Walk 533 - Silchester, Bramley and Pamber Forest
Some pygmy goats at the farm near Barefoot's House.
Saturday 6th August was a warm, dry, sunny day. Twelve people and a dog met up in the English Heritage car park by the remains of the Roman town of Calleva Atrebatum, near Silchester. We have led several walks from this location, but this 10½ mile walk is a new one, created by Pat and is loosely based on the Silchester Trail, but extended to include Pamber Forest.
We started by crossing the Roman Town to the 12th century church of St Mary, which we looked inside, and then made our way to the Roman Amphitheatre. Next, we joined the Brenda Parker Way heading south-east and left it again at Clapper's Farm. Footpaths through farmland took us to the village of Bramley, at one point passing a farm with some brown and white pygmy goats.
Us, crossing some farmland at Latchmere Green.
We stopped at the Bramley Village Bakery for coffee and cake. I had a Chelsea bun and a cappuccino. Suitably refreshed, we crossed the local playing field and followed a lane towards a large electricity substation, hidden in Bramley Frith Wood. The substation was practically invisible as we followed a footpath through the wood.
Leaving the woodland, we crossed open farmland to Latchmere Green and then Little London. Here we stopped for our picnic lunch at the shaded end of a large field.
After lunch, we crossed the field and entered Pamber Forest at King's Hogsty Copse. We followed a very long and very straight path through the forest, and speculated whether it had once been a Roman road.
Some horses and traps, parked outside the pub in Silchester.
After about a mile, we left the straight footpath at Beggar's Bridge Copse and re-joined the Brenda Parker Way. This took us down to Silchester Brook, which was unusually dry, due to the recent long dry spell we've had. We didn't even need to use the boardwalks or bridges.
An uphill stretch of path took us through Silchester Common and brought us to Silchester village, close to the Calleva Arms pub. Outside the pub, a number of horses and traps were parked. After a show of hands, it seemed most of us wanted to stop for a drink. The few that didn't were given details of how to complete the last mile of the walk, which was quite straightforward. They messaged us once they'd reached the car park as we were finishing our drinks and about to follow them. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Pat for leading this walk.
Walk 532 - Hurley and Burchett's Green
Part of the Knowl Hill Bridleway Circuit near Ashley Hill.
Eleven of us met up in Hurley village car park on Sunday 31st July for an 8 mile walk that would include Ashley Hill, Burchett's Green and a bit of the Thames Path. The day was warm and humid, but with a pleasant breeze.
The walk started by joining the Thames Path heading west out of Hurley. This we followed until we reached Frogmill Farm, where we turned south and began a gentle but prolonged ascent along a deep, trench-like path. We branched off onto the Knowl Hill Bridleway Circuit where a much flatter forestry path took us south-east through mixed woodland.
Part of the Chiltern Way near Burchett's Green.
The last of the uphill stretch became much steeper as we reached the top of Ashley Hill. Now a gentle downhill stretch brought us out of the woodland on the Chiltern Way and onto land owned by the Berkshire College of Agriculture. This took us to the village of Birchett's Green.
Turning north-west, we headed across fields into the grounds of the Berkshire College of Agriculture, passing the grandiose Hall Place before weaving our way through the more functional looking complex of buildings that make up most of the college.
A picnic table at the edge of High Wood on Prospect Hill.
On previous walks through the college, we were able to see their menagerie of exotic animals, but these are now inaccessible to the public unless you pay to visit their zoo. I suppose the college needs to make a bit of extra money this way to help support itself. We followed the prescribed route through the college.
We headed north up to the High Wood on top of Prospect Hill. Some way along a footpath there was a large picnic table overlooking the land to the north of the hill, with views of Hurley and Danesfield House on the other side of the river. The table wasn't quite large enough for all eleven of us to sit around, so some of us found some fallen branches to sit on while we had our picnic lunch.
The approach to Hurley Lock on the River Thames.
After lunch, we descended the short but steep footpath down to Hurley. Following the road into the village, we took a footpath to the east and joined the Thames Path at Hurleyford Park. We followed the river to Hurley Lock. The path crossed part of the river on a large footbridge to an island that separates the lock and the weir.
There is a tea shop by the lock, which also sells ice creams. Ice cream seemed very desirable at this stage in the walk as we'd covered seven and a half miles by now and the day was heating up. They were closed! Sue, our walk leader, had included an ice cream stop in her walk description, so there were a few disappointed faces.
Crossing back on another footbridge, we were soon back in Hurley village, where we'd started. See our route on Google Maps. Luckily, the village shop had an excellent selection of ice creams on offer, so Sue's reputation was saved.
Thank you to Sue for leading this walk.
Walk 529 - Old Windsor and Runnymede
The Air Forces Memorial on Coopers Hill.
