Walk 611 - Pangbourne, Sulham and Little Heath
Following the River Pang, heading south out of Pangbourne.
On Sunday 19th November, we had our Annual General Meeting, where we elect a new committee to run the Berkshire Weekend Walkers. The day started with a six mile walk from Pangbourne. Nineteen of us (including two newcomers, trying us out) met up in the village hall car park.
This would have been a repeat of the walk I led for the previous AGM, but the recent prolonged period of wet weather meant parts of the original route were flooded and impassable. So a modified route had to be put together in a hurry.
Stopping at the crossroads in Sulham Wood.
We walked through the village and took the small lane next to W H Smith called The Moors. This became a footpath that took us out onto Pangbourne moors, initially following the River Pang and then crossing some waterlogged fields to Sulham Lane.
Everything seemed even wetter than it did during the pre-walk a fortnight ago. Soon we were climbing the steep slope into Sulham Wood and then into Mosshall Wood.
On the edge of Mosshall Wood.
There were far more autumn leaves on the paths since the pre-walk, and those still on the trees had turned red, yellow and brown, providing a very colourful canopy.
Leaving the wood near Purley, we headed south toward Little Heath. Some of the lower-lying paths were quite boggy. Just before reaching Little Heath, we turned west and descended a steep path through Sulham Wood into a large field below.
Heading from Little Heath to Sulham.
Here we got views of Watership Down and Cottington's Hill in the far distance and later got a view of the Wilder's Folly (aka the Calcot Dovecot) on Nunhide Hill. Passing the church and a quaint-looking gatehouse on Sulham Hill, we crossed the road and followed a footpath behind some large houses and gardens, taking us back to Sulham Wood.
We used some fallen trees as benches while we ate our packed lunches. There was also a rope-swing, which some of us felt the urge to try out.
Stopping by a gatehouse on Sulham Hill.
Finally, we headed back to Pangbourne Village Hall, taking the same route we'd used at the start of the walk. See our route on Google Maps. While we were out walking, three of our committee had volunteered to stay behind and set up the hall for the AGM.
After changing out of our muddy boots, we went into the hall to be greeted by tables of homemade cakes and biscuits, plus the wherewithal for making tea, coffee and lemon squash. Suitably refreshed, we conducted our AGM, voting in the new members of our committee. Afterwards, there was still time for second helpings of drinks and cakes before we had to clear the hall.
Thank you to Sue, Ann and Richard for setting up the hall, and to all those who made the cakes and biscuits.
Walk 609 - Northern Lanes, Warfield
Some Shetland Ponies in Warfield.
On Saturday 4th November, eighteen ramblers gathered for a seven-mile circular walk, welcoming four members from the Berkshire Walkers. Such a large group was a surprise given the recent stormy weather and the forecast of more rain. However we were rewarded by sunshine and blue skies at the start and for the majority of our walk.
As expected we had to negotiate muddy tracks and flooded lanes throughout the walk, but didn’t have to make any detours.
Outside the church at Warfield.
Starting from the Frost Folly Country car park we took the path to the far left corner following it gently downhill and small incline until reaching a right hand gate towards the church. Just after the Vicarage a path led us over three fields, passing by some tiny Shetland ponies, then over a boardwalk to the road at Wayne Bridge.
Entering Ashmore Lane.
Across the road we picked up the next track across fields with views of Hayley Green Farm, the oldest dwelling in Warfield - originally the Old Manor House.
Emerging onto the road at Brockhill we turned left and after Planners Farm followed left footpath signs. Walking through enclosed paths through fields to reach the A330, crossed into Garston Lane leading down to a left turn then right into Hog Oak Lane and start of woodland. We past the enclosed nature reserve then turned into Ashmore Lane (reputedly one of the prettiest - though not in the present climate!). At the junction with Hawthorn Lane a right turn took us past Lordlands Farm, end of Cruch Lane and an old icehouse.
One of the many puddles on Ashmore Lane.
Emerging onto the A330 again we crossed and followed the right hand Hawthorndale bridleway leading to a pathway, over the A3095 into Pendry’s Lane downhill to the junction with Hazelwood Lane, with Westley Mill Ford directly in front. Here we crossed the side bridge to take lunch in a wooded area, and a timely shower invited itself.
