Walk 336 - Hambleden, Hurley and Temple Locks
Following Shakespeare's Way between Hambleden to Rotten Row.
On Sunday 24th, we had eleven people turn up on a hot, sunny day for a 12 mile walk around Hambleden, and the Thames Path. We started from the car park on Skirmett Road near Mill End and headed toward Hambleden, where we joined the Shakespeare's Way long distance path.
After ascending a steep woodland path, we crossed a wheat field and left the Shakespeare's Way before it entered Rotten Row. Passing Hutton's Farm and Springfield Farm, we entered Heath Wood, and soon rejoined the Shakespeare's Way and followed it through Homefield Wood and Davenport Wood.
Group photo on the footbridge at Temple Lock.
While making our way through the Pullingshill Wood, we found a group of youngsters enjoying themselves on some rope swings. I think they were an organised group, probably doing their Duke of Edinburgh award activities, but had seen an opportunity for some unplanned recreation.
A long and steady downhill path took us down to Temple Lock, where we stopped off for a break, having our picnic lunch on a grassy stretch near the lock. After lunch, we crossed the Thames on an arched footbridge, and began to follow the Thames Path westward, toward Hurley Lock.
Enjoying a drink at The Flower Pot, Aston.
Here we stopped at the café by the lock and some had ice creams while others checked the football scores. England were clocking up goal after goal against Panama. Continuing on the Thames Path, we quietly baked in the hot sunshine, but the promise of a refreshing pub-stop spurred us on.
After several miles, we reached the tiny hamlet of Aston, and The Flower Pot pub! Enjoying our drinks in the beer garden, we were amazed how empty this usually crowded place was. Football! After finishing our drinks, we continued on our way to Hambleden Lock - the third and last lock of this walk. From there it was just a short distance back to the car park. See our route on Google Maps.
Walk 335 - Odiham Evening Walk
The imposing Hunting Lodge in Odiham Common.
The long evenings are upon us, and the evening before the longest day saw four of us meet up for a four-mile walk around Odiham and the Basingstoke Canal. We started off by following the canal tow path from Odiham Wharf car park in the direction of Dogmersfield. We hadn't gone more than 2/3 mile before we left the tow path to explore the woodland of Odiham Common.
Passing by Wilks Walter, we found the path to be covered with baby frogs. We had to walk very carefully to avoid crushing the tiny creatures. Next we passed by an elaborate looking building known as the Odiham Hunting Lodge, dating from around 1730. The front has a very ornate facade, but as we passed behind the building, the rest of it looked somewhat more convential.
One of the Mortuary Chapels at Odiham cemetary.
Looping round through the woodland, we arrived back at the canal at Broad Oak Bridge, which we had passed under earlier on the walk. We followed the canal on the other side for a short while before heading south, crossing the A287, into Hillside Common. Passing through fields of horses and then fields of oilseed rape, we made our way west, back into Odiham.
As we approached, we could see a match being played at Odiham & Greywell Cricket Club in the distance, and behind that we could just make out RAF Odiham. It's presence was felt as a Chinook helicopter flew overhead.
Enjoying a post-walk drink at The Waterwitch.
Our next stop was to visit the cemetary where we found two almost identical chapels. These Mortuary Chapels, one for Anglicans and the other for non-conformists, are no longer used.
After a brief look at these 19th centuary listed buildings, we continued along Kings Road into Odiham. We followed the High Street before turing off onto the road back to Odiham Wharf, where we had started the walk. See our route on Google Maps.
Along the way, three of us decided to have a post-walk drink at the Waterwitch pub. It was light enough to sit out in the beer garden until gone 9:30pm. While we were there, another member of our group joined us. Having missed the start of the walk, he had made up his own walk before joining us at the pub.
Walk 334 - Hook, Greywell and North Warnborough
Posing for a picture at Owen's Farm, near Hook.
The weekend of 15th - 17th June was the National Young Ramblers 2018 event, which was being hosted by our sister group, the Berkshire Walkers 20s & 30s group. We were contributing a walk to go on their programme of twelve walks!
Eight of us met up at Hook railway station. Three from our group, four visitors from Hertfordshire - here for the NYR event - and one member of the Berkshire Walkers to act as back-marker and generally look after our guests, which she did with great aplomb.
This was a walk I had led a few times before, but with some extra bits added to make more use of the time available.
A swan's nest on the Basingstoke Canal.
We headed west, through Hook and out of the village through Owen's Farm, before heading south, through Newnham, crossing the A30 into Heather Row. Here we came across a number of white cows with their calves, lying down. (Does this mean it's going to rain? No, not yet!)
