Walk 285 - Blackheath, the Chantries and St Martha's Hill
Kathy and I also have a confession to make (just like Rob when we did this walk last year) we drove to Blackheath Common car park, and we were the only ones there, everyone else had gathered at the second car park in Blackheath, so we drove there to join them. There were eight ramblers, including the leaders, and all had walked with the BWWs before.
Approaching St. Martha's Hill.
Kathy realised we were in the wrong place, highlighting that we had started the walk at Blackheath village last time. We decided to start the walk where we were and left the car park into the woods on a path that led us to Blackheath Common, but we had missed the blooms of the heather this year. With Jim's help, we navigated to the bridleway which tied in with our written instructions. We followed this path to the railway bridge which led to the Dorking road in Chilworth.
Crossing over we walked through a small farm on a path between meadows. Further on over the bridge would be an opportunity to visit the Chilworth Gunpowder Mills, we did not go as far as the bridge today, but climbed over a stile to our right, through two meadows, another stile, a footbridge and an enclosed path where we saw the woolly pigs (but no piglets this time) and a very productive allotment, this path led to a large pond. A second pond called Postford pond' and Albert Mill and Paper-Mould Manufactory were the next landmarks.
The church on St. Martha's Hill.
A path on our left took us to Waterloo pond and Millstone cottage, we continued along a fence with the cottage garden on our left, a path under tall beeches, leading to Tillingbourne Valley on our left and wooded slopes on the right. This path eventually narrows and we go up the steepest part of this hill near to St Martha's Hill car park. We followed this wide sandy path up to the top of Saint Martha's Hill and stopped for a rest outside the church.
Leaving the church, we kept to the main track joining the north downs way for a short while, then going deep into this spectacular wood of the Chantries. We follow this wide path ahead, reaching a path that zigzagged ahead we take a much narrower path to the right, a yellow arrow confirms that we are on the right path. We follow this path over the hilltop to 'the grandest part of the chantries with a fine mix of Scots pine, larch and various cedars', in the spring the area is full of bluebells. We bear left and stop at a break in the trees with a view to Guildford Cathedral and have lunch.
Cows sheltering under the trees.
We took a path to the right through the woods and a nature reserve to Chantry Lodge. Taking a fairly hidden narrow sunken path to the left of a white cottage we reach a residential area where we follow the road, over a lane, up the steps and across a meadow to a footpath leading to Salford Mill where a guide provides some leaflets and interesting information about the mill, and we stop for a drink at the Seahorse pub, which sells some very interesting 'teas'.
Re-commencing the walk we take a track at the back of the pub and follow a path signposted to Godalming, taking the narrower right path with views of the river Wye, taking a swing gate on the right over two boardwalks and the bank of the river crossing the weir to the Wye canal. We cross the canal at St Catherine's lock, where we saw several narrowboats, which may well have been part of an event in Guildford, according to another walker we chatted to, as well as a brave family who were standing on large boards making their way down the canal. We walked for some time along the towpath leading to the national trust path, part of the 'Wey navigation'. Cross a bridge we follow a long straight path which is part of a disused railway line, reaching the main road we follow the track on the other side through woodland and past a memorial pier with picnic tables.
St. Catherine's Lock on the Wey Navigation.
We joined the Downs Link north path and turned left in the direction of St Martha's, the path continues to a major road and we walk ahead on a track to Southlands Stud where we continue to another main road. We take a right diagonal path on the other side, through the woodland leading to the 'great historic Tangley Manor'. The walk details suggest it is worth a look, but as a result of past experience (when we were made very unwelcome) all but one decided to give it a miss, we continue through woodland to the road near the 'Blackheath' sign. This is where the walk should have started if we had parked in the village, again with the help of Jim, as well as Christine (both had maps and compasses) they successfully took the group back to the car park where we started. See our route on Bing Maps.
Despite a tricky start and end to the walk, and some distance to travel to the start of the walk, everyone appeared to enjoy a varied walk in a different area to usual, we had good weather and no rain as forecast.
Thanks to Ann for writing up the walk and Kathy for providing the photos.
