Keen walker Karl Gay says you should try out the Shakespeare Way

The roads are awash, the fields and towpaths submerged after Oxford’s wettest month on record. It seems ambitious to consider stepping out for an invigorating walk through the Oxfordshire countryside but one day soon the rain will stop, or at the very least pause long enough to venture beyond the end of the driveway.

The dove really will show up soon with its twig.

In anticipation of drier times it is possible perhaps to plan a short amble into what will soon become spring.

Even an occasional Oxford walker will be drawn to the river and will be aware of the Thames Trail, but another relatively new route is at our doorstep.

The Shakespeare’s Way passes straight through Oxford, and while it touches the waterways it purposefully steers us through areas less often encountered. Opened in 2006, The Shakespeare’s Way was devised to parody the known journeys of The Bard who often travelled between Stratford-upon-Avon and the Globe Theatre in London.

The emphasis of this 146-mile walk, however, is on the inspiration of the countryside rather than an accurate re-treading of his footsteps.

As is particularly apparent at the London end of the walk, Shakespeare could not, for instance have followed the towpath of the Grand Union Canal, having preceded it by more than 200 years.

Nevertheless, Oxford enjoys more than a walk-on role; Shakespeare’s visits to the city are well documented, as are his numerous stays with his friend John Davenant at the Crown Tavern.

The onset of modern life has rendered much of his original route impassable or mundane. But if he were making his journey today, it is not difficult to imagine that he might have chosen the more harmonious modern interpretation.

For Oxford dwellers, a half-day sample of this relatively easy going walk can begin by heading north along the Oxford Canal, past the swish development of the former Lucy’s Eagle ironworks and keep going.

The transition to countryside arrives at Duke’s Lock whereupon the marked trail heads out over the fields, ducking into the older fringes of Yarnton before again treading the grassy path.

If you time it right, normally April and May, the stunning bluebells of Burleigh Wood will accompany you to Bladon.

No visit to the village is complete without a pause at the churchyard and the resting place of Winston Churchill.

From Bladon the walk follows naturally to Woodstock where one can refresh or press on into the magnificent Blenheim Park.

For those who don’t relish the return walk, the S3 bus will take you swiftly back home.

It may not actually be the route that Shakespeare took but it is certainly preferable to walking the traffic-ridden roads of our modern times.