Walk 467 - Goring
The description in the programme for Ian's walk was "a 10+ mile bush walk", which I think must be Australian for a 12.5 mile walk mostly through woodland. With temperatures rising to the high twenties Celsius on Saturday 17th July, we were grateful for the woodland shade.
Passing through Little Oaken Wood en route to Greenmoor Hill.
Seven of us (five regulars plus two guests) met at the car park behind The Catherine Wheel pub in Goring. We crossed the railway by way of the footbridge in the station, then joined the Chiltern Way as it passed through a very up-market cul-de-sac and a recreation ground before we were out in open countryside. We weren't in the open for long as we soon entered Great Chalk Wood, which was surprisingly muddy, despite the recent warm and dry weather.
Emerging from Blackbird's Bottom (not quite how it sounds) we were back in the open again, crossing a field by the Oratory Prep School. We were back in woodland again by Greenbroom Farm Shop and heading toward Greenmoor Hill. At this point Ian mentioned how difficult it was navigating through woodland and admitted he had recce'd this walk three times and each time the route had turned out differently. Luckily I was able to help out with my GPS receiver.
Crossing the common at Collins End.
We stopped for lunch, sitting on fallen trees at the side of the path, before crossing Deadman's Lane and continuing through more woodland. We were briefly out in the open on the common and Collins End, where we felt the full heat of the afternoon sun. It wasn't long before we were back in the shade as we entered Bottom Wood.
Some road walking was necessary to join the Chiltern Way again near Path Hill. This we followed to Coombe End Farm, where we left the Chiltern Way crossing farmland to Cold Harbour and then back into the shade of Great Chalk Wood.
We bimbled around in the woods until we found the path we had come in on in the morning. We retraced our outgoing path back to Goring. Ian explained the phrase "balloon walk" meaning that the majority of the walk is a circular route, with a common section at the start and finish - the balloon string. Take a look at the shape of our route on Google Maps and make up your own mind.
Thank you to Ian for leading this shady walk.
Walk 466 - Tilford and Crooksbury Common
Descending Crooksbury Hill on our way to The Sands.
There was a slight complication to the walk on Sunday 11th July. One of the leaders was having to self-isolate and she was the one who had the route in an app on her phone. After an unsuccessful attempt to transfer the route from one leader's phone to the other, they tried sending the route to me via email. I was able to print the route as a paper map and so was able to help navigate the route the old fashioned way.
Seven of us, which included three regulars, two not-so-regulars and two guests (and Dylan the dog) met up by the green in Tilford. The walk started by crossing the River Wey and heading north-east into the village. Next we followed Whitmead Lane eastward out of the village and then took a rather muddy byway to Charleshill, where the track met the main road by a pub called The Donkey.
Peeking into Mother Ludlam's Cave while Dylan takes a muddy drink.
More woodland paths led us through Crooksbury Common and then up Crooksbury Hill. It's only 163m (535ft) but the ascent is quite steep - enough to test my asthma! Needless to say, we had a break at the top to catch our breath and admire the view.
Slightly embarrassingly, I led everyone down the wrong path, so we had to go back up the hill to find the right one! This footpath emerged onto the road into The Sands. Again I led everyone in the wrong direction along the road before doing a U-turn. Oh the shame of it! And I'd helped run the walk leaders training day the previous weekend! Anyway, I concentrated a bit more on navigation and a bit less on talking, and the rest of the walk went without error. Back in the countryside, we crossed fields and joined the North Downs Way and then swapped to the Greensand Way.
Standing in the ruins of Waverley Abbey.
This path followed the River Wey to Moor Park Nature Reserve, where we stopped to look at Mother Ludlam's Cave, supposedly once the home of a white witch. Our leader told us the story of Mother Ludlam's cauldron, now residing in Frensham Church.
Next stop was the remains of Waverley Abbey, which was the first Cistercian abbey in England, founded in 1128. It's had a tough history, being severely damaged by flood, then King John confiscated all of the Cistercian Order's property after a dispute with the Pope, and finally there was King Henry VIII's Dissolution of the Monasteries. We stopped here to eat our packed lunches and then explore the ruins.
Another mile or so of footpaths got us back to Tilford, where there was a cricket match being played on the green. How civilised. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Kathy for leading this walk without her usual co-leader.
Walk 465 - Nettlebed Estate
Stopping in Bromsden Farm to admire the statue.
On Saturday 10th July, Tim led a 10-mile walk for us, exploring the Nettlebed Estate. The early morning rain had finished by the time eight of us (including four guests) assembled outside the Red Lion pub in Rotherfield Peppard. After the usual introductory speech from the leader, we set off in the direction of Shepherd's Green.
