Walk 167 - Old Windsor, Thames Path and Runnymede
Following the Thames Path past Magna Carta Island.
Starting the walk with a group of 14 we set off from the recreation park, Robin Willis-Way in Old Windsor making our way to the A308. Crossing here we to continued along footpaths leading through a housing estate and paths round the local church to the River Thames.
Following the Thames Path towards Runnymede we admired the large properties on either side of the riverbank and various boats on the water. The group stopped at the Magna Carta exhibition being held by the University of Brunel on it's last day, providing information on the history of the charter.
An engraved window at the Airforce Memorial.
Continuing along the river there was a Regatta being held with much activity from the many clubs involved and spectators enjoying the races and refreshment tents. Passing the Pleasure-grounds there was opportunity for ice-cream and WC stop before final leg along the Thames and start of some light rain.
Turning off the riverside at the lock we crossed over into the Runnymede meadows and woodland, heading towards Coopers Hill slopes and a steady ascent leading up to the RAF Commonwealth Memorial. This beautiful building set among pristine gardens is a fitting tribute to the many servicemen and women lost in the 2nd World War and the many individual photos, letters and stories left by families make powerful reading. Views from the large picture windows and rooftop are far and wide taking in the river, Wraysbury reservoirs and Heathrow. We stopped here for lunch appropriately timed as we had a heavy downpour, but were able to enjoy the peaceful surroundings in comfort.
The rain eased on leaving and with spells of sunshine headed towards the village green of Englefield there taking footpaths over fields to a main road, crossing over into woodland leading back to Runnymede and the President John F Kennedy Memorial.
Our leader telling us a bit about the JFK Memorial.
The memorial and surrounding acre of land was given by the Queen to citizens of USA in 1965 designed by Sir Geoffrey Jellicoe and made of Portland stone. An American scarlet oak tree and Hawthorne bush sit nearby and path to the right lead to seats of contemplation where visitors can rest. The steps of individuality lead down from the memorial back to the meadow.
Here we found the new static exhibit of lovely decorative chairs commemorative of the gathering for sealing of Magna Carta in 1215, and nearby the memorial designed by Sir Edward Maufe, erected in 1975 by the American bar Association.
Enjoying Tea, cake and a joke at Runnymede NT Tea House.
At the edge of the meadow is the Fairhaven Memorial Lodges designed by Sir Edward Lutyens commissioned by Lady Fairhaven as memorial to her husband Sir Urban Broughton MP, who bought Runnymede in 1928 to safeguard it's future.
One of the lodges used by the National Trust is a Tea House, shop and washroom facilities. Here we enjoyed afternoon tea and home-made cakes outside in the sunshine. Suitably refreshed we traced our steps back along the Thames path to our starting point at the recreation park. See our route on Bing Maps.
We completed 10½ miles, having opted not to take in the pub visit. This easy-moderate level walk was varied, historic and picturesque with many stopping points and facilities on the way.
Thank you to Kathy for providing this write-up and Julia for providing the photos.
Walk 166 - Bucklebury, Bradfield and Stanford Dingley
Walking along a footpath by the River Pang.
Thirteen of us gathered in Bucklebury village for this picturesque walk through a variety of different landscapes including the Pang Valley. Although the weather was mostly overcast it was an ideal temperature for walking. We set off through Bucklebury Common before reaching the green at the small settlement of Chapel Row. Here there is a 17th century Inn now known rather strangely as the Bladebone Inn.
We continued on through farmland and lush woodland, passing alongside a golf course, before arriving at the village of Bradfield – home to the public school Bradfield College. Our wander through the village coincided with the Bradfield Music Festival and we saw evidence of white marquees and school pupils directing visitors.
This old phone box has been re-used as a library.
We soon reached the old part of the village by the school art department where we started to walk along the River Pang, with its crystal clear waters. After a relaxing lunch stop on the grassy riverbank we continued along the beautiful Pang valley, passing fields of daisies and red poppies.