Walk 284 - Ecchinswell and Sydmonton
On the border of Ecchinswell and Sydmonton.
It was a pleasant Thursday evening when seven of us met up at Ecchinswell for a 4½ mile walk along the footpaths and lanes around Ecchinswell and Sydmonton. Starting from the village hall car park, we followed a footpath westward, past the playing fields and through woodlands, emerging onto a quiet lane.
We followed the lane southward into Sydmonton, passing Laundry Cottages before turning east toward Watership Farm. Passing a new and unusually styled house (made by a German company according to Lawrence) we found ourselves heading back into Ecchinswell, having only done 2½ miles!
Heading back into Ecchinswell!
But we were soon heading back out into the countryside on the other side of the village. Passing through fields of wheat and fields of barley, we took a circular route through Southwood Copse, Northwood Copse, Kisby's Farm and Malthouse Farm before arriving back in Ecchinswell.
The walk finished at The Royal Oak, where we stopped for a post-walk drink and met up with a couple of other members of the group. See our route on Google Maps. I have led many walks around this area, but Mike and Alison's walk passed along some paths I'd never been on before (as well as some I knew well).
Walk 282 - Twyford and Loddon Nature Reserve
A wheat field near Whistley Green.
A group of 13 headed off on a pleasant, sunny and slightly breezy evening in Twyford for a 4½ mile walk round Twyford and Loddon Nature Reserve. From the village centre, we headed down the High Street, then took a path following the river, leading to woodland and lakes (former gravel pits).
From there under the railway arches following paths past horse paddocks, we also sited Kites, hares, rabbits and at the end of a bridleway to Whistley Bridge a picturesque view of the river.
Crossing a stream near Broadwater.
We walked through wheat fields and over a stream and then entered a field, passing under a giant oak tree we were treated to a group of friendly ponies - often referred to as Cinderella ponies, with their small stature as used in pantomimes, circus etc.
Gradually leaving behind our new-found friends, we emerged on onto the road and quickly entered another footpath that passed through fields alongside the 15th century Stanlake Manor and Park Wine Estate.
We met some tiny ponies.
We passed through a field of broad bean crops with camomile beside the path, which gave their feint aroma. Entering a lane beside cottages we head back into the village via Ruscombe Church of St James dating back to the 12th century. See our route on Google Maps.
Unfortunately, we were unable to partake in refreshment as a private function was arranged. This was not booked when the walk leaders talked to the proprietor on the pre-walk.
Thanks to Kathy for writing up the walk for our scrapbook.
Walk 281 - Wayfarer's Walk and Hannington
Some kind of music festival, near White Hill.
The walk we did on Sunday 11th June was attended by two guests from the Loddon Valley group and one from the Pang Valley group, along with eight of our regulars. While waiting to set off, we became aware of some kind of musical gathering taking place in a natural bowl beneath White Hill. The sound funnelled up toward us and we could just see a few people.
The walk started by joining the Wayfarer's Walk, a 70-mile long-distance path from Inkpen Beacon (Walbury Hill) in Berkshire to Emsworth in Hampshire. This we would follow, heading south-eastwards for around 4½ miles.
Following the Wayfarer's Walk on White Hill. Watership Down in the distance.
After a brief spell of uphill through wheat fields, we were able to look back and see the Wayfarer's Walk disappearing over Watership Down. Our route took a gentle descent, passing by Walkeridge Farm and through woodlands before emerging into the hamlet of North Oakley.
Turning off the quiet road, we passed through some farmland and a new plantation as the Wayfarer's Walk took us further south-east. On the way, we saw some deer running through the fields and into the woods. We left the long-distance path as it crossed White Lane. Following this lane to the east, we stopped at a crossroads for a pre-lunch snack.
Stopping for a snack at the crossroads on White Lane.
We walked along Hannington Road for about half a mile before taking a footpath through Warren Bottom Copse. The bluebells now finished, it was the turn of the nettles to flourish, although the path was reasonably free of them. Emerging from the woods, we stopped by the edge of a barley field for our picnic lunch.
