Walk 517 - Reading to Pangbourne via Mapledurham
Lawrence explaining about the filming of The Eagle has Landed.
I didn't make it to the walk on Sunday 15th May, but thirteen other people did. Despite the changeable weather, most of the walk avoided the rain.
This ten-mile walk started at Reading railway station and finished at Pangbourne railway station following a route mostly to the north of the River Thames.
Starting from Reading, the route passed through Caversham Court Gardens and Mapledurham, where they stropped for lunch in the grounds of St Margaret's Church. This is where the 1976 second world war film The Eagle has Landed was made. The route continued to Whitchurch-on-Thames and then Pangbourne.
As the weather deteriorated in the afternoon, the pub stop in Pangbourne was abandoned in favour of getting home.
Thank you to Lawrence for leading this walk.
Walk 515 - Pewsey, Pewsey Hill and Pewsey White Horse
Pewsey Hill and Fyfield Down.
Saturday 7th May: After a delay due to a cow on the train line, five of us set off on our trip on the Whitehorse trail. The sun was shining and the walkers were full of energy after dropping into the local bakery whilst waiting for the train. After quickly leaving Pewsey we headed towards Manningford Abbot on footpaths and quiet lanes. First stop was an old mill on the River Avon. The mill is now a very impressive 4 story residence. Next stop was at the little church that was next to the impressive Manor House. We then started our gradual climb to Pewsey Hill with the sight of many new born lambs, including triplets.
The little church at Manningford Manor House.
We then made our way to the Pewsey White horse, one group taking the easy route and another group climbing up the sharp hill to the whitehorse. Lunch was had overlooking the Pewsey Whitehorse and the Pewsey Vales. Wonderful views were enjoyed as we munched our vegemite sandwiches.
The church at Milton Lilbourne.
We then headed towards the long barrow and we had great views of red kites, below us, soaring in the drafts and with the sun highlighting the colour of their plumes. The long barrow was covered in bright purple orchids and fortunately the cows, which like to stand on the barrow, were nowhere to be seen. We then started our descent towards Milton Lilbourne where we checked out the marvellous old manor houses and had a quick visit to the 12th Century church.
After checking out the church we made our way to Pewsey where we finished our walk at the community cafe where we enjoyed our afternoon tea; well worth a visit if you like home made cakes.
Thank you to Ian for leading this walk and writing it up.
Walk 512 - Streatley, Moulsford and the River Thames
Taking a break, sitting by the Thames.
On Sunday 24th April, nine of us gathered at the top of Streatley Hill for a 10 mile walk on a beautiful, sunny day. There was a mix of familiar and new faces. The bright, clear day meant that we were able to enjoy the wide, open views as we strode over the Berkshire downs.
We then descended into the Thames valley at Moulsford for the final third of the walk which was along a very pretty stretch of the Thames.
Yomping up the steep slope of Lardon Chase.
There was an option for a break at the Coppa Club by the bridge at Goring and it was unanimously agreed to drop in for drinks and ice cream.
We found a great table in the shade by the riverside.
The view of Goring and Streatley from the top of Lardon Chase.
Following this stop, we were all so full of energy, we practically bounded up the hill at Lardon Chase to the final (and arguably, best) view of the day.
Some of the newcomers were a bit concerned that they may struggle with the longer distance. However, they found the pace, combined with the occasional stop and beautiful views meant that they barely noticed the distance.
It was a lovely day and I very much enjoyed leading such a friendly, happy group of people.
Thank you to Rosy for leading this walk and writing it up.
Walk 511 - Middle Assendon, Shepherds Green and Bix
Walking through Wellgrove Wood.
On Saturday 23rd April, nine walkers including an assortment of visitors from other groups and some regulars joined us today for this enjoyable walk.
We took the quiet road up to Bix Bottom before turning left to pick up the Chiltern Way just before the ruined St James’s Church. We then headed up through Wellgrove Wood where it was lovely to see the pale green of the freshly emerged leaves on the Beech trees.
We continued on down to Crocker End with its pretty cottages and then walked through Lowercommon and Highmoor Common Woods.