Stopping for drinks at the 15th century Bull Inn in Stanford Dingley, we were greeted by a crowing cockerel that was wandering around the beer garden. Outside the Inn we spotted an innovative use of a redundant telephone box – a community book and CD exchange.
Suitably refreshed we continued on through fields of reclining cows, and further along spotted a field of sheep and cream and brown Alpacas. The last leg of the walk took us through Highwood Copse and Frilsham Common with Rhododendrons adding colour to the greenery along the way. Arriving back at Bucklebury, all agreed it had been a satisfying and enjoyable walk.
Thanks go to Sue for leading this walk and to Julia for writing it up.
Walk 165 - Stratfield Mortimer Evening Walk
Passing through Wheat's Farm on the way to Admiral's Copse
The second of this year's evening walks was on Wednesday 17th June, with ten people able to make it. This 4 mile walk started by the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Stratfield Mortimer, soon after 7pm and initially followed The Street, heading east, past the turning for Station Road before taking a rather overgrown footpath. This took us north-west between fields, over a quiet lane and skirted Monkton Copse on the way to Wheat's Farm.
After passing the stables, we turned south and followed a footpath through woodland that emerged onto The Street again, this time nearer Mortimer village. We followed the road west for a short while, before turning left into Kiln Lane, which we followed as it turned from a lane into a footpath and took us into Admiral's Copse.
Emerging from Admiral's Copse into a field of wheat.
We emerged from Admiral's Copse into a wheat field, which we crossed to get to Drury Lane. Following this lane for a short distance to a T-junction, we turned right onto Pitfield Lane. This we followed until reaching Tanhouse Bridge, a road bridge over West End Brook, where we turned left onto a footpath that followed West End Brook through a field.
Next we crossed a bridge of the railway line and another wheat field before reaching The Devil's Highway, the old Roman road from Silchester to London. We followed this diabolical road for a short distance before leaving it, this time heading north through yet another wheat field.
Leaving The Devil's Highway to pass through another wheat field.
We followed a footpath through several fields of (yes, you guessed it) wheat, before crossing under the railway line and joining a path that followed Foundry Brook to Foundry Pond, and back to the church where we had started. See our route on Bing Maps. It was still quite light by the time we finished the walk.
After the walk, some of the group went home straight away as it was a week day, but a few stayed on for a post-walk drink. We went to The Elm Tree pub in nearby Beech Hill, which was on the route home for most of us. Here we sat outside with our drinks, enjoying the sunset, before going home.
Walk 162 - Silchester and Pamber Forest
Entering Calleva Atrebatum through the West Gate
Fifteen of us, including some newcomers, met up on Saturday 6th June at the English Heritage car park by the remains of the Roman Town of Calleva Atrebatum near Silchester. The walk started by heading down to the West Gate of the city wall and from there we walked along the top of the wall, past the North Gate, heading toward the East Gate.
From there we made a brief diversion to have a look at the Roman Amphitheatre before returning to the East Gate, where our route took us past a slightly more modern (12th century) church. Passing a small field with llamas in it, we crossed through the middle of the town, which is mostly farm land now.
Crossing Silchester Brook near Early Bridge Copse
On previous walks through Calleva Atrebatum we have been able to see an archaeological excavation site run the the University of Reading. They have been working there since 1997 but finished last year. The site has been filled in and is now a meadow, with only a small information board to indicate where it had been.
Leaving by the West Gate, where we'd first entered the Roman town, we headed south through fields and woodland before following a quiet road for a short while. This brought us to Early Bridge Copse where we crossed Silchester Brook and then through Bridle's Copse before crossing Silchester Road and finally entering Pamber Forest. Once in the nature reserve of Pamber Forest, we found a suitable spot for our picnic lunch, with some fallen trees to sit on.