The view of the crops swaying in the breeze put me in mind of watching waves on the sea, except for the occasional hare that bounded through the field. After lunch, we continued northward on a farm track and then through an oilseed rape field. The bright yellow flowers had now gone and the green rapeseed pods were clearly visible.
Wading through waist-high grass on the footpath to Hannington.
The footpath by the side of this field was overgrown to the point where it was difficult to follow. The grass came up to my midriff! Luckily, we didn't have to follow it for too long before leaving the field for an easier path that took us into the picturesque village of Hannington. Here we stopped for a drink at The Vine pub.
Refreshed, we set off through Hannington, passing the village green and church, before making our way through farmland. There were more ups and downs on the way to Cottington's Hill and Freemantle Park Down. We reached the highest point by the television transmitting mast before descending through another wheat field back to the car park at White Hill. See our route on Bing Maps.
Walk 280 - Mortimer Common and Wokefield Common
Stopping for a group photo by Pullen's Pond, Wokefield Common.
On Wednesday evening 7th June, six people turned up for an easy 4-mile walk, despite the grey and threatening sky. We had one prospective new member, a couple of visitors from other groups and a few of our regulars. Armed with optimism (and waterproof jackets) we set off by following the perimeter of the playing field, following one of the Berkshire Circular Routes.
This took us on a short stretch along Windmill Road before heading along a woodland path to Bridge's Farm and then into Starvale Woods. A steep alleyway took us past Starvale house and into Wokefield Common, which is mostly woodland. At this point the weather was just on the turn, with spits of rain falling on us. Nothing substantial though, so we carried on with the walk.
Walking through a field of newly growing maize at Wokefield Farm.
We crossed a road into the top part of Wokefield Common and followed the Berkshire Circular Route as it curved round and led us out of the woodlands, passing Pullen's Pond on the way. Next, we followed a quiet lane for a short while before heading south across a field of newly growing maize. Crossing Lockram Brook on a narrow wooden bridge, the Berkshire Circular Route led us across more fields, with a view of Wokefield Park conference centre to the east.
What rain there had been was gone as we passed one more farm and through one more stretch of woodland to arrive back at the playing fields. See our route on Google Maps. Finally, we stopped off for a quick drink at the pub opposite before heading home.
Walk 279 - Watlington Hill and the Ridgeway
Descending Watlington Hill on our way to The Ridgeway.
On the first Sunday in June, we went on the first walk led for us by Julie (and her dog Wellington). Twelve of us (including a couple of newcomers and a member of the BWs we'd not seen for years) gathered at the NT car park at the top of Watlington Hill for a rollercoaster walk. Well, that is how my fitness tracker described it afterwards. It was quite hilly, with 1,230 feet of ascent in total.
Anyway, we started off with a descent, heading south-west down Watlington Hill. At the bottom, we followed a road for a short while before joining The Ridgeway (or Swan's Way, as this part of the long distance path is called).
Two lambs trying to stare us out on a farm at Swyncombe.
The Ridgeway took a sharp left at North Farm and began a steep incline up to Dean Wood before heading down to Swyncombe, where we stopped by the ancient little church of St Botolph. This is where we left The Ridgeway and joined the Chiltern Way, heading uphill to Cookley Green. On the way we encountered two lambs on the path, gazing at us curiously, not quite sure what to do next, but they finally decided to run off as we got closer.
A fancy duck house on the pond at Russell's Water.
Passing through Cookley Green, we headed down and then up to Russell's Water, where we stopped by the village pond to have our picnic lunch. The large pond had an elaborate duck house, complete with veranda, and some pretty large fish (probably some variety of carp). These competed fiercely with the ducks (and each other) for some breadcrumbs we threw in after eating our sandwiches. It was quite a sight.
Stopping for a drink at the Crown Inn, Pishill.
After lunch we continued our walk, heading down to Pishill, which included a stop at The Crown Inn - a picturesque 15th century coaching inn. The sky was beginning to darken, but the rain predicted for late afternoon hadn't yet arrived, so we sat in the pub's garden with our drinks.