We crossed a bridge over the M3 motorway and followed a track through woodland, down to the village of Up Nately. Here we crossed an unrestored section of the Basingstoke Canal and then followed the Canal to the west entrance of the Greywell Tunnel. The tunnel is closed to navigation (and to curious ramblers) and is now home to various species of bat.
Mallard ducklings on the Basingstoke Canal.
We followed the course of the tunnel overland, through woodland and fields, stopping for our picnic lunch under a large oak tree on Greywell Hill. From here we could see views of North Hampshire and we could see a number of brown cows lying down. (Does this mean it's going to rain? Still no rain yet!)
After lunch we inspected the east entrance of the tunnel, which opens onto the restored part of the Basingstoke Canal. Following the towpath, we saw several large fish in the canal, a swan's nest, numerous moorhens, mallard ducks and their ducklings, all enjoying the peace and quiet of this part of the canal, which is a nature reserve and closed off to navigation.
Stopping for a drink at the Derby Inn, North Warnborough.
Next we stopped to look around the remains of King John's Castle (Odiham Castle) which dates back to 1207 AD. Leaving the canal by a swing bridge at Warnborough Green, we crossed the River Whitewater by a ford. We saw a few fish in the clear water by the bridge before we continued our way, across fields to our pub-stop at the Derby Inn.
Refreshed, we completed the walk by crossing the M3 on a footbridge into Bartley Heath and then back to Hook railway station. See our route on Google Maps. There was just a hint of drizzle in the air as the walk ended. (Maybe those cows were lying down too early!)
Walk 331 - Wellesley Woodlands and Caesars Camp
Some pieces of railway line. Part of an Army testing ground.
On Sunday 27th May, five people ignored the off-putting weather forecast (thunderstorms and heavy downpours!) and met at Wellesley Woodlands car park near Farnborough for a walk of around 9 miles. The group included four regular walkers and one person on her first walk with the Ramblers.
The walk began through the Long Valley army vehicle testing area where we came across various obstacles used to test the capabilities of the vehicles, including a short section of railway line! We could hear some vehicle noise but concluded this was coming from a race meeting at the nearby Rushmoor Arena and we didn't encounter any army vehicles...
Admiring the view from Caesar's Camp.
The next section of the walk was the climb to Caesars Camp where we stopped for an early lunch and to admire the view across the Farnborough airfield, Fleet and Aldershot. Unfortunately due to high air humidity it was misty in the distance and not possible to see any of the London landmarks.
After lunch we descended past some lakes then back into the vehicle testing area, this time on the western side.
Crossing the Basingstoke Canal on Eelmoor Bridge.
Our route took us past Tweseldown Racecourse and back across the A323 to The Foresters, where we stopped for a rest and some very welcome cold drinks!
The final part of the walk took us along the Basingstoke Canal towpath to Eelmoor Bridge, close to the airfield. We then crossed to the other side of the canal to return to the car park through Wellesley Woodlands. See our approximate route on Google Maps. The whole walk was free of any rain, a few clouds but fortunately no sign of the predicted storms!
Thank you to Denise for leading the walk and for writing it up.
Walk 330 - Winchfield Evening Walk
The Basingstoke Canal, near the Barley Mow, Winchfield.
On Wednesday evening 16th May, we had our first mid-week evening walk of the year. Six of us met up at the Barley Mow Slipway car park at 7pm for this easy 3-mile walk.
We started by following the Basingstoke Canal towpath, heading south toward Dogmersfield. This section of the canal suffered a land-slip some years ago and so we were walking on a recently rebuilt part of the towpath. Reaching a brick-built bridge, we crossed the canal and entered the grounds of Dogmersfield Park.
One of the bridges over Tundry Pond.
Passing Tundry Pond, we stopped off to look at the boat house at the end of the pond. Here there is a good view of the bridges over the pond, with the evening sun adding colour to the brickwork. We continued walking through the park and passed a field of highland cattle.
A couple of highland cattle were sorting out their differences.
Two of the horned beasts were settling an argument over their superiority in the herd. It seemed like a low-impact fight between two animals whose hearts weren't really in it! We stopped to watch them but as soon as they noticed we were there, they stopped fighting to watch us!
We carried on crossing the park until we reached Sprats Hatch Farm, where we followed a track that led us back to the Basingstoke Canal. Following the towpath, we saw a number of different birds, such as heron, jackdaw, and we just heard a cuckoo in the distance.
A very picturesque cottage and garden by the Basingstoke Canal.
As the canal snaked round towards the Barley Mow bridge, we passed under a number of other bridges, passed woodland, fields and then the back gardens of some cottages. One garden had in it a life-size statue of a horse, eating the grass, and a Flower Pot Man sitting by the edge of the canal.
Soon we were back at the car park where we had started the walk. See our route on Google Maps.
As it was only about a quarter past eight, we all decided there was time to visit the Barley Mow pub opposite the car park. It was just about warm enough to sit outside for a drink and a chat, although we did make use of the patio heater for a brief period.
Walk 329 - Odiham, Greywell and Mapledurwell
On Sunday 13th May fourteen people met at the Deer Park View car park off Odiham High street for the start of this walk. The walkers included several guests from other Ramblers groups as well as BWW members.
Stopping for lunch by Mapledurwell pond.
First we headed towards the Basingstoke Canal and followed the towpath to the swing bridge at North Warnborough. We then walked through Greywell Moors, a nature reserve managed by the Hampshire Wildlife Trust. We stopped briefly to look at Greywell Mill, where the dilapidated waterwheel can still be seen although is no longer operational.
Then began a gradual incline, following the route of the Three Castles Path, to the crossing point of tracks known as Five Lanes End. Along the way there were some good views across Odiham and surrounding areas.
Stopping to look at the western mouth of the Greywell Tunnel.
At Five Lanes End we left the Three Castles Path, which continues all the way to Winchester. Instead, we took the track descending to Mapledurwell and our lunch stop by the village pond.
After lunch another short incline took us away from Mapledurwell up to Andwell Drove, and a short distance along this track we arrived at Little Tunnel bridge, a Grade 2 listed structure through which the canal once flowed. We took a track along the original route of the canal and crossed Greywell Road to reach the current end point of the canal.
Walking past the eastern mouth of Greywell Tunnel.
The towpath of this section of the canal goes past the former location of the brickworks at Up Nateley and to the western portal of the Greywell Tunnel. Most of the brickwork has collapsed and all that remains is the bore of the tunnel.
Someone asked me if I knew why they didn't route the canal round the hill instead of building the tunnel (which took 6 hours to "leg" a boat through). I wasn't sure but have since discovered that Earl Tylney, the original owner of nearby Tylney Hall objected to the canal passing through his land! Navigation through the tunnel is no longer possible as it has collapsed in the middle and is now home to a protected colony of bats.
Stopping to look at the remains of Odiham Castle.
The next part of our walk was over Greywell Hill to Greywell village and the Fox and Goose, where we stopped for refreshments. We then continued back to the canal and the eastern portal of the Greywell Tunnel which in contrast to the western portal is still intact. Here the towpath leads over the aqueduct where the canal crosses the River Whitewater and to the remains of Odiham Castle, where we stopped briefly to look at the ruins and the information boards about its history.
Soon afterwards we arrived back at the North Warnborough swing bridge and crossed our earlier route to take a different option back to Odiham. Here we saw the church and the village stocks (which are on display outside) before returning to our start point at the car park. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Denise for leading the walk, for providing these pictures and for writing it up.
Walk 328 - Chobham Common
Crossing a stile near Bambridge Farm.
The Early May Bank Holiday weekend was very warm. It was already 20°C when twelve of us met up at the Staple Hill car park on the edge of Chobham Common and was 25°C by the end of the walk. We started by following a well-established footpath that took us toward the Long Cross car park before heading deeper into the common on narrower paths, flanked with gorse bushes and brambles. (We had been warned not to wear shorts!)
Along the route we saw a group of people flying model aircraft from a high point in the common. The modern radio-controlled models tend to use electric motors instead of the buzzy internal combustion engines previous used. Much more peaceful!
Still plenty of bluebells to be seen.
Leaving the common near Butts Hill, we passed through farmland and woodland. There we many bluebells in the woodland, still in bloom. Our route looped back toward the common, via the northern outskirts of Chobham village. Here we found a suitable place to stop for our picnic lunch.
The picnic over, we headed back into the common, via Langshot equestrian farm. Here the public footpath led us into a field with no exit. We had to climb the wooden fence, as the original stile had been partly dismantled and an electric fence passed in front of it. We all made it over the fence without any damage to it, or to ourselves, and were back on our way.
Walking through woodland near Valley Wood Place.
Now the route took us through the common toward the M3 motorway, which was quite audible once we were close. Passing under the motorway, we followed footpaths that led us to Chertsey Road, which we followed to The Brickmakers pub, were we stopped for refreshment. It was quite busy, on account of the excellent weather, but we found some outside tables.