Stopping for a drink at the Calleva Arms pub in Silchester
After lunch we carried on through the forest, crossing streams and following a U-shaped route to take us out of the forest by Silchester. Along the way we had to take a small detour to avoid some tree-cutting before emerging in Silchester by the Calleva Arms pub where we stopped for a drink.
When I lead a walk, I often bring a spare map of the route, just in case someone has to leave early for some reason. Today two people had a reason to leave early. One went as we arrived at the pub and the other went after a quick drink, so both my maps were needed. Luckily I could remember the last part of the route without needing to refer to a map.
Returning to Calleva from Silchester on a path near Silchester Hall
I was slightly surprised that when the second person left the pub, four others went at the same time, leaving only nine of the original fifteen. Were we drinking too slowly or was it something I said? ;-) Anyway, we finished our drinks and followed on, crossing the playing field in Silchester and then heading east past Silchester Hall on a footpath that eventually joined our outgoing path.
We followed this back to the car park where we met some of the others that had returned earlier. See our route on Bing Maps. One of my maps was tucked under the windscreen wiper of my car, having been thoughtfully returned by the person who had borrowed it.
Walk 159 - Burnham Beeches and Hedgerley
Mike, the leader of this walk, has written this scrapbook entry and provided photos. Phil, a member of our group who was on the walk, has also contributed a photo.
Exiting bluebell woods to Kiln Lane in Hedgerley. Photo by Phil H.
On Saturday 16th May, twelve of us joined the walk including one new person, Hayley, invited to the walk by Tendi. The walk was essentially a repeat of walk 26 from January 2013 with the aim of completing a loop missed last time due to flooding. Due to the short notice of the walk being included in the programme, our leader, Mike, had not recently pre-walked it but relied on his memory from 2013 and had his map to hand as backup.
We started the walk by the Beeches café on Lord Mayor’s Drive in the Burnham Beeches national nature reserve. The reserve was acquired in 1880 under The City of London’s Open Spaces Act of 1878 and now attracts half a million visitors a year so is a popular recreational location.
The walk started by heading along the tarmac drives first in a north-west direction on Halse Way and then east on Dukes Drive through the nature reserve. We left the main open access area by Great Burnt Coppice and Egypt Woods and then walked with care for 0.5km along Egypt Lane. Here we turned off right on a footpath, crossed the busy A355, along another short path before joining a quieter lane. Next we turned left into Andrew Hill Lane before taking a footpath through what looked like a deer gate down some woodland where blue bells were again seen in abundance, it seems to have been a particularly good year for them.
Lunch in the sun by the Church Wood nature reserve. Photo by Mike D.
Having walked down Kiln Lane and given the village hall disco a miss we joined the main road in the village of Hedgerley, a Buckinghamshire Best Kept Village winner for 2014. We turned off right by the pond into a series of meadow type fields next to the Church Wood nature reserve. An early relaxing lunch was taken at the far end of the meadow with the sun shining throughout.
After lunch we skirted around the nature reserve on a sunken footpath and dropped down into the village of Hedgerley by Saint Mary the Virgin parish church. Next followed a drink stop at the very pleasant looking White Horse pub. A pub specialising in real ale, judging by the selection on offer.
A drink in the sun at The White Horse pub, Hedgerley. Photo by Mike D.
Suitable refreshed we walked through the village, re-traced our steps along Kiln Lane and continued up a track to Pennlands Farm. We next crossed back into the northern section of Egypt Woods and exited at Abbey Park Farm. Some quiet lane walking followed and next we crossed the open access land called Littleworth Common which seemed to have grown up a lot since the last visit. We exited the open access land, passed the Blacksmith Arms pub and returned to our start via Dorney Wood and Halse Drive back in the Burnham Beeches reserve with a nice hill to complete the walk.
Finally back at the Beeches café some of us had a well-deserved drink and a few also had cake to finish the day off before heading home. Mike was relieved his memory from 2013 was working!
We do not have the usual detailed route map but if anyone wants the full route details, please contact Mike.