Feeling refreshed, we began the steep ascent up to Hollandridge Farm, followed by the slightly gentler ascent through Fire Wood to Christmas Common. From here there was a short stretch of road walking, back to the car park. See our route on Google Maps.
The height profile of this walk. (feet/miles)
This energetic walk had much variety in its terrain, with open fields and different types of woodland, as well as some pretty villages on the way. We were lucky with the weather too. The temperature was warm but not too hot for walking, and it didn't rain until after the walk had finished.
Walk 278 - Wokingham Wednesday
Walking through the Gorrick Plantation.
On Wednesday evening 31st May, six of us did the walk that had been planned for the Wednesday two weeks earlier, but had not gone ahead due to the heavy rain. This evening was pleasantly warm and dry as we set off from Wokingham railway station, along Wellington Road and Finchampstead Road, before leaving the busy roads for a quiet footpath at Emm Brook.
After passing Chapel Green Farm, we joined a byway that ran parallel to the railway line, taking us down to Gorrick Cottage. Here we left the byway for a footpath heading into the Gorrick Plantation. This well-made path led us through tall conifers as it curved round and finally exited at Gardeners Green Farm.
Poly-tunnels at Gray's Farm.
Following a footpath through Gardeners Green Farm, Birchin Inhams Farm and Gray's Farm, we passed a complex of poly-tunnels. These contained all sorts of fruiting plants, including strawberries and grapes. The footpath continued past Ludgrove School, Chapel Green and into the outskirts of Wokingham.
We passed by Langborough Recreation Ground and through Howard Palmer Gardens on our way into the centre of Wokingham. See our route on Google Maps. The walk now finished, half of the group left to go home while the rest of us went on for a drink at the Broadstreet Tavern. We sat in their garden as it was still light.
Walk 277 - Nettlebed
Walking through Oxlands Bottom on our way to Bromsden Farm.
Twenty-four ramblers met at the four sided bus shelter in the centre of Nettlebed for a ten and a half walk, led by Kathy and Ann. The weather forecast was that there might be rain, so we decided to have the pub stop at the end of the walk and keep up a steady pace to hopefully avoid the rain.
We walked along the side of the Sue Ryder house, which was quite overgrown with a lot of stinging nettles, but we were unsure if we could go through the Sue Ryder property and out the gates to the road. We took the bridleway slightly to the right which was the old road to Bix, emerging from the woods we took another bridleway and followed the track to Bromsden Farm.
A long-horned highland cow lying in the shade.
We made our way into Tartary wood, where a few bluebells were left and continued onto Pissen woods part of the Grey Courts estate, further on is Grey's Court house and gardens, which we have visited on previous walks.
We joined the Chilterns way, eventually reaching Peppard Common where we stopped for our packed lunch. The weather forecast had changed and it was unlikely to rain until later, so a pub stop was a possibility.
Walking through a field by Greys Court Farm.
The Red Lion pub was quite busy, so we decided to walk onto the Unicorn, although when we got there we had a vote and the majority wanted to carry on with a drink stop in Nettlebed. We took the lane running beside Kingswood Common, leaving the lane to a footpath through Burnt Platt to Bear Wood leading into Bush Wood and to the back of Stoke Row.
Two rather wiry looking elephants at English Farm.
We went back into the wood and down the hill to Newham Hill Bottom. We turned left and followed the lane to the end continuing on a bridleway to English Farm, where we were warned that we might spot an elephant; and we did!!
We took the footpath around the farm, to take another path across a field and took a track to Hollyberrywood House, reaching Nettlebed Church and back into the centre of Nettlebed, when we felt the first spots of rain, such great timing. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Ann for writing up the walk, and to Christine for helping Kathy and Ann with the pre-walk.
Walk 276 - The Cut through Winkfield
The sun setting on Saint Mary's Church, Winkfield.
I didn't make it to Ann and Kathy's evening walk on Thursday 25th May but nine other people did.
Why the long face?
The weather was good for this 3½ mile stroll through the green meadows, fields, footpaths and lanes that surround the historic centre of Old Winkfield.