Plenty of bluebells on display at Lower Highmoor.
At Lower Highmoor and Holly Grove woods we saw plenty of bluebells with their wonderful intense blue stretching out amongst the trees.
We took our lunch stop at Shepherd’s Green and then walked through the countryside leading to Greys Court where we stopped briefly.
More bluebells just beyond Greys Court were admired from a distance before progressing through farmland to Bix and Bix Common and before long we reached White Lane and back to the start of our walk where we said our goodbyes. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Julia from leading this walk and for for writing it up.
Walk 510 - Wayfarer's Walk, North Oakley and Hannington
Following the Wayfarer's Walk through Frith Wood.
Easter Monday saw nine of us (eight regulars plus a visitor) enjoying the surprisingly good Bank Holiday weather on a walk around Hannington. We started by following the Wayfarer's Walk heading south-east from the White Hill car park. It was uphill to start with and then downhill from Walkeridge Farm to North Oakley.
Uphill again from Manor Farm to Fremantle Farm and then downhill into Frith Wood, where the bluebells were out and nestled on the woodland floor amongst the wood anemones and even some wild daffodils.
Lunch stop at Warren Bottom Copse.
We left the Wayfarer's Walk as it crossed White Lane, which we followed White Lane to the junction of Hannington Road. This then took us to Warren Bottom Copse and the Welly Boot Corner Walk. The start of this path had an actual wellington boot on the wooden signpost!
There were plenty more bluebells to be seen in this woodland. Emerging from Warren Bottom Copse, we found some long thin logs by the edge of a field where we could sit and eat our packed lunches in the sunshine.
Checking the view from Cottington's Hill.
After lunch we continued to follow the Welly Boot Corner Walk to the picturesque village of Hannington. Crossing the green and passing the church, we took a footpath leading to Meadham Lane, which we followed westward for a short while before heading north on an unnamed lane to Cottington's Hill.
Atop Cottington's Hill is a small caravan park and large television transmitter mast. The mast could be seen from many parts of our route, but it dominated the view as we walked up this lane. The view from Cottington's Hill was quite impressive, with large parts of Berkshire and North Hampshire visible.
It was downhill back to the car park, having covered 14km (8.7 miles) which included 457m (1,500ft) of ascent in total. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Julia for taking the photographs while I led the walk.
Walk 509 - Crazies Hill, Hurley and Culham
Walking through Culham Deer Park.
Sunday 10th April: On what turned out to be a glorious April day, thirteen walkers attended our walk including BWW regulars a potential new member and visitors from neighbouring groups. We set off from Crazies Hill through paths alongside a farm with chickens and Alpacas before reaching Cockpole Green.
We then picked up the Chiltern Way heading through more farmland at Upper Culham and Middle Culham before arriving at Remenham Hill. Stopping for a drink break we all admired the sweeping views of the estate at Culham House and the different herds of deer. The white deer were particularly striking this day!
Walking down to the Thames Path from Culham House.
Continuing through the estate we soon arrived at the Thames Path near Lower Culham Farm where we saw some wonderfully cute lambs that were nestled in the grass with their mothers. On the river we noticed how the Canada Geese were honking loudly and seemed quite insistent for some reason!
Soon we reached Frogmill and noticed some of the interesting riverside dwellings and their gardens as well as impressive views up towards Danesfield House Hotel. Heading along a little further we settled on some convenient riverside benches for our lunch before pressing on towards Hurley lock and turning down into the picturesque Hurley village.
Lambs at Lower Culham Farm.
Some went to explore the church whilst the rest of the group popped into the village shop for ice creams! What a perfect addition on such a lovely day.
After this we continued along Shepherds Lane back towards Frogmill Farm before heading along the path where the Hurley Chalk Pit nature reserve is situated (the site of beautiful rare orchids later on in the year) and saw primroses and signs of delicate cowslips coming into flower.
Turning up towards Juddmont Farms (stud farm) with its immaculate and extensive grass fields we saw some handsome thoroughbred horses who came to greet us. Then, before long we were back at Crazies Hill and said our goodbyes, all agreeing on what an enjoyable walk we had shared. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Julia from leading this walk and for for writing it up.