Walk 158 - Shinfield and River Loddon
Posing for a group photo on King's Bridge over the River Loddon.
The first evening walk this year was on Tuesday 12th May. Ian led ten of us (nine regulars and a visitor from a neighbouring group) for a five mile walk, starting at 6:45pm from Spencers Wood. It had been a lovely sunny day while we were at work, so this was an excellent opportunity to enjoy what remained of it before sunset.
We set off from Spencers Wood, heading west and then south, through fields and woodland, until we were parallel to the A33 from Reading to Basingstoke. We turned off at Loddon Court and (after a brief stop for a photo on King's Bridge) followed the course of the River Loddon as far as Sheepbridge Court Farm.
Llamas in a farm near Spencers Wood.
Leaving the river, we passed through open fields where one of our members declared that she could just see her house in Spencers Wood. Soon we were at another farm where there were half a dozen llamas in a field. They took some interest in us as we passed, but didn't get too close.
Back in the village we made our way through a mixture of minor roads and a field, back to where we'd started, just as the sun was setting. See our route on Bing Maps.
A few of us stopped off at a nearby pub for a drink before heading home. The sky was still a twilight blue as we left at 9:30pm.
Walk 157 - Henley and Harpsden
Walking through a field on Cowfields Farm.
On Sunday 10th May, Julia led her second walk for us. I think we had twenty-two people on this walk. I should know this with more certainty as I was sharing the Back Marker duties with Mike. (The Back Marker is someone that walks at the back to make sure that no-one gets lost if they can't see the leader.)
We set off from Henley-on-Thames railway station and walked further into town and then out the other side, following a footpath known as Pack and Prime Lane (according to my Ordnance Survey map). This path led us through Packham Plantation and across Cowfield Farm before entering Crowsley Park Woods (not far from Rotherfield Peppard) where the bluebells were still in full bloom.
Stopping for our picnic lunch in Crowsley Park Woods.
At one point we could see a massive dish antenna, through a gap in the hedge, which belongs to the BBC listening station at Caversham Park. Further on through the woods, nearer to Binfield Heath, we stopped to eat our packed lunches among the bluebell (and nettles).
The picnic over, we continued our route, leaving the wood and passing Binfield House. We did a short stretch of road walking before entering High Wood on our way to Harpsden Wood. We nearly reached Harpsden Village before doubling back, having missed a turning. Back on track we headed in the direction of Lower Shiplake before turning off towards Bolney Court.
A rather splendid model railway in someone's garden.
At Bolney Court we joined the Thames Path at a point where you couldn't see the Thames, but you could see a rather splendid miniature railway in a large, well-kept garden. There was plenty of track, a number of points, and even a miniature station!
Soon path was back on the banks of the Thames and we followed the this back to Henley. On the way, the path took a detour along a set of bridges to Mill Bank Lock and over the weirs before returning to the same bank of the Thames. See our route on Bing Maps.
The walk finished back in Henley where some of us stopped for an ice cream while others went to a café for tea and cake.
Walk 156 - Thatcham and Bucklebury Common
After Mike's walk on Saturday 2nd May, Alexis, who joined our group in February, kindly volunteered to write the scrapbook entry for this walk - with a little help from Mike on the route description. Here is is:
Walking past Wimple's Wood on our way from Hart's Hill to Long Grove Copse.
How did Mike know how relevant the location of his walk would be, with the Royal arrival of a baby girl, daughter of Duchess of Cambridge of Bucklebury!
Twenty happy Ramblers gathered in the carpark under starters orders to undertake a Thatcham and Bucklebury Common walk, 6 miles, classified as EASY... Whilst waiting for walkers to gather and boot-up Mike gave us a little more information on the circular route that we would be taking, indicating 2 slight hills during the walk and the promise of bluebells, plus if we made good time we would avoid any potential downpours.. Ah, and welcome to a newbie - Nichola - here on her first walk.
Walking through Blackland's Copse with the first bluebells on show.