Paddling along the flooded Hazelwood Lane.
Following refreshments we retraced back to Hazelwood Lane which is very long, the initial section required carefully placed boots and poles as there was significant flooding.
After a small stable yard and house, we turned left into Buckle Lane, passing more dwellings and on up to the Shepherds House pub.
Here some of the group stopped for a welcome drink, whilst others continued over the main A3095 into Bowyers Lane continuing uphill onto Weller’s Lane and back to the car park. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Ann and Kathy for leading this walk and to Kathy for writing it up.
Walk 608 - Rotherwick and Sherfield-on-Loddon
Crossing a field at Rotherwick farm.
When I led my first walk for the Berkshire Weekend Walkers, Saturday 28th October was sunny and bright. Eleven of us met outside the church in Rotherwick, ready for the eight-mile walk. After a short introductory speech, and welcoming a member of the Berkshire Walkers, we set off.
On leaving the church yard, we followed the Brenda Parker Way footpath across a field which arrived at The Rotherwick Patch, a pumpkin farm.
Posing by the pumpkin patch.
Lots of pumpkins were still in the field and had yet to be collected - a perfect photo opportunity.
We stayed on the Brenda Parker Way, passing farms, crossing footbridges, and finally parting from that path to head towards Sherfield-on-Loddon.
Crossing the Lyde River.
We caught the first glimpse of one of the two golf courses on the route. After following a road between the Sherfield Oaks golf course, we turned right into some woods that had some shelters made in some trees.
After crossing another footbridge, we arrived near Ducketts Farm, where some alpacas were approaching, hoping that we had some tasty treats for them!
Some alpacas on Ducketts Farm.
At the end of the footpath we crossed over the first of many stiles in this section of the walk, to go into a field where we were nearing another open field ideal for a lunch stop.
After eating our packed lunches and sharing stories of different sweets and biscuits old and new, we set off on the rest of the walk. A brief shower of rain had us all reaching for our waterproof jackets.
Putting on our waterproofs for a brief shower.
After crossing a stile, we walked on a track towards Wildmoor Farm. At the farm we turned right into the most enchanting wooded area, following a stream. Although brief, it felt very magical!
The enchanted footpath by Wildmoor Farm.
Emerging at the end of the farm was a track that was quite wet and muddy that would take us past our final golf course of Tylney Park.
Horses in paddocks and red kites trying to grab some food were spotted as we walked along the track. Another footbridge through some woodland and we reached a quiet road leading us back towards Rotherwick.
The Autumn colours of a Liquidambar tree.
A beautiful Liquidambar tree was spotted through the hedgerow, due to it's leaves turning a beautiful red colour. Three deer were seen playing nearby.
As we reached the road toward Rotherwick, we said goodbye to one of our party who had another engagement. The remaining ten of us crossed over the road onto a footpath back towards some woodland on the outskirts of Hook. We stopped en-route to admire a dead oak tree, which still stood quite majestically amongst the woodland.
Leaving Rotherwick on our way to Hook.
Continuing down we skirted Shirlens Copse turning left into some more woodland.
Emerging into a field we then had a small climb alongside Great Nightingales Copse and reached the four finger post. This is where I decided on a short route change due to some extreme mud on the pre-walk. This is also the time when the rain started to fall more decisively.
The four-way fingerpost between Hook and Rotherwick.
With our rain jackets back on we turned left and then right towards Runten's Farm.
Back on the Brenda Parker Way we headed along a very muddy and waterlogged footpath to reach The Coach and Horses pub at Rotherwick. Seven of us stayed for a well deserved drink.
Thank you to everyone who came to my first walk as a leader. I was very nervous beforehand but I had done my pre-walk and had my map, and the sense of accomplishment at the end was great!
Please see our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Emma for leading this walk and writing it up.
Walk 607 - Tilford, Crooksbury and Waverley Abbey
Walking through Crooksbury Common.
On Sunday 22nd October, Ann and Kathy led a variation of a walk they've led before in Surrey. Fourteen of us, plus a small dog, met up on Tilford Village Green in glorious sunshine. The recent heavy rain from Storm Babet meant that some of the route would be muddy, but the sandy soil of this part of Surrey had drained most of the rain away.