This was the second of our evening walks this year. It would have been the third, but the walk planned for the previous week was postponed due to heavy rain. That walk was repeated two weeks later when the weather was much nicer.
Eight of the nine walkers. The ninth was holding the camera.
Sorry there's no write-up for this walk, but Kathy has provided these pictures. (I suspect that the pictures in our scrapbook are more important than the words for giving you an impression of our walks!)
Walk 275 - Yatelely and Eversley
Walking through Castle Bottom Nature Reserve.
On Sunday 21st May, eighteen people (including some newcomers) and a dog met up at Waitrose car park in Yateley for an 8 mile walk. We started off towards Yateley Common on a path between houses and fields, then through woodland, leading to the entrance to Castle Bottom Nature Reserve. This is designated a Special Protection Area due to the presence of breeding rare birds. No rare birds were seen on this occasion but some of us spotted a few lizards on the boardwalk before they scuttled away to hide from the approaching footsteps.
Following a footpath near Eversley Church.
Soon after leaving the nature reserve we crossed the B3016 to a bridleway between two lakes formed from disused gravel pits. We then crossed the A327 to current gravel workings and Warren Heath.
At a junction of paths we joined part of the Three Castles Path which went past Eversley Church. There was some minor confusion in finding the entrance to the footpath on the other side of the road as a sign clearly visible on the pre-walk was now completely obscured by leaves! Once the path was found we continued through farmland and horse fields. There were still some bluebells to be seen as the footpath went past woodland but these were by now past their best.
Stopping for our picnic lunch at Eversley Cross.
We then walked a short road section to our lunch stop, next to Eversley village pond where we had the luxury of enough picnic tables and benches for the whole group! Conveniently located opposite is the Frog and Wicket pub where we adjourned after lunch for a quick drink.
Following the refreshments we walked along Longwater Lane to join the Blackwater Valley Path. Here we followed the Blackwater River to a footbridge at Moor Green Lakes where we crossed the river to re-join the Three Castles Path, continuing through woodland and past a motorsports lake where jetskiing was in progress.
Walking through Moor Green Country Park.
We then reached the edge of Yateley and some paths between houses took us back to fields. We continued past a fishing lake and along footpaths which were becoming slightly overgrown with various plants including nettles. Fortunately no-one was wearing shorts! Another short walk along a road led to a gentle incline across a field and views over Yateley and Finchampstead.
The path then descended to a small bridge over a ditch and back to the woodland and path behind houses where the walk had started. See our route on Google Maps. We were lucky to have very pleasant weather for this walk - dry and warm, but not too hot.
Many thanks to Denise for leading the walk (her first for our group) and for writing it up.
Walk 273 - Barkham and The Coombes
Walking through a lush crop field at Edneys Hill Farm.
On Wednesday 10th May, we had our first weekday evening walk of the year. With time after work before sunset, the next few months will see more of these evening walks. Fine weather ensured nine people (including a couple of newcomers, trying us out) attended this four-mile walk around Barkham.
Starting at around 6:50pm, we set off from St James' Church in Barkham and followed a footpath from the end of Church Lane, through Church Farm and Edneys Hill Farm, emerging on to a quiet road. After following this road for a short while, we took a footpath through to Dales Lane, before crossing the main Barkham Road into Sandy Lane.
Crossing a rather empty stream in The Coombes woodland.
This lane took us past houses and fields before crossing Bearwood Road to become Coombes Lane, and unadopted road that gradually transformed into a muddy track. I say muddy, but the recent dry spell meant that the mud was quite solid. With Bearwood Lakes golf course on our right and The Coombes woodland on the left, we continued on this track before turning off into the woods along a rhododendron lined path.
Zig-zagging through mixed woodland, we crossed a stream on a wooden bridge. The stream was practically empty due to the recent unusually dry weather. At one point, we spotted a deer in the woods, but it didn't stay long once it heard us coming.
Our leader, surprised at having to look up to me.