A little after 10:30am we departed Bradley Moore square heading east along Floral Way, Dunston Park, Thatcham and opposite Simmons Field took a left turn permissive path up the edge of Hart's Hill (Hill 1).
At the top of the hill some of us stopped to catch our breath and take in the view. We continued beyond a new small development to a track and turned right, passed a very narrow fence construct known to the walk leader an anti-obesity gate (hang on, squeezing through with my backpack), over a water section (water feature!) and into Wimble's wood. And we were not going to be disappointed; here we saw the first cluster of Blue bells.
We headed up a well-defined track (Hill 2) and at the top of Wimble's wood and edge of Blacklands Copse we turned left to follow a track into the village of Upper Bucklebury. In Upper Bucklebury we crossed the road and having passed the nicely named Ramblers cottage we turned right into a Quiet lane.
More bluebells. A dominant feature of this walk.
Beyond some thatched properties, turned left past The White House, onto a track left and left again by Sadgrove Farm up a slope (Hill 3) and left onto Briff Lane. Turned right then past a very grand looking house with pool and tennis court down manicured footpath into private woodland with our second cluster of magnificent bluebells…. Well done Mike!
Crossing the woodland with Phil standing on a bridge to stop people falling through the open hole we headed up a slope (Hill 4) to Hopgood's farm. Crossed a lane here into a maze of footpaths and headed downhill to The Slade. We turned left passing a chocolate box looking thatched cottage in the Slade, turned right passing through properties to a grassy spot with many footpath options.
Even more bluebells. We can't get enough of them.
What seemed a very quick lunch was taken here on the grass rather than plan B of sitting on some fallen trees. I know it was quick as I didn't get to eat my snacks and only managed half of my coffee before we were off again…
Proceeded then through Holly Wood to a lane and into a slightly muddier wood called Ramsbury wood, here there were a few patches of Blue bells but possibly due to sunlight, they were not so impressive a sight as to the earlier sets. Here we had to traverse a few water ditches before heading up a slope (Hill 5) to a road just outside the village of Cold Ash. (No-one mentioned having to negotiate water features on route!! Glad my gaiters got an outing, not that I got my feet wet mind you!)
Walking through Dunston Park farm on the last leg of the walk.
Crossed the road down a quiet lane called Lawrance Lane, turned left to Park farm and diagonal right back on a series of paths back down to the Thatcham distributor road. We then returned via the Dunston estate back to our start point where most of us then went to the Mill pub for a well-earned drink and some had a small map reading workshop.. See our route on Bing Maps.
Now I am sure the briefing was an easy 6 mile ramble…and 2 small hills, but I can assure you today my Glutes noted the 5 hills and 3 water features… but the company, the shandy, the weather and the bluebells made it all worthwhile..
(Note to self… shandy will go to your head after a 6 mile ramble and lack of snacks – I know this to be true, as not only did I volunteer to write up the editorial with help from Mike (the walker leader) but I volunteered to lead a walk and organise a social – so watch this space and only lemonade in future after walks !!)
See you all soon for the next walk…
Walk 155 - Kintbury and Hamstead Marshall
An unusual item to find in a field. A giant boot on Willow Farm.
Seventeen of us went on Sue's walk on Sunday 26th April, which started from the car park between the canal and railway at Kintbury. We started by briefly following the canal tow-path to the west and then crossing the first bridge over the canal, heading south into Kintbury.
Crossing through the church yard and over the High Street, we left the village, heading south along a footpath through Titcomb, toward the hamlet of Inkpen. Passing a field in Inkpen, we were met with an unusual sight - a six-foot high walking boot in the middle of a field. I wouldn't want to meet the rambler that wears this boot!
Walking through Hamstead Park on our way from Hamstead Marshall to Hamstead Lock.
From Inkpen, we headed east through farmland, woodland, and over many stiles. Sue had warned us that there were a lot of stiles in the first half of the walk. I counted twelve of them, but I may have missed one or two. We also saw quite a few bluebells and wood anemones along the way. The brief but colourful bluebell season was just starting.