Leaving on a road bridge to the north-east of the green, we walked through this pleasant village before turning off onto Whitmead Lane. This we followed as far as a hair-pin bend, where we left it for a muddy footpath taking us uphill to Charleshill.
Descending Crooksbury Hill.
Crossing the main road by The Donkey pub, we headed north on Sands Lane, through mixed woodland and into Crooksbury Common, a heathland on greensand soil.
The main path through the common is called Long Hill, and it gradually took us upward to Stone Hill, where we branched left onto Crooksbury Lane. Crossing a road, we were now at the foot of Crooksbury Hill - where we would stop for lunch.
Mother Ludlam's Cave, complete with a wheelbarrow.
Instead of just heading straight up as we had done previously, we took a more circuitous and undulating route via Soldier's Ring, a Bronze-age hillfort. Heading steeply downhill from the fort (earthworks) and then just as steeply uphill, we arrived at the view point on the top of Crooksbury Hill. There were two benches and the stepped plinth of the trigpoint to sit on while we ate our packed lunches, basking in the autumn sun and enjoying the commanding views of the Surrey Hills.
A tawny owl, sleeping in an alcove in the abbey ruins.
After our lunch, we descended a very steep footpath down to Crooksbury Road - another new addition to the original walk. A short walk along this surprisingly busy road brought us to a long, straight footpath that joined up with the North Downs Way. We followed this long-distance path westward as far as Moor Park College where we joined the Greensand Way, heading south-east along the course of the north branch of the River Wey.
Part of the remains of Waverley Abbey.
Along the way, we stopped at Mother Ludlam's Cave, a small cave in the sandstone cliff.
The next stop was to see the ruins of Waverley Abbey (a Cistercian abbey, founded in the 12th century). While exploring the ruins, we saw a tawny owl, sleeping in a low alcove in a stone wall. We were able to get close enough to photograph it without it waking up. We were surprised it was sleeping in what seemed a vulnerable position.
After exploring the abbey ruins, we continued following the Greensand Way southward, back to Tilford Village Green. See our route on Google Maps. According to my GPS, we'd covered 8.8 miles with 1,950 feet of ascent in total. A good workout!
Thank you to Ann and Kathy for leading this walk.
Walk 606 - Donnington, Bagnor and Snelsmore Common
Stopping for a look at the Watermill Theatre.
After a fairly wet week, Saturday 14th October was a dry and sunny day. A good day for a new walk leader to lead her first walk, which is what Anne was doing. Sixteen of us (including a couple of newcomers, trying us out) turned up at a small car park in the village of Donnington for this eight mile walk.
We started off by crossing a field, picking up a footpath that passed by Donnington Castle (we would visit the castle later in the walk) and a golf course before crossing the A34 Newbury bypass on a footbridge shared with the golf course.
Heading into Boxford Common from Mount Hill.
Now we were heading into Bagnor, a picturesque village on the banks of the River Lambourn. It is also home to the Watermill Theatre, which we stopped at for quick look around.
We left Bagnor on a footpath that passed over Mount Hill and into Boxford Common. After a short bit of road walking, we were on another footpath that took us through Borough Copse, Borough Hill and Lower Farm to Winterbourne Manor. Here we stopped to look at the church and have our packed lunches.
Entering Snelsmore Common from Winterbourne Holt.
After lunch, we headed uphill through fields to Winterbourne Holt and then into the mixed heathland of Snelsmore Common. More uphill took us through the common, passing Black Ditch on our way to The Snug - a small café. Here we stopped while most of us got tea, coffee, cake and even ice cream!
After a short break, we continued to explore Snelsmore Common, some of us still carrying our cups of drink, and finally leaving it via Hill's Pightle.
The gatehouse of Donnington Castle.
We crossed the A34 on another bridge (not far from the first one we'd crossed) which got us to Castle Farm. A footpath brought us to Donnington Castle from the northern side. This time we stopped for a look around. The ruins of this 14th century castle include the twin-towered gatehouse and the footings of the main building. Both Henry VIII and Elizabeth I are thought to have stayed here.