A few narrow, tree-lined paths brought us to the edge of Shepherd's Green and then it was more open footpaths through farmland to Bromsden Farm. Here we stopped to admire a statue of a horseman, incongruously standing in a field.
Statue of a Horseman and Bromsden Farm.
Rumour has it, that this fibreglass statue was a prop used on the James Bond film "Golden Eye". Apparently, it once sported Pegasus-like wings. [Information courtesy of Mark Percy.] I shall look out for it when I next watch that film.
A curved route took us through woodland to Lower Highmoor and the Nettlebed Estate. Then crossing a field of oats brought us to Nettlebed where we were confronted by a farm shop and cafe called The Cheese Shed.
The Cheese Shed farm shop and cafe.
We opted to have our packed lunches first and then stop there for coffee and cake. The open-sided barn with spacious seating inside and out was eminently suitable for a mixed party such as ours in these pandemic times.
The return route passed through the woodland of Devil's Hill and Nott Wood, the open fields of Newnhamhill Farm, then woodland again through Bear Wood and Ovey Wood. Finally, Greatbottom Wood and Littlebottom Wood brought us back to the starting point of the walk. See our route on Google Maps.
During the second part of the walk, the leader realised he didn't have his car keys with him. We've all had that sinking feeling at sometime, so we were all sympathetic. Quite surprisingly, when we got back to the cars, the leader discovered his keys - still in the ignition of his unlocked car!
Thank you to Tim for leading this walk.
Walk 464 - Walk Leader Training Day
A small group of us met up in Pangbourne on Sunday 11th July for a "Walk Leader Training Day".
Some useful equipment for planning and leading walks.
We have a several members of our group who would like to lead walks for us, but don't feel quite ready yet. This event was designed to help people learn a few tricks of the trade plus help improve navigational skills. I'd printed off some maps of the area, along with some useful information sheets for everyone, and Lee directed the proceedings. He's done a few events like this before.
Each of the participants took turns in leading a section of the walk. After identifying where they were and being told where we needed to go, it was up to them to determine the route. There were frequent stops for discussion about how to deal with the types of situation likely to occur when walking in these parts. A pub-stop was nicely timed to coincide with our only rain shower.
Although we'd only walked about 6 miles in four hours, everyone said they'd enjoyed the event and had learned a useful amount from it. We are planning to run a similar event in November, as several people told me they'd wanted to go to this one but were available.
Thank you to Lee for leading this event.
Walk 463 - Hungerford Common and Lower Green
A woodland path near Templeton.
On Saturday 3rd July, Ian led another one of his Ten Mile Walks. (This one was eleven miles long.) The walk got off to a delayed start and those of us who drove to the walk were stuck in a traffic jam and those who arrived by train were on a delayed service. Anyway, we all made it there and we only started about 20 minutes later than planned.
We left Hungerford railway station and followed Park Street into Hungerford Park. Dodging the cow pats, we crossed the park and joined a footpath heading south-east for about a mile, to Templeton Stud. A number of paths through woods and fields brought us out at Lower Green.
An impressive tree-house between Lower Green and Inkpen.
Due to our late start, it was already lunchtime and the green offered us benches under a tree and a felled tree trunk to sit on for our picnic lunch. While we ate, we saw a man painting the red telephone box on the corner of the green. Like many phone boxes nowadays, it had been decommissioned and re-purposed as a small library. We stopped for a chat with the man before continuing our walk.
The plan was to visit St Michael's Church on our way out of Lower Green, however, an accidental detour was made and we headed towards Inkpen. It was a nice route, with boardwalks to keep us out of the mud, and we passed a magnificent tree-house before the walk leader realised he hadn't seen any of these things on the pre-walk. On reaching Manor Farm, we made a U-turn and headed back into Lower Green.
A tree-line avenue on the Prosperous Estate.
After looking at St Michael's church (exterior only, as it was locked) we headed west towards Mount Prosperous. (It wasn't a mountain.) We entered the Prosperous Estate along a tree-lined avenue which passed a walled garden. It was a pleasant surprise to find that the owners had provided public access to some steps and a viewing platform, which allowed us to see into the walled garden. It was very impressive.
The walled garden belonged to a house, and the house had once belonged to Jethro Tull. That's the agriculturalist (1674-1741) not the progressive rock band.
A walled garden on the Prosperous Estate.
Leaving Mount Prosperous, we headed north-west toward the Stype Estate, where we had been on one of Ian's previous walks. This time we didn't follow the Long Walk but instead turned north and made our way through farmland for a couple of miles back to the edge of Hungerford. A bit of urban walking got us through the town and back to the railway station. See our route on Google Maps.
Another enjoyable and feature-filled walk from Ian, and despite the pessimistic weather forecast, the rain held off until just after the walk had finished. Those waiting for the train home, did so at a nearby pub.
Thank you to Ian for leading this walk.