Soon we were in the woodland of Great Holt Copse, where we found a suitable spot to stop for our picnic lunch. Leaving the wood we crossed a couple of fields and arrived at Hamstead Marshal where we stopped at the White Hart for a drink. A very pleasant pub with flagstone floors and a log fire burning merrily.
Crossing the Kennet and Avon Canal at Hamstead Lock.
Having slaked our thirst and warmed up by the fire, we set off in a north-easterly direction from the pub and were soon skirting Hamstead Park on our way back to the Kennet & Avon Canal. After a mile we arrived at the canal, crossed it at Hamstead Lock and then joined the tow-path, going west.
We followed the tow-path for a couple of miles until we reached the car park at Kintbury, where we had started the walk. See our route on Bing Maps.
The public toilets at the car park provided a welcome relief for those of us affected by the combination of cold weather and beer!
Walk 154 - Tales of the Riverbank at Cookham
Walking along the Thames Path just west of Cookham.
Sunday 19th April saw the first walk led for us by Julia, and despite the relatively cold and dull weather, we had twenty-five people turn up. These included a few newcomers and visitors from other groups.
The meeting point was the Moor car park on the B4447, however when I arrived I found Lawrence (one of our regular visitors from the Chiltern Weekend Walkers) directing traffic as half of the car park had been dug up and fenced off. Those of us that couldn't get into the car park managed to find parking spaces elsewhere, nearby in Cookham.
Stopping for our picnic lunch at The Hockett.
The walk started by heading into Cookham and then out again along the Thames Path. This we followed, first north then west past The Bounty pub and the fronts of some expensive riverside houses on Cock Marsh, before leaving it to head up the sloping footpath to Long Copse and Winter Hill.
We travelled along the ridge-way for a short while before descending onto the Cookham Bridleway Circuit and entered Quarry Wood. Following a fairly level path through the wood we then began to ascend again, this time to High Wood, between Quarry Wood and Fultness Wood. Here we stopped for lunch, sitting on some large logs.
Walking along the Cookham Bridleway Circuit near Cookham Dean.
After lunch we continued to follow the Cookham Bridleway Circuit along a loop through Fultness Woods, emerging onto Cookham Dean Common. Crossing the common, we entered the village of Cookham Dean and made our way to the Jolly Farmer for a drink.
Leaving the pub, we weaved our way through the village and then through a hamlet called Halloween. From there we joined the Chiltern Way, which gently descended through Winter Hill Golf Course and eventually down to the Moor car park where we started the walk. See our route on Bing Maps.
This enjoyable and picturesque 9½ mile walk contained a total of 655m (2150ft) of ascents, so it was a good workout as well.
Walk 153 - Oxford to Port Meadow and Swinford Bridge
Walking on the Thames Path just north of Oxford.
Eight of us, including six regulars and two visitors set out on this enjoyable 14 mile walk from Oxford on Saturday 11th April.
We headed out of the town along the Thames Path in sunny but unexpectedly breezy weather. We paused for a drink stop by the ruins of Godstow Abbey and then continued on the path along through Port Meadows where sheep were busy tending their lambs - some of which had only just been born that morning - a sure sign of spring!
We had our lunch stop at a picnic table by one of the locks, some of us sampling some interesting Japanese cake courtesy of one of our visitors.
Stopping for a quick drink at the Talbot Inn.
Continuing along the Thames path we eventually reached Swinford Bridge where we crossed over the bridge and toll booth towards The Talbot Inn at Eynsham where refreshments were enjoyed, sat outside by the river.
We then retraced our steps back along the river, stopping for a (brief) second pub stop at The Trout. The last leg of the walk took us along the other side of the river back towards Oxford, this time with no breeze, arriving back at the Station where we had started out for our journeys onward.
Many thanks to Julia for providing this write-up and the photos.