Having done almost a complete loop through The Coombes, we emerged onto the driveway of Barkham Manor Farm, which we followed down to Barkham Road. A short walk along the narrow pavement of this busy road brought us to The Bull pub. Most of us stopped for a drink in their pub garden before walking the last leg, down Barkham Street, back to Church Lane, where the walk had started. See our route on Google Maps.
The sun was setting as we got back to the cars at around 8:45pm. The walk had taken less than two hours, including the stop at the pub. Let's hope we get similar weather for the next evening walk, which is next Wednesday.
Walk 271 - Bluebells around Henley-on-Thames
Walking through Redhill Wood. Where are all the bluebells?
On the last day of April, twenty-five of us (including some visitors from other groups, a dog, and a newcomer trying us out) gathered on the outskirts of Henley-on-Thames for a walk that promised bluebells. In the walk description, the leader had stated that the bluebells were "pre-ordered, with no substitutions".
We set off, heading south-west through alleyways and quiet roads on the edge of Henley, before crossing fields, downhill to Hunt's Farm. Here we began an uphill path through Redhill Wood, where there were no bluebells to be seen! At this point, the leader expressed some concern, but as we entered Bones Wood we found great swathes of them.
Walking through Pindars Wood. Plenty of bluebells here!
Stopping on the edge of Bones Wood and Crowsley Park Woods, we sat looking at the bluebells while we ate our packed lunches. After lunch, we headed north-west and left the woods on the Chiltern Way, passing through the fields of King's Farm and then more bluebell woods.
We left the Chiltern Way as it passed Rotherfield Greys, where we visited The Maltsters Arms for a refreshing drink. Continuing on the last leg of the walk, we headed north through Pindars Wood and then east through Ash Plantation. There were no bluebells here as the plantation didn't have any trees, but there were plenty of cowslips in the grassy field.
Walking through Ash Plantation. No trees but plenty of Cowslips. Spot the flying cap.
Passing through a small piece of woodland at Lower Hernes, we completed the walk along a valley surrounded by fields, finally passing the tennis courts at Henley Tennis Club before reaching the road where we'd started. See our route on Google Maps.
Although this was a bank holiday weekend, and therefore rain had been forecast for the afternoon, we completed the walk in the dry. The bluebells seem to have arrived early this year, so we were lucky that they were still in full bloom for this this walk.
Walk 270 - Brightwalton, Leckhampstead and Peasemore
The Church of All Saints, Brightwalton.
There were nine of us on today's walk, enjoying some fine weather. Starting from the 1863 Gothic style All Saints Church at Brightwalton we crossed crop fields to Spray Wood where we were treated to a lovely display of bluebells.
Continuing on through grassy footpaths and pastures, we passed Chaddlesworth House and a distinctive pink thatched cottage as we approached Chaddleworth. In view was the late 12th century St. Andrews church nearby and then walked on into the village of quaint thatches and bungalows.
Crossing from Brightwalton to Chaddleworth.
From there following lanes, crop fields and tracks we reached Leckhampstead, past the impressive Manor House, varied bungalows and early Victorian St. James church. We then stopped to enjoy our picnic lunch on the village green.
Leaving the village we followed the road to reach the main B4494 crossing and meet with an old highway track and open nature reserve. The track led through thickets, a meadow, over further crop fields and colourful fields of rape to emerge in Peasemore.
Stopping for our picnic lunch in Leckhampstead.
Here the Victorian church of St Barnabas, a lovely backdrop, and on this occasion we elected to stop and take a look inside. The village itself is famous as the childhood home of ex PM David Cameron. Our refreshment pub-stop was here at the Fox at Peasemore.
Approaching the Church of St Barnabas at Peasemore.
Some pleasant lane walking brought us down again to the B4494. Crossing over onto field tracks, past cottages and thatch, before heading across a meadow to join the path through Malthouse Farm lawn and ornamental gardens. Through the other side led us back into the village of Brightwalton and our start point.
This was a mostly flat walk, with only a couple of gentle inclines, and encountering only five stiles. Each village provided interesting, picturesque charm, and much history whilst the working countryside had many great views and vibrant spring colours.
Thank you to Ann and Kathy for leading the walk and for writing it up.