Walk 508 - Fleet Pond and Pyestock Hill
Standing on a jetty by Fleet Pond.
Having diligently pre-walked each of the walks I've led this year, I led the walk on Sunday 3rd April without first doing a recce. Due to time constraints I was unable to walk through the route beforehand, and in any case, it was a walk I knew well. However, the path from the station to Fleet Pond was closed due to maintenance, which cut off the starting and finishing legs of my planned route. Ooh err!
So we started by walking away from Fleet Pond and into town in order to approach the pond via an urban route. Once we were back on the intended route, we followed the path down the west side of the pond, stopping at one of the jetties to watch the ducks and geese squabbling amongst themselves for dominion over the pond.
Ramblers and dog walkers mingling by Gelvert Bridge.
At the south of the pond, we then followed Fleet Brook - or Gelvert Stream as that section is also called. We crossed it at Gelvert bridge and continued to follow the stream until it reached the Basingstoke Canal. Here we followed the towpath towards Fleet, stopping at Pond Tail to cross into the Forest of Eversley, which confusingly is not near Eversley village.
Crossing heathland, we found a suitable spot for our picnic lunch. Although it was only 7 or 8 °C, the sun was out and the wind was low, so we didn't feel too cold. After lunch we crossed through the forest to Norris Hill, and after crossing the main road and then the canal, through Pyestock Hill. These woodland paths brought us back to Gelvert Bridge. Here we headed off north-east to form a figure-of-eight route.
Heathland on the edge of the Forest of Eversley.
My original route would have brought us back to the station along the northern edge of Fleet Pond, but the path closure meant we needed to traverse the eastern, southern and western edges of the pond before retracing our outward diversion. I certainly felt under pressure while leading seventeen people on a route I was making up as I went along. A couple of wrong turnings added to the already extended mileage, but the varied scenery looked good in the sunny weather. See our route on Google Maps.
Although the last part of our walk was retracing our outward steps, things always look different when going the other way, and a few people at the back of the group got lost. I'm sorry to say I was unaware of this until someone (not the back-marker, who wasn't at the back) pointed out they were missing. Luckily they were found in a matter minutes. All in all, I have to say this wasn't my finest hour as a walk leader, but everyone was very understanding.
Thank you to Julia for providing the photo of us on the jetty.
Walk 507 - Pewsey and the White Horse Trail
On our way to the White Horse hill-figure.
On a bright sunny morning we started our walk from Pewsey Station. The day was certainly a lot better than a quite miserable Friday. After heading along a bridle-path, and across a few fields, we began our steep climb up to the trig point at the top of the ridge. We were greeted with spectacular views across the vales and very little wind.
After catching our breath we then headed along the ridge to Martinsell Hill lookout and further extended views eastwards. Martinsell is an old iron-age fort and the moat like structures were clearly evident, as well as ancient oak and beech trees.
Heading up Martinsell Hill.
After feasting on our snacks we headed off towards Huish Hill and then Gopher Wood before heading north towards the Wansdyke trail.
After lunching at a suitable spot along the footpath (no brambles/nettles and warming sunshine on our backs), we continued our undulating trek before reaching Wansdyke Path. The dyke is a sight to behold and always amazes me at the amount of manpower necessary to build such.
The Kennet and Avon Canal near Wilcot.
We then turned off the dyke and headed to Milk Hill, the highest point on our walk, before descending down past the Alton Barnes White Horse hill-figure and then to Adams Grave, an ancient long barrow.
We continued our downwards trip eventually reaching the Kennet & Avon Canal at Wilcot, which we followed to Pewsey Wharf. It is a particularly pleasant part of the canal. We reached Pewsey Station at 4:05pm, leaving enough time for a quick visit to the Ale Shed in Pewsey.
Listed as a challenging walk, the length ended up at a touch over 14 miles. The weather was very kind, apart for a short snow shower mid afternoon.
Thank you to Ian for leading this walk and writing it up.