inside cooking or reading or simply whiling the day away. Sometimes there is reportedly a nice market-style shop which operates out of one of the boats. But for our visit the bank was peacefully resting in the late summer sun.

As we looped back to the village, we spotted a café on the far side of the bank. Cropredy boasts a striking classic village store, The Bridge Store, and by crossing the aforementioned bridge we came to the café, which consisted of a van serving drinks and food, with tables set up by the waterside. What more could we want?

Once refreshed, we headed out round our newfound favourite village. Cropredy is home not just to some beautiful village life, but also to the best road name in the country.

It comes from the remains of a monument in the road, which looks like a cup and saucer. Sort of. From the right angle.

The village is also home to a pub named after my dad’s old Oxford college, which apparently owned swathes of land in the area.

However, as much as the Brasenose Arms did give us great country pub vibes, we pipped for the Red Lion; tucked away next to St Mary the Virgin church, it offered vegan fare and a nice selection of beers.

The village also offered this delight, which might be the most 'English country village' thing I have ever seen. I loved it.

Our final stop on our walking tour of Cropredy took us back to the canal. Standing on a bridge above one of the locks we watched people work the gates and try to steer their boats straight and true – all while seriously contemplating a future move deeper into the countryside.

Cropredy may well ring a bell to a few of you. It hosts the Fairport Convention Festival, named for the band who opened for Led Zepplin and founded the event. Two of the members, fiddler Dave Swarbrick and bassist Dave Pegg, grew up in Cropredy and it was there they decided to do their farewell concert a subsequent reunion concert turned into the festival which today draws about 20,000 people to the village.

Anyone fancy next year’s event? Put August 12-14 in the diary.

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