Walk 269 - Cookham, Winter Hill and Bisham Woods
Crossing Cookham Dean Common.
On a slightly chilly Easter Monday, thirteen of us set off from the Cookham Moor car park for this varied 9 mile walk. Taking the higher path we soon crossed the railway bridge, carefully walking across the Winter Hill golf course, pausing a couple of times to allow golfers to safely take their shots.
We then carried on through the picturesque village of Halloween with its wonderful oldie-worldie thatched cottages before taking a steep climb towards Cookham Dean. Here we walked down past Kings Coppice Farm with its brown Alpacas and blossoming fruit trees, then through Bigfrith Common, passing the forlornly empty barns which later in the year house the famous Copas Turkeys.
Good place for our lunch stop in Quarry Wood.
Crossing Cookhamdean Common, we joined the Cookham Dean Bridleway Circuit, heading past vibrant yellow fields of rape before arriving at Inkydown Wood - inspiration for the 'Wild Wood' from Kenneth Graham's Wind in the Willows. Here swathes of bluebells could be glimpsed coming into flower further into the wood.
Continuing through Fultness Wood and then Quarry Wood via another steep climb led us to our lunch stop - a charming circle of sawn up tree trunks. (With thanks to Mark and Julie for revealing to Julia its secret location!).
Crossing Cock Marsh with Winter Hill behind us.
Suitably replenished, we carried on via Winter Hill with its far reaching views down through more yellow rape fields at Cock Marsh. Arriving at the Thames, we followed the path to the quirky and popular Bounty pub for a welcome drink.
Our last leg took us further along the Thames Path, back towards our starting point in Cookham where some of us enjoyed an ice-cream as a fitting end to the walk. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Julia for leading the walk and for writing it up.
Walk 268 - Witheridge Hill and Greys Court
Crossing a field near Shepherd's Green on the way to Greys Court.
On Sunday 9th April, we joined forces with the Windsor & District Ramblers group for an 8 mile walk, led by Joyce (of the W&D group). Twenty-four of us, with a roughly even mix of both groups, gathered outside the Rising Sun pub in the hamlet of Witheridge Hill, for a 10 AM start.
We set off on a footpath that led from the pub car park, heading east across fields and into woodland at Stonehouse Farm. Turning south we continued through farmland and woodland, passing by Satwell, through Shepherd's Green and on to Greysgreen Farm.
An archway of apple blossom in the gardens at Greys Court.
Here we joined the Chiltern Way, which took us into the grounds of Greys Court, a National Trust property with delightful gardens and tea shop. Most of us are already members of the National Trust, but those that weren't might now be thinking of joining up. (The walk leader had obtained consent for as to pass through the grounds and visit the tea shop.)
While most stopped for tea, a few of us visited the walled gardens. Having been there the previous month month, I was amazed to see how much it had changed now that Spring has sprung. Following the Chiltern Way into the woodland behind Greys Court, the first bluebells were also out.
A brief stop in Earl's Wood while people catch up.
Leaving the Chiltern Way as it entered Famous Copse, we headed west, through Earl's Wood and Tartary before stopping for our picnic lunch in a large wooded crater. During lunch I discussed with one of the W&D group how this large bowl in the woodland may have been formed. We considered natural subsidence, a sink-hole or maybe even a WWII bomb crater!
We continued our walk through more woodland and fields, at Lower Highmoor and Highmoor Common. The woodland looks lovely at this time of year, with the foliage not fully out so there is lots of sunlight coming in. Also we'd had a couple of dry weeks beforehand so the paths weren't muddy either.
Woodland in Lower Highmoor.
Leaving the woodland, we followed Deadman's Lane to Devil's Hill, which we ascended only to descend Newman Hill the other side. Then more ascent up Witheridge Hill and back to the Rising Sun, where we'd started. See our route on Google Maps.
There was time for a well-earned drink at the pub. We'd seen temperatures of 25°C (77°F) on the walk, which is pretty good for April. We were able to enjoy more of the lovely sunshine in the pub garden before going home after this very successful joint walk.