Much refreshed we followed the road a bit further before re-entering Chobham Common, for the final leg of the walk. Crossing over the B383 road and under the M3 motorway again, we were soon back at the Staple Hill car park, where we had started. See our route on Google Maps.
Walk 326 - Assendon, Greys Court, Bix and Bluebells
Stopping to look at the remains of St James' Church, Bix Bottom.
On Sunday 22nd April, twelve of us met up at Middle Assendon. By coincidence, this was also the meeting point for two other walking groups that day, which meant the large lay-by where we parked became quite full. (Our apologies to the residents.)
We started by heading north-west along a quiet lane, stopping at the ruins of St James' Church at Bix Bottom along the way. The previously crumbling ruins have recently had a partial restoration, and the masonry is now safe, but the church still only has three sides and no roof. I'm told that open-air services are occasional held there.
Passing through woodland at Oxlands Bottom.
The lane finished at Warburg Nature Reserve, where we followed footpaths through Kitesgrove Wood and Soundness Wood, until we reached Crocker End. Here we crossed the busy A4130 between Nettlebed and Henley-on-Thames and continued on woodland footpaths.
Passing a small group of houses that made up Lower Highmoor we entered a woodland full of bluebells. Julia, the leader, had been hoping they would be out in time for her walk, and we weren't disappointed. We had not seen many bluebells on the previous weekend, but the warm weather of the previous week had no doubt helped them on.
Stopping for lunch in Holly Grove.
We stopped for lunch after finding a suitable fallen tree to use as a bench. After lunch we crossed a field of sheep and lambs before entering Padnell's Wood, where there were even more bluebells.
Passing the tiny villages of Satwell and Shepherd's Green, we made our way to Greys Court - a National Trust house and gardens, through which passes the Chiltern Way. We followed the footpath through the grounds, only diverting to visit the café for tea, coffee, cake and/or ice cream.
Lots of bluebells in Padnell's Wood.
Waving our NT cards at the lady on the entrance as we left Greys Court, we continued on the Chiltern Way though more bluebell-infested woodland before leaving it for a footpath to the village of Bix. Crossing the busy A4130 again, we passed through a grassy field and joined White Lane before descending through an avenue of very tall conifers into Middle Assendon, where we had started. See our route on Google Maps.
The footpath emerged next to the Rainbow Inn but they only open at lunchtimes and evenings, and it was now 3:30pm so we weren't able to pop in for a drink. Never mind, we had already had refreshments at Greys Court earlier on the walk.
Walk 325 - Crowthorne and the Blackwater Valley Lakes
Walking through Edgebarrow Woods
Seventeen of us met up in Crowthorne on Sunday 15th April for a ten mile walk. This walk was the first to be led for us by Sue H. With help from friends within the group, Sue had designed and prepared for this walk, but was understandable still a little nervous. She needn't have been, as the walk went very well.
We started off heading out of town, passing Broadmoor Hospital and joining the Devil's Highway - the remains of a Roman road. We followed this only briefly before joining the Three Castles Path, which we followed south and west, through Broadmoor Farm, Edgebarrow Woods and Ambarrow Farm.
A horse tried to join our walk at Horseshoe Lake.
As we crossed Ambarrow Farm to get to Horseshoe Lake, a horse seemed to want to join our walk. One of our members who is good with horses persuaded it to stay put as we continued to the lake. The man at the Horseshoe Lake Activity Centre kindly allowed us to use their picnic tables to sit at and have our packed lunches.
After lunch, we continued on the Three Castles Path as it merged with the Blackwater Valley Path. This path led us through the Moor Green Lakes nature reserve, before we left it to head north toward Moor Green Farm. After a brief wrong turn, we took a footpath around Beech Hill and back to Ambarrow Farm.
More mud on the Blackwater Valley Path.
Here we retraced some of our outward route, but then took a different route through Edgebarrow Woods and a shorter route back into Crowthorne. See our route on Google Maps. Arriving at the car park, we all agreed it had been a good walk and had been led well. (The wrong turning at Moor Green Farm was easily forgiven. Even experienced leaders make the occasional 'unplanned detour'.)
Sue had also booked us a table at a local tearoom, so after changing out of our muddy footwear and divesting our rucksacks, we made our way there. Tea, coffee, cake and conversation was had before heading home. The rain just starting as we left the tearoom. (The rain had held off throughout the walk, despite a doubtful forecast.)