Being built on a hill, there were some commanding views from Donnington Castle. Much of Newbury can be seen, with Speen and Donnington in the foreground. In the distance, we could also see Watership Down and the Hannington transmitter mast at Cottington's Hill.
Admiring the view over Newbury.
A long, downhill path took us back to Donnington village and the car park where we'd started. The walk had finished. Some people went home while the majority of us stayed for a drink in the village. We walked down Shop Lane to Castle Lane and The Hartley Arms pub. Some of us bought drinks here while others popped into the Honesty Café next door for more tea, coffee and cake. We all sat together in the seating area by the River Lambourn and had a good old chat.
For a first walk, this was a really nice one. Well planned, with a variety of terrains, good views and two refreshment stops. The weather was kind to us, too.
Thank you to Anne for leading her first walk for us.
Walk 605 - Ten-Pin Bowling in Bracknell
Our two teams on adjacent lanes.
The evening of Friday 13th October was dark and wet, but our social event this month was in the dry. Ten of us meet up at Hollywood Bowl at The Point in Bracknell for two games of of ten-pin bowling.
The all-girls team.
We split into two teams of five on alleys next to each other and bowling commenced! Some of us had bowling experience, but more often than not, it was just bowl and hope for the best.
Lots of fun and laughter was had by everyone and Friday the 13th was not unlucky in the least.
Huge thanks go to our Social Events Co-ordinator Richard for organising another enjoyable social event.
Thank you to Richard for organising this social event and to Emma for the write-up.
Walk 604 - Cookham
Walking through Cookham Holy Trinity churchyard.
On Sunday 1st October, twenty-four ramblers met in the NT car park at Cookham Moor. It was lovely to welcome a new walker trying the BWWs out for the first time and to be joined by Molly, a very well behaved black Labrador. The weather was unusually warm for the time of year ~22°C and the car park was very busy, mainly with dog walkers coming and going.
Life size lion and giraffe sculptures.
Setting off across the moor towards Cookham village, we soon passed the artist, Stanley Spencer's house, easily spotted by having a blue plaque. Turning left at the end of the High Street, we walked through Holy Trinity churchyard to the wonderful peel of church bells, then followed the path down to the River Thames.
The Thames at Cookham is especially attractive with houses of all shapes, sizes and designs on the opposite bank, including one with life size sculptures of a lion and giraffe in the garden.
On top of Winter Hill.
After about two miles, we left the Thames and headed south across a field and then west to ascend Winter Hill. This was the first of several ascents and we were rewarded with lovely views over the river towards Marlow.
At the top of Winter Hill, we followed a narrow wooded path parallel to the Thames, which at times felt as if we were walking through a tunnel. Crossing a road, we then entered Quarry Wood with lovely open and undulating paths.
A view of Marlow from Winter Hill
After a somewhat steeper climb, we stopped for lunch where there were several large fallen trees, with plenty of seating for twenty four. The woodland was rather damp and the perfect habitat for some unusual puffball mushrooms, some of which at first sight could easily be mistaken for conkers.
Puffball mushroom in Quarry Wood.
Leaving Quarry Wood, we walked along the edge of a field enjoying the wonderful sight of red kites. We then headed north east to cross Cookham Dean Common before arriving in Cookham Dean with many perfectly manicured hedges lining the road.
On reaching John the Baptist Church, we took a footpath eastwards across fields towards Cookham Rise. Walking past the Cricket Club, we were fortunate to see a vintage car show, displaying many wonderful Citreon 2CVs, together with numerous other makes of cars from the 1930s to the 1970s.
Manicured hedges in Cookham Dean.
The next leg of our walk was along residential roads to Cookham Station, passing a wonderful mix of interesting houses, quaint cottages and Victorian villas.
After a parade of shops, we headed north and then east on footpaths which took us back to the NT car park at Cookham Moor. Although this was the end of the walk, a number of the group continued across the moor for refreshments at The Crown pub. Having spotted the dessert menu at the bar, some of us also indulged in several delicious desserts, all beautifully presented - they really did taste as good as they looked!
In just 7¾ miles, we'd enjoyed a real mix of different terrains, lovely views and managed 615ft of ascent. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Sue from leading this walk, for writing it up and providing the photos.