The temperatures on Sunday 10th July were set to reach nearly 30°C, which is a bit too hot for some folk, but Kathy had ten people (including a couple of visitors from other groups) join her for an interesting walk around Old Windsor and Runnymede.
Starting from the recreation ground in Old Windsor, the route joined the Thames Path heading southward, to Runnymede - with an ice cream stop along the way.
Taking a quick sit down at The Jurors chairs.
Then gently up Copers Hill to the Air Forces Memorial, which is dedicated to some 20,456 men and women from the air forces of the British Empire who were lost in air and other operations during World War II.
Stopping here for a look around, it has commanding views over the Thames and Runnymede and made a good spot for the lunch break, before heading off to see the John F Kennedy Memorial and then the Magna Carta Memorial.
The Hay Sculptured Village near the National Trust Tea Rooms.
Next stop was The Jurors, an art installation made up of twelve high-backed bronze chairs, erected in 2015 to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the signing of the Magna Carta. A good spot for a group photo.
After that, there was a stop at the National Trust Tea Rooms. Not far from the tea rooms was another recent art installation - the Hay Sculptured Village. The NT Artists in Residence, Willow Twisters, collaborated with local families and diverse community groups to build a family interpretation experience through willow sculpture.
Finally, it was a mile or so back to the recreation ground. Plenty of drink-stops and a couple of ice cream stops were included in the walk, to help cope with the heat.
Thank you to Kathy for leading this walk and providing the photos.
Walk 528 - Goring and Great Chalk Woods - evening walk
At the top of Hattonhill Shaw in Hartslock Nature Reserve.
On Wednesday 6th July, six hardy souls headed off for a 4½ mile walk on a balmy summer's evening. The start was a little delayed due to a train delay but with plenty of light this was not a real concern.
Walking towards the Great Chalk Woods provided excellent views of the river valley and we had a quick stop near the cemetery to learn a little about Arthur Harris - a major player in planning Allied bombing raids of Germany in WWII. We then entered the Great Chalk Woods, which contain a mixture of mature Beech and Conifers.
A view of the Thames from Hattonhill Shaw in Hartslock Nature Reserve.
These woods are privately owned but are managed for nature conservation.
Leaving the woods and crossing a field we encountered some very curious horses, which were intent on checking out the contents of our back packs.
We then descended down to the Thames Path via the Hartslock Nature Reserve and then to the actual Thames River for a very pleasant stroll before entering Goring, passing the late George Michael's house and Goring Mill.
Thank you to Ian for leading this walk and writing it up.
Walk 527 - Hazeley Heath, Mattingley and West Green
Looking at the WWII tank ramp on Hazeley Heath.
Fifteen people turned up at Hartley Wintney on Sunday 3rd July for an 8¼ mile walk I'd made up out of previous walks in the area. We began with a slightly urban walk through a housing estate in Hartley Wintney, before emerging on to Hazeley Heath.
Hazeley Heath is a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and open access land, but during the second world war, parts of it were used for military training. Not much evidence remains except for a few concrete structures such as the tank ramp. I'm not sure how it was used, but this concrete ramp is built into the side of a steep hill. There are occasional bits of tank track to be found in the same area.
Standing in front of the gatehouse of Bramshill House.
Carrying on through the heath, we followed a footpath along the north-eastern boundary, which gave occasional views of Bramshill House - a huge Jacobean mansion that until recently has been home to a Police training college. Many ghosts are reputed to haunt the old house, including that of a bride who accidentally locked herself in a chest on her wedding night and wasn't found until fifty years later!
Picnic lunch in the grounds of Mattingley church.
Crossing the the B3011 that runs through the heath, we made our way to Hazeley Heath Cottage, where we left the heath to cross farm land. Some inquisitive bullocks approached us on Hazeley Bottom Farm, so we stayed together as a tight group as we crossed the field. The bullocks did the usual thing of only getting within about 10 metres before deciding to run away. Bullocks are quite inquisitive but not very brave.
Passing a field or barley and wheat on White Knights Farm.
We stopped for our picnic lunch in the grounds of Mattigley Church, a beautiful 15th century timber-framed building. The trees in the grounds provided welcome shade.
After lunch, we passed the picturesque Dipley Mill and then West Green House. Crossing West Green Common, we made our way back to Hazeley Heath through farmland. Part of this route has always been very muddy, even in summer months, but Hampshire Countryside Service have recently built a useful boardwalk over this area.
We took a different route from the heath back into Hartley Wintney to add variety. See our route on Google Maps. After the walk, some of the group went home while a few of us went for refreshment at The Waggon and Horses pub.
Thank you to Carol, Elise and Charlotte for taking these pictures while I (Rob) got on with leading the walk.