Walk 393 - Eversley and Bramshill
Horses and carts rallying through Heath Warren Wood.
On the first Sunday of August, fourteen of us met up on a warm but slightly cloudy day at the car park near St Mary's Church, Eversley. We set off, following the Three Castles Path into Heath Warren Wood. On entering the wood, we left left it to follow some substantial forest tracks.
These track were also being used for a local rally of horses and carts. The carts ranged from basic traps to fancy carriages, which were pulled by single or teams of horses, or in some cases, miniature ponies.
Miniature ponies pulling these carts through Heath Warren Wood.
When we came to cross the road into Bramshill Plantation, we were greeted by a couple of marshals in high visibility jackets who were waiting for the horses and carts. With nothing to do at the time, they stopped the traffic for us so that we could cross the road, which was nice.
Making our way through Bramshill Plantation, we came across more horse and cart traffic. Stopping by some of the lakes, we were able to see all sorts of wildlife, including various types of dragon fly, a few pond skaters and a heron.
Picnicing by a lake in Bramshill Plantation.
We stopped for a picnic by one of the lakes, which was very pleasant until the inevitable dog walker decided to get her dog to play fetch in and out of the water, frequently shaking itself dry right next to us. I like dogs, but am less fond of them when they douse my sandwiches in pond water.
Leaving Bramshill Plantation, we followed the Blackwater Valley Path back into Eversley, where we stopped for a drink in the garden of The White Hart pub. Heading back to the car park, we passed near Warbrook House, then passed through a small farm with some tiny goats, Egyptian geese and alpacas. Finally emerging behind the church, we crossed through the grounds and we were back. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Denise for leading the walk and providing the photos.
Walk 391 - Four Downland Villages
Crossing a field near Chaddleworth
Eight of us turned up in Brightwalton for this 8 mile walk around four downland villages: Brightwalton, Chaddleworth, Leckhampstead and Peasemore. It was an educational walk too, as the leaders stopped at each village and told us a little of its history.
Inside St James' church, Leckhampstead
Leaving Brightwalton, we headed south-west, passing Spray Wood on our way to Chaddleworth. Catching a glimpse of Chaddleworth House before heading south-east out of the village, we followed Wick Lane (track) before entering Leckhampstead on Manor Lane.
We took a slight diversion to look inside St James' Church, built around 1860, which has a rather eye-catching brick interior. It reminded me of the decorative brickwork in the great hall of the Natural History Museum in London.
The War Memorial at Leckhampstead
We stopped to have our picnic lunch on the triangular green in Leckhampstead where there is a war memorial of unusual design. Its obelisk shape is not that unusual for such a monument, but it also included a clock. We sat under the trees for shade while eating out packed lunches.
Crossing a field between Peasemore and Brightwalton Green
After lunch, we followed the Downland Villages Riding Route to Peasemore. Here we stopped at their local pub for a welcome drink.
The route from Peasemore to Brightwalton Green involved crossing numerous contour lines on the map. First a little bit of uphill, then downhill, uphill, downhill again and finally uphill to Brightwalton Green.
Here we found a tiny library of second-hand books inside an old red telephone kiosk. It was a short distance from here to Brightwalton village, where we had started our walk. See our route on Google Maps.
Thank you to Ann and Kathy for leading this walk.
Walk 390 - Windsor Great Park and Valley Gardens
Us standing by the Queen Elizabeth II Jubilee monument.
On Sunday 14th July, six regulars and one visitor from another group assembled at the Ranger's Gate car park in Windsor Great Park for a ten mile walk around the more southern areas of the park. Following Prince Consort's Drive, we passed the Ranger's Lodge, the Isle of Wight Pond and the York Club, before turning off at Sandpit Gate Lodge and heading east.
The Canadian totem pole in the Valley Gardens.
We stopped to admire the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee monument when a kind passer-by offered to take our photo by the monument. Continuing east, we turned south at Dark Wood to follow Duke's Lane.
Turning off Duke's Lane, passing through Millhill Plantation, crossing a footbridge and following the southern bank of Virginia Water, we reached a road bridge. Crossing this, we passed through heathland before crossing another bridge into the Valley Gardens.
Obelisk Pond with the Cumberland Obelisk amongst the trees.
Following the edge of Virginia Water, we reached the 100 foot high Canadian totem pole. Here we stopped for our picnic lunch as there were a couple of benches free next to the pole.
After lunch, we headed north to the Cumberland Obelisk, passing by Obelisk Pond on the way. The next stop was the Savill Garden Kitchen, where we stopped for coffee and cake, also making use of their convenient facilities while we were there.
A few deer in the park, near Snow Hill.
Heading north-west from the obelisk, we passed Smith's Lawn and Cumberland Lodge before joining the Three Castles Path heading up Snow Hill to the Copper Horse statue. On the way, we saw a few deer, eyeing us with mild disinterest. I expect they are quite used to people by now.
We admired the commanding view from the top of Snow Hill, which give a splendid view of Windsor Castle at the other end of The Long Walk. You could easily see Heathrow airport and just make out some of the London skyscrapers.
Turning to the west, we followed the road leading to the village, where we crossed Queen Anne's Ride. Looking one way we could see the castle and looking the other way, we could just see the Golden Jubilee statue that we'd passed near the start of the walk. We then retraced our steps back to the car park. See our route on Google Maps.
Walk 389 - Whitchuch, Laverstoke and Freefolk
Inside the Church of St Nicholas in Freefolk.
We were in Whitchurch on Sunday 7th July. Not the Whitchurch near Pangbourne, where we often walk, but Whitchurch in Hampshire (between Andover and Basingstoke). Seven of us (4 BWs and 3 BWWs) met up at the station, five arriving by train, for an 8 mile walk inspired by the Whitchurch Mill Trail. My version of the walk was longer and included part of the Harrow Way but missed out a couple of mills.
We made our way south through the village and crossed the River Test by Town Mill. Corn was milled here as recently as 1940, but it has since been converted into a private house. Our route then followed the Test eastward out of the village. The river was hidden from us most of the time by the summer undergrowth. Leaving the Test, we crossed farm land and woodland to reach the hamlet of Laverstoke.
Bere Mill on the River Test.
Laverstoke paper mill (15th century) once produced the paper used in Bank of England banknotes. Now it is home to the Bombay Sapphire gin distillery.
We crossed a field to the redundant Church of St Nicholas in nearby Freefolk. This tiny 13th century church contains a Jacobean tomb topped by recumbent effigy of Sir Richard Powlett who died in 1614. Leaving the church, we crossed some grassy fields and found a suitable spot for our picnic lunch.
After lunch we crossed the River Test near Bere Mill, which had also been a paper mill and is now a private residence. Another overgrown footpath took us up to the road, which we followed to the Watership Down Inn where we stopped for refreshment.
Freefolk Manor Cottages with one long continuous thatched roof.
Leaving the pub, we passed a long terrace of thatched cottages. Designed in 1939, these terraced cottages and their impressively long thatched roof are a modern oddity.
We left Freefolk and headed uphill, passing through fields of wheat, barley and oats, on our way to the Harrow Way. This long-distance path was made up of a well-established footpath and a quiet lane.
We followed the Harrow Way westward for a while before taking a much less well-established footpath back to Whitchurch. A short bit of road walking brought us back to the station with ten minutes to spare before the next train home. See our route on